Best first round game- Houston vs UAB
Houston had big aspirations heading into the season. Last year’s final four team was looking for a repeat performance in 2022. Injuries to Tramon Mark and more importantly Marcus Sasser put a halt to the Cougars momentum. Houston was still able to win the American Conference regular season and tournament title’s but they were not able to pick up a lot of trademark wins throughout the season. They will matchup with the UAB Blazers high powered offense led by Jelly Walker. The Blazers average 79 ppg and will look to run early and often.
Houston will do all it can to dictate the pace, if they fall behind early they don’t have the firepower to overcome a deficit. Kelvin Sampsons squad are in for a fight.
Sleeper- Michigan Wolverines
The Wolverines pre-season hype may have been overblown but the talent they possess is real. All-American Hunter Dickinson leads a team that entered the season in the top ten and owns wins over Purdue, at Iowa and at Ohio State. The Wolverines seem to lose focus on the defensive end, but if they can find a way to lock in they have the offensive stars to make a run.
They have a great big man, a senior guad and NBA level talent in Caleb Houstan and Moussa Diabate.
Final- Tennessee vs. Arizona
The Volunteers got screwed in the seeding. They likely should have earned themselves a 2nd seed after winning the SEC tournament. Despite that they find themselves in a good spot to make it to the Elite Eight. Potential Sweet Sixteen matchups are the injured Buckeyes, an overrated mid-major Loyola and an underwhelming Villanova squad. The Vols can shut you down on the defensive end and have gotten great guard play from Santiago Vescovi, Kennedy Chandleer and Zakai Ziegler.
If the Vols continue their hot streak they will likely take on the extremely talented Arizona Wildcats. The Cats are loaded, they are a top five offense with multiple bigs that can control the glass. Christian Kokolo can dominate a game without the ball by controlling the paint, he allows the guards to play with a controlled chaos that is tough to guard. They also have a stud in Bennedict Mathurin, Arizona has everything but experience. Sometimes talent is all you need, they have proven that all year.