March Madness South Region Preview

March Madness

The South part of the March Madness bracket is set to kick off Thursday in San Antonio. It projects to be the toughest of the four based on the caliber of the top teams. Home to multiple conference tournament winners, the region is highlighted by the No. 1 seed Arizona Wildcats. Along with this, the Villanova Wildcats and Tennessee Volunteers are both capable of going on a run and cutting down the nets. Looking farther and farther down this section, the Houston Cougars are also carrying a lot of momentum into the big dance after capturing the AAC Tournament title. Furthermore, multiple double-digit seeds can make noise in the first few rounds, with Chattanooga, Loyola Chicago, and Longwood all set up on this side.

Make sure to check out all of our other March Madness content.

Wright State Raiders/Bryant Bears (16) vs. Arizona Wildcats (1) 

Date: Friday, March 18
Time: 7:27 pm
Where to Watch: truTV
Spread: TBD
MoneyLine: TBD
Over/Under: TBD


Picked by many as one of the front runners to capture the National Championship, Arizona will enter this game as a heavy favorite. Home to one of the best players in the country in guard Bennedict Mathurin, the Wildcats also have a tremendous frontcourt in Azuolas Tubelis and Christian Koloko. One of the best rebounding teams in the country, Tommy Lloyd’s group is currently averaging 38.8 per game to rank second in the nation. Along with this, they are second in field goal percentage and first in assists.

For Bryant and Wright State, the formula to pull off the upset for either program will be to rely on standout performances from their best players. Currently leading the nation in scoring, senior Peter Kiss has been tremendous all year long for the Bears. He has surpassed the 30 point mark in seven of his last ten contests. Much like their play-in counterpart, the Raiders run their offense through guard Tanner Holden and forward Grant Basile. Both are averaging close to 20 points per game while touching the ball on close to 60 percent of their group’s possessions.


Projected Winner: Arizona

Delaware Blue Hens (15) vs. Villanova Wildcats (2) 

Date: Friday, March 18
Time: 2:45 pm
Where to Watch: CBS
Spread: Delaware +15.5 (-110) | Villanova -15.5 (-110)
MoneyLine: Delaware +905 | Villanova -1750
Over/Under: Over 133.5 (-115) | Under 133.5 (-105)

Villanova is set to make their third NCAA Tournament appearance in the last four years. The team finished second in the Big East behind Providence. However, they still captured the conference title to help secure the No. 2 seed in the region. Home to one of the best backcourts in the country, the group will be led by Collin Gillespie and Justin Moore. Both players led the Wildcats in scoring with over 15 points per night while spending over 33 minutes on the floor. Unlike their opponent, Delaware relies much more on a balanced attack on the offensive end.

As hot as any program heading into the tourney, the Blue Hens won their final three games to secure their sixth spot in the big dance in their history. Likely to receive much attention throughout the tournament will be junior guard Jameer Nelson Jr. The unquestioned leader for the team, Nelson is averaging 13.7 points, 2.2 assists, and five rebounds per game. Needing to continue their strong attack if they hope to pull off their first tournament win in school history, look for Jay Wright and company to be too much to overcome.


Projected Winner: Villanova 

Longwood Lancers (14) vs. Tennessee Volunteers (3)

Date: Thursday, March 18
Time: 2:45 pm
Where to Watch: CBS
Spread: Longwood +17.5 (-120) | Tennessee -17.5 (+100)
MoneyLine: Longwood +1200 | Tennessee -2500
Over/Under: Over 132 (+100) | Under 132 (-120)

Tennesee put together one of their most impressive seasons in recent memory. The Volunteers knocked off Arizona, LSU, Kentucky, Auburn, and Arkansas. Along with this, they also captured the SEC championship after defeating Texas A&M in the final. As talented a group as you will find in the field, Rick Barnes’s crew is deep and can score at will. One of the feel-good stories of the tournament, the Lancers are making their first appearance in March Madness in their program history. The team won the Big South after going 15-1 in conference play. A dynamic group on the offensive end, Longwood is capable of shooting the lights out at any moment.

Currently ranked eighth in the nation in three-point percentage, both Justin Hill and Deshaun Wade are capable of carrying the group. Destined to be one of the best games of the opening slate, the key for Griff Aldrich’s group will be to take care of the basketball. One of the best teams in the nation at forcing turnovers, Tennessee averages 9.3 steals per game. While Longwood has the talent and athleticism to give the Volunteers a run early, look for the three seed to pull away and cruise late.

Projected Winner: Tennessee

Chattanooga Mocs (13) vs. Illinois Fighting Illini (4)

Date: Friday, March 18
Time: 6:50 pm
Where to Watch: TNT
Spread: Chattanooga +7.5 (-110) | Illinois -7.5 (-110)
MoneyLine: Chattanooga +250 | Illinois -320
Over/Under: Over 135.5 (-110) | Under 135.5 (-110)

In a potential upset matchup, Illinois plays host to Chattanooga on Friday in Pittsburgh. Looking to rebound after falling to Loyola Chicago a year ago, the Fighting Illini have struggled leading into the big dance. Disappointingly knocked off in the quarter-finals of the Big Ten Tournament, the team fell 65-63 to Indiana. Home to one of the nation’s best front-court players in Kofi Cockburn, the seven-footer is the only player in the country to average 20 points and 10 rebounds a night.

