SPORTSLINE ANALYST PICKS ATS WINNER IN CLASH OF NO. 1 SEEDS
The Wildcats are barely outside the AP top 15 they rank 17th and currently lead a power conference by two games, but this is a riskier pick than those facts suggest. So why include them? Also, history has shown that the best iteration of the AP poll for predicting tournament success is the preseason one; in that, the Wildcats were tabbed the No. Sean Miller still has a lot of work to do with this defense, his leakiest since his first season in Tucson in , but has proven himself as a defensive coach in the past.
Now he has to pull this one together for its best three-week stretch to date. Marvin Bagley III will be arguably, at worst the best player on the floor in all of their games, and is it that hard to imagine Grayson Allen going out with that kind of bang?
Just sneaking into the topon-both-ends club over the weekend, the Zags are surprisingly unheralded for a name-brand program coming off a national title game appearance and playing at this level. They may finally not win the Big 12 title. But how many teams have more quality wins than the Jayhawks? We have yet to see the best of Lagerald Vick and Malik Newman at the same time. If those two are both clicking and Devonte Graham plays like he did in the first three rounds last year, this supposedly disappointing Kansas team could prove reports of their death greatly exaggerated.
Doing this just days after the selection committee revealed its current top 16 teams, I gave myself the additional challenge of excluding a No. The Muskies were the odd men out because of their defense 59th in efficiency and their being in games decided by five points or less, suggesting that they are a few wrong bounces away from a slightly less impressive resume. Cincinnati and Texas Tech: And to the city of Cincinnati, I swear I harbor no ill will, and am in fact wearing a Rhinegeist T-shirt as I type this.
Perhaps I should apologize to the entire state of Ohio. The Tigers play fast and with a youthful confidence, and their defense is trending in the right direction. The defending champs have not proven to be very trustworthy, losing home games to Wofford and North Carolina State even while beating Duke, Ohio State, Tennessee, and Clemson, among others.
Every previous year but one, the eventual champion lost the opener on the road, then took the last two on its home court. Fans flock to the last game to provide crowd support and, with North Texas drawing well above its average Wednesday, a strong turnout is anticipated. Some stats from Game Two were telling -- a rebound advantage for the home side with just three turnovers.
Anything close to a repeat, and the crowd will go home happy. The Flames played in Lynchburg, Va. A plus mile bus trip followed. Only two players logged more than 30 minutes Wednesday 33 and 36 , so the team should not be leg-weary. Virginia was named the top overall seed in the tournament and the Cavaliers will play in the South region. No team imposed its will on college basketball this season as consistently and comprehensively as Virginia, which lost just twice all year, cruised to ACC regular season and tournament titles and posted the most efficient defense measured in the 17 seasons tracked by kenpom.
Arizona opens with a high-flying Buffalo team that saw five tournament teams during nonconference play and averaged the seventh-most points per game in the nation Its reward for besting the Bulls in Boise could be the marquee matchup of the round of Survive that blue-blood slugfest, and Arizona can look forward to the No.
Coach Sean Miller has famously bumped up against an Elite Eight ceiling three times in his nine years in Tucson, but even making it back to the regional final with three wins in the next two weeks would represent a superlative coaching job.
Cincinnati claimed the final automatic bid of Selection Sunday and a No. The Panthers, back in the bracket for the first time since R. Gilgeous-Alexander is a big reason why the Wildcats have the look of a Final Four sleeper after an especially inconsistent regular-season.
It may be too much to expect the Wildcats to shoot it as well in Boise as they did in St. Their charge will be containing Missouri Valley Conference player of the year Clayton Custer, who needs to return to his regular-season form after a shaky MVC tournament. In a conference littered with potential first-round picks, the Volunteers earned a share of first-place by outworking everyone else, with leading scorer and SEC player of the year Grant Williams setting the tone.
They take a punch from everyone in their half of the bracket and come back stronger, setting up a region defined by defense to be decided by a knock-down, drag-out battle in Atlanta. Love it or hate it, the Cavaliers have refined their brand of basketball to its purest form. They will be tested, but not bested, on their way to San Antonio. The latter distinction was the result of a relatively off stretch in February during which they lost three out of six games.
First and foremost was the play of point guard Jalen Brunson and wing Mikal Bridges, who averaged a near-identical What might be concerning is its defense, which ranks 22nd nationally but has proven susceptible, allowing 1. The Shockers have their highest seed since entering the tournament undefeated in , but the matchups are less than comforting thanks to the unusual styles they will encounter. First up is Marshall, a No.
And then, as with any No. To get there, Wichita State better prepare to slow down its first opponent, then avoid getting sped up by its likely second. This might seem like a stretch. More people are griping about them being seeded too highly at No. That draft pick is Collin Sexton, who is averaging Either of their potential opponents, who will play Thursday in Dayton, present potentially difficult matchups. UCLA is an uptempo team that can shoot the three-ball well and is led by a guard, Aaron Holiday, who just put up point games on consecutive nights in the Pac tournament.
Bonaventure has its own potential big-game scorer in senior Jaylen Adams Still, the Wildcats are too good in general and playing too well now to see them failing to reach at least the Elite Eight. In a squeaker, that gives us a No. But frankly, Villanova is the No. A year after another first-weekend flameout, the Wildcats live up to their seeding and head to San Antonio.
The Midwest is headlined by a program that knows a thing or two about being a No. This marks the eighth time in 12 seasons, as well as the third consecutive season, that the Jayhawks earned a spot on the top line. This region has something for everyone: Kansas will cruise into the NCAAs following its second Big 12 tournament title in three years—before that, the Jayhawks won a record-setting 14th consecutive regular season conference title.