While teams have been getting knocked out left and right in the bracket the Southern region brought a calmer result. We had only two upsets in the region and honestly, these were likely popular picks in the bracket challenges. While it seems like there is nothing to talk about the South is more interesting than it seems.
#1 Arizona vs #16 Wright State
The Wildcats would not be too bothered by Wright State as they were able to move on to the second round winning 87-70. Wright State stood their ground early in the game giving Arizona all they could muster. Unfortunately for Wright State, Arizona would be able to get everyone involved and start to cruise into the second round. 5 players on the Arizona roster were in double digits. The top 3 scorers for the Wildcats had 15+ points. Wright State just didn’t catch Arizona on a bad shooting day, if they did we could have seen a possible repeat of the UMBC-Virginia matchup.
#8 Seton Hall vs #9 TCU
I would just like to start this matchup by declaring that I predicted this matchup to be very one-sided. TCU had been a strong team all year and I thought they were going to be a higher seed especially after beating Texas in the Big 12 tournament. Senton Hall had a very up and down year and it would ultimately end at the hands of TCU’s defense. TCU was able to be more physical than them which really made it difficult for Seton Hall to get going.
#5 Houston vs #12 UAB
This was a popular upset pick as people thought UAB would be able to keep up with the Houston shooting. All those people were wrong. Houston came out firing from beyond the arc and were successful on the other side of the court as well. The Cougars were able to shoot 47.6% from beyond the arc and more importantly held the Dragons to 26.3% from beyond the arc. If UAB was hotter we could have been looking at an upset, unfortunately for them, that was not the case.
#4 Illinois vs #13 Chattanooga
What could have been my upset pick of the century ended up falling the wrong way towards the end of the game. The Mocs stayed in front of the Fighting Illini the entire game. Illinois was only able to get the lead late in the 2nd half and it would ultimately lead to Chattanooga’s downfall. You might be wondering what was the issue for the Mocs late and it was just converting on offense. The Mocs stalled at 54 points from the 4:34 mark to the 0:32 mark where Malachi Smith would knock down two free throws. This team only needed one bucket in that time frame and they would be dancing in March. Instead, Illinois finds themselves escaping one of the more defensive games of the tourney.
#6 Colorado State vs #11 Michigan
This was the opening game of the tournament and it did not disappoint. Michigan would start off the game cold, turning the ball over and struggling to make buckets. In the second half, they were able to quickly improve and take the lead about halfway through the second half. Really Michigan staying hot saved their season and was able to keep dancing. Their defense could really use some help and they need to limit their turnovers going into the next game.
#3 Tennessee vs #14 Longwood
One of the more lopsided affairs in the tournament featured Tennesee rolling into the second round. The size advantage for the Volunteers was too much for Lockwood. The bigs for the Vols were quickly able to capitalize and give Tennesee control of the game early. Tennesse was also able to get super hot from beyond the arc going 14-23 in the game contributing to the 88-56 victory. The Vols were able to space out the court with their size advantage leading to the easy victory.
#7 Ohio State vs #10 Loyola Chicago
Disappointed would be an understatement from this Loyola team. Usually, we see a team that is much better on the offensive side of the court and we did not see this at all in this game. The Ramblers would only put 41 points against the Buckeyes and still only lost by 13. This was extremely underwhelming from the Ramblers as I expected more from a team that is usually much better. I would credit the Buckeyes defense here but this just looked like bad shooting when I was watching the game. Ohio State did enough to get the job done but on any other day, the Ramblers could likely take care of business.
#2 Villanova vs #15 Delaware
I did not see Delaware coming and hanging with Villanova for most of the game. The Blue Hens came out swinging taking an 8 point lead early in the game. Once Villanova was able to settle in, Jay Wright’s team got the lead back. Villanova would get hot and shoot 50.9% from the floor which really got them back in control of the game. It really felt like early that Deleware would keep up with the Wildcats, Villanova would just get hot robbing the world of a potential double #2 vs #15 upset.
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