Back in March Madness for the 12th time in their program history, the Mocs punched their ticket with a buzzer-beater win in the Southern Conference Tournament. Guard Malachi Smith and David Jean-Baptiste are two of their better backcourt mates in the field. The former is averaging 20 points per game while shooting over 50 percent from the field while the latter is second on the team in assists.

Projected Winner: Chattanooga

UAB Blazers (12) vs. Houston Cougars (5)

Date: Friday, March 18
Time: 9:20 pm
Where to Watch: TNT
Spread: UAB +8.5 (-105) | Houston -8.5 (-115)
MoneyLine: UAB +300 | Houston -400
Over/Under: Over 136 (+100) | Under 136 (-120)

UAB put together their strongest season in over 20 years. The team won 27 games, including a 14-4 record in conference play. Winners of the C-USA tournament, the Blazers head into Friday Night red hot. They have won seven in a row, with their last loss coming to North Texas. Earning a tough draw in their opening round, the group will meet Houston. Fresh off a final four appearance a year ago, the Cougars won the AAC to earn an automatic bid in March Madness.

One of the best defensive clubs in the nation, Kelvin Sampson’s group is fourth in the country with an 89.5 defensive rating. Along with this, the team is also deep, with all five starters scoring in double figures. In what projects typically an upset game in the 12 vs five matchup, look for Houston to win a close, low-scoring battle.

Projected Winner: Houston

Michigan Wolverines (11) vs. Colorado State Rams (6)

Date: Thursday, March 17
Time: 12:15 pm
Where to Watch: CBS
Spread: Michigan -2.5 (-105) | Colorado State +2.5 (-115)
MoneyLine: Michigan +140 | Colorado State +120
Over/Under: Over 139 (-110) | Under 139 (-110)

Back in the tournament for the first time since the 2013 season, the Rams secured their 11th bid. The team won 25 games to sit second in the Mountain West behind Boise State. Guided by their star scorer in David Roddy, the junior will likely hear his name called on NBA draft night in April. He is averaging 19.4 points and 7.6 rebounds per game. On the flip side, the 2021 season has not been smooth sailing for the Wolverines.

They amassed a disappointing 17-13 record after starting the year out as a top ten team in the AP Poll. Led on the offensive end by Hunter Dickinson, Michigan also has an outstanding freshman duo in Moussa Diabate and Caleb Houstan. This will be one of the most challenging games to predict in this region of the bracket. Look for Juwan Howard‘s group to carry a slight edge after their run to the elite eight a year ago.

Projected Winner: Michigan

Loyola Chicago Ramblers (10) vs. Ohio State Buckeyes (7)

Date: Friday, March 18
Time: 12:15 pm
Where to Watch: CBS
Spread: Loyola Chicago -1 (-110) | Ohio State +1 (-110)
MoneyLine: Loyola Chicago -115 | Ohio State -105
Over/Under: Over 132.5 (-110) | Under 132.5 (-110)

Ohio State will be looking to rebound after they were bounced in the Big Ten Tournament by Penn State. Riding a two-game losing streak, the Buckeyes are battling multiple injuries. Four forwards are designated as game-time decisions as they battle various ailments. Struggling to get stops on the defensive end all season long, Chris Holtmann’s group will rely heavily on their high-flying offense if they are going to find success in this one.

Back in the big dance for the second consecutive year, Loyola Chicago has quickly established itself as one of the best mid-major programs in the country. A tough draw for anyone in the field, they play balanced on both ends of the floor. The team is ranked inside the top 40 in the nation in both offensive and defensive ratings. They should overcome their opponent in another round one thriller.   

Projected Winner: Loyola Chicago

Seton Hall Pirates (9) vs. TCU Horned Frogs (8)

Date: Friday, March 18
Time: 9:57 pm
Where to Watch: truTV
Spread: Seton Hall -1 (-105) | TCU +1 (-115)
MoneyLine: Seton Hall -115 | TCU -105
Over/Under: Over 130 (-110) | Under 130 (-110)

Off to a hot start, Seton Hall started the season with a 9-1 record. They underwent a tough stretch of play in the middle of their season. However, the team still finished the year at 21-10, including an 11-8 mark in conference play. This led them to earn the number nine seed. Guided by the play of their strong senior backcourt duo, Jared Rhoden and Myles Cale can both shoot the ball exceptionally well from the field.

TCU secured their bid in the field after an outstanding Big 12 tournament. The Horned Frogs knocked off Texas before falling to Kansas in the semi-finals. A tough deep team, Jamie Dixon‘s squad is peaking at the right time. Possessing the ability to match up with the high-powered guard tandem of their opponent, look for them to secure their first win in March Madness since 1987.

Projected Winner: TCU

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Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images


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