NCAA Tournament- South Regional Breakdown

Top Seeds-

  1. Baylor
  2. Ohio State
  3. Arkansas
  4. Purdue

The South Regional is led by the Baylor Bears.  After their long covid pause there seems to be a bit of hesitation in their abilities to get back to the team they were at the beginning of the season.  The loss to Cade Cunningham and Oklahoma State along with their struggle to put away lowly Kansas State leaves a lot of question marks on a team that could easily make a run to the championship.  

The Ohio State Buckeyes seemed to come from nowhere to the Big Ten Championship game.  They have prolific scorers in guard Duane Washington and forward EJ Liddell.  It is their role players that can step up at any moment and make an impact on the game.  CJ Walker, Seth Towns and Justin Sueing are all players that can make plays when asked upon.  The Buckeyes have victories over Illinois, Iowa and Michigan this season.  They have been tested all season and have players they can lean on down the stretch of a close game.  

Arkansas was and still is one of the hottest teams in all of college basketball.  Until running into LSU on Saturday they were winners of 13 straight games.  They have an absolutely elite offense led by Moses Moody and Desi Sills.  Their matchup with Colgate should be a cake walk for the Razorbacks (don’t listen to anyone that says different), but they could have gotten a rough matchup if Texas Tech finds its way past Utah State.  Arkansas arguably has the best offense in the entire bracket, but they will have matchups with teams that will slow them down and that is going to be trouble for Eric Musselman and company.

Purdue worked their way into a #4 seed on the back of their star Trevion Williams.  Williams has revitalized the post game in college basketball.  The Boilmakers has a solid resume, finishing 13-6 in the vaunted Big 10, there loan bad loss being against  a depleted Miami team early in the season.  Purdue is a dark horse in this bracket, but they will be tested in the first round by a feisty North Texas team. 

Potential First Round Upsets 

13. North Texas over 4. Purdue

Purdue could be a sleeper to come out of this bracket but I think they will have their hands full with North Texas.  The Mean Green are a stout defensive unit, they give up 60 ppg this season and hold opposing teams to an effective shooting percentage of 45.7%, ranking 20th in the nation.  North Texas has been challenged this year playing West Virginia, Arkansas and Loyola-Chicago this year.  

Purdue has Trevion Williams, he will be a problem for North Texas, but these two team play similar styles.  Purdue can’t look past the Conference USA champions, I think they will and they will pay for it. 

11. Utah State over 6. Texas Tech

Utah State was a surprise to make the tournament. Most thought the Mountain West would be a one bid league, but the Aggies deserve to be there and they will show that in their first round matchup against Texas Tech.  Utah State is a very solid rebounding team that has a stud in the middle named Neemias Queta.  Queta and Justin Bean are tough as they come on the boards and their grind it out style will be a tough matchup for the Red Raiders.  This Utah State team has two victories over San Diego State this season, a team that brings a similar toughness that Texas Tech brings to the table.  Mac McClung and company have more overall talent but they can have trouble putting together consistent offensive success.  Watch out for the Aggies.

Sleeper team to make a run- North Carolina Tarheels

North Carolina enters the 2021 tournament with very little expected of them.  A late surge in the season locked them into a spot, but they do feature the talent to make a solid run.  Their first round matchup with the Wisconsin Badgers doesn’t look as intimidating as it once did early in the season as the Badgers seem to not be able to win a big game despite all the veteran leadership.  They would then likley get a matchup with the Baylor Bears. Baylor’s three point shooting and defense seems like a surefire victory but the Bears will lack the size to handle the Tarheels in the interior. 

Carolina’s biggest problem has been lack of consistent guard play and outside shooting, RJ Davis and Leaky Black have found a groove of late that could mean trouble for opposing teams in the South Regional.  There is NBA level talent on the Tarheel roster, along with a coach that has been there before.  They will be tested right off the bat but they can pass that test without needing to study much.  (Hope you got the joke there)

Pick to win the South- Ohio State Buckeyes over Baylor Bears

NCAAB Play of the day: Detroit Titans at Northern Kentucky Norse

The Horizon League tournament is continuing Tuesday night with a matchup of one of my favorite teams the Detroit Titans versus the Northern Kentucky Norse.  

Detroit is on a 11-2 run over their last 13 games after a dreadful start to the season.  The offense has been the story for the Titans, they are averaging 76 ppg on the season. They have put up at least 80 points in 6 of their last 7 games.  They are led by arguably the best guard in the Horizon League in Antoine Davis.  Davis put on a show inthe first round of the Horizon tournament scoring 46 points against Robert Morris.  He leads an offensive that has an effective field goal percentage of 54.7% and as a team they are one of the top free throw shooting teams in college basketball shooting an astounding 80% from the line.  

Northern Kentucky has an efficient offense of their own, ranking 139th in the nation in offensive efficiency.  The Norse are strong on the inside averaging 54% from inside the arc and average a 34% offensive rebound rate.  Their advantage on the inside will allow them to score against a mediocre Detroit defense.  The Norse feature guards Trevon Faulkner and and Marquiss Walker, both have the ability to penetrate the defense and get easy buckets. 

This game features two teams that are efficient on the offensive end while lacking the ability to get consistent stops on defense. The Detroit offense will set the tone behind Antoine Davis and try and get this game to a more uptempo pace. This being a conference tournament game means we will likely see a lot of fouling at the end which plays in perfectly for the over.  Detroits ability to his outside shots and put away teams on the free throw line should lead to a victory and a higher scoring matchup. I am leaning towards Detroit at -1.5 but my favorite play is the over.

Play of the day: Over 146 (Like Detroit -1.5)

NCAAB Play of the Day: Gonzaga Bulldogs at Pacific Tigers

Sometimes the obvious is boring or misleading.  You see a line that is too good to be true and think, no I should stay away.  Fight the urge to be different on Thursday night when the #1 team in the nation the Gonzaga Bulldogs go on the road to face off against the Pacific Tigers.  The Zag’s put a beating on Pacific in their first matchup winning by 46 points in their first matchup of the year. We should see something similar in their second meeting.  

The Zags have won 5 of 6 by 22 points most recently beating and covering versus Pepperdine.  The Zags have so much depth that even if this game gets out of hand early the bench is still strong enough to dominate a terrible Pacific team.  The only chance Pacific has is to slow down the pace and force Gonzaga to defend and not run their offense.  The Tigers are slow ranking 272nd the nation in tempo, the problem is they don’t take advantage of their slow pace with an effective field goal percentage of 44.3%.  They don’t score nearly enough to truly compete. 

Laying 23 points on the road in a conference game is always a scary situation but Mark Few will have his guys ready to go and they will jump out early.  Pacific has no answer for Corey Kispert, Drew Timme or Jalen Suggs.  At each position there is a matchup nightmare.  Take the first half and the game spread.  I am playing the game spread for my play of the day because Pacific can’t score and the Zags can score at an insane rate.  

Play of the day: Gonzaga Bulldogs -23.5 

NCAAB Play of the day: Ohio Bobcats at Central Michigan Chippewas

The Ohio Bobcats are on a 3 game winning streak, that has been led by the return of their star guard Jason Preston.  With Preston on the court the Bobcats are a lethal offensive team ranking 27th nationally in effective field goal percentage at 55.1% on the season.  Preston is a stat stuffer that leads the offense in multiple categories, his ability to penetrate the defense opens up multiple passing lanes that create easy shots for his teammates.  The matchup with the dreadful Central Michigan Chippewas defense should turn into a showcase of the Junior point guard’s skills.  He is currently leading the Bobcats in points (16.4) and assists (7.5), second in rebounds (6.9), while shooting over 50% from the field.  With Preston on the court the Bobcats are a force in the offensive minded MAC. 

Central Michigan has allowed 78 ppg this season ranking near the bottom of all division 1 basketball.  They have given up 81, 89 and 83 over their past three games, all losses.  Overall Central Michigan has lost 7 of 9 in conference.  On the season they are just 4-7-2 against the spread, losing three straight numbers.  The Chippewas defense has had issues defending the interior, defensively they give up 52.6% on 2-pt field goals.  Ohio averages 55.8% from inside the 3-pt arc, ranking them top 20 in the nation.  

The Chippewa’s defensive issues will be on full display on Tuesday night.  They haven’t stopped anyone the entire season and the Ohio Bobcats with Jason Preston have been a juggernaut, running through everyone in front of them.  Central Michigan will not be able to stop Preston’s penetration.  Bobcats will win by double digits with ease.  

Play of the day: Ohio Bobcats -8

NCAAB Pick of the Day: Aggies roll in a bounce back.

Utah State Aggies at UNLV Running Rebels

Utah State dropped their first conference game to Colorado State last week.  Before that loss they had announced their presence with back to back victories of conference favorite San Diego State.  The Aggies take care of business on both ends of the floor featuring one of the top defensive units in the Mountain West  giving up just 55 points per game while holding opposing offenses to just 28% 3-pt shooitng.   

UNLV has won four straight against sub-par competition.  The four wins were against pitiful New Mexico (2), and two teams I would have to google twice to find out what division they are in St. Katherine and Benedict Mesa.  The Rebes have been solid defensively this season with an Adj defensive efficiency ranking 127th according to Kenpom.  The matchup with Utah State will be their biggest test in conference this season. 

Utah State have a balanced offensive attack with five different players averagin over 10 ppg.  They also bring a huge rebounding edge, ranking in the top twenty in rebounds per game with 41 per contest.  Utah State will have free rain around the perimeter and have a force in the middle with Neemis Queta. The Aggies have defended the 3-pt shot all season, other than their loss to Colorado State they have not allowed a team to shoot over 32% from deep. 

This game will be contested between two teams that are the top defensive squads in their conference.  The difference is the Aggies have more balance and a much higher effective field goal percentage.  The Aggies are a better team all around and should show it on Monday. 

PIck of the day: Utah State Aggies -5.5