There are some interesting teams in this region as there is a plethora of talented teams here, that all vary in their style of play. However, there is one thing each of them will try to do and that is top Virginia for a spot in the Final Four. With that being said, here is a look at each team.
- Kansas State
- Ole Miss
- Saint Mary’s
- UC Irvine
- Old Dominion
No, no, they won’t lose in the first round this time around. This version of Virginia might be the most talented team the school has seen the last 20 years as they can truly shoot the ball and head coach Tony Bennett has instilled a very tough defense that other teams seemingly cannot figure out. However, they are also very deep and have some great players like Kyle Guy, De’Andre Hunter, and Ty Jerome.
No one foresaw Tennessee becoming the juggernaut that they became this season, but they can truly play some really good basketball. However, they boast a lot of experience and are also very potent on offense and very stingy on defense as they rank in the top 20. They don’t shoot three pointers very often, so that could be a concern the further they get in the tournament. Some of their top players are Grant Williams, Admiral Schofield, and Jordan Bone.
Purdue had a very strong end to the season after starting it very slowly, that being said though is this version of the team is not as strong as the past two in the tournament and could be an early favorite for an early exit. This team relies on Carsen Edwards as he scores lots and lots of points, but he really doesn’t have much support from his team. That being said, there is some talent here and taking them lightly might be a bad thing too.
Kansas State for a while there was the talk of College Basketball because of how well they played as they play solid defense. They have since cooled, but are still a dark horse threat to win. That being said, the health of Carter Wade will be important if they want to make a deep run. Barry Brown Jr and Cartier Diarra should be able to support the team if Wade cannot play.
Wisconsin play in a very tough Big Ten and finished fourth in the conference, but they are a threat to go deep in the tournament. Just like Virginia, they play very tough defense, but sometimes their potentially potent offense cannot score points and their free throw shooting is atrocious. Some of the key players are Ethan Happ, D’Mitrik Trice, and Brad Davison.
They are the defending champions, though not as strong as they used to be. That being said they have a chance to repeat as they have quite the recipe to be successful. They shoot three-pointers like crazy as they average 11 per game. That being said, when they can’t shoot well beyond the arc, they are vulnerable. Some of the key players here are Phil Booth, Eric Paschall, and Collin Gillespie.
The Bearcats usually play good solid defense, so they have as good a chance to make a deep run in the tournament. However, being the seven seed hurts their chances with that. There was talk about whether they should be a top 25 side, and it showed with them winning their tournament. Star player Jarron Cumberland will need to be on the top of his game if Cincinnati wants to do anything in this tournament.
Many didn’t expect Ole Miss to do much this season, but after using a four guard lineup, they are now playing in the tournament. Their ability to control the tempo and be play-up has allowed to win a lot of games, but they also score when it counts as they have shot 78.3% of their attempts at the free throw line. Breein Tyree, Terence Davis, and Devontae Shuler are some of Ole Miss’ key players.
A bit of a surprise to see them nab a nine seed after a sub .500 record in conference play, but here they are trying to prove themselves in the tournament. They have been playing excellent defense and that has been a big reason as to why they made the tournament, however, they lack a true scoring threat and their most likely player to be their “threat” is Christian James.
Defense has been the achilles heel for Iowa as it costed them lots of games down the stretch, but here they are in the tournament as a 10 seed with a chance of redemption. When their defense is on, they are very tough to beat and have a chance to go deep in the tournament, but that’s a big “if.” One of the key players for Iowa is Tyler Cook, but Jordan Bohannon is another crucial player for this team.
This isn’t quite the same Saint Mary’s teams of the past, but they still have some talent here and have the ability to possibly go deep if their three point shooting gets hot. That being said, they did defeat a Gonzaga team that has a one seed in this tournament, which goes to show that they can beat anyone. Jordan Ford and Malik Fitts are key pieces to their offense if they want to win.
A very dangerous 12 seed in this tournament, the Ducks may be a dark horse candidate to go deep in this tournament because not only do they have a lot of size, they also have a very strong defense which helped them win a lot of games down the stretch during the season. Some of their key players are Payton Pritchard and Louis King.
UC Irvine might be another team that has a chance for an upset as they have a very punishing defense that just does not allow most offenses to get going. It worked well for them in conference play as they lost only one game during the regular season. They also force their opponents to shoot a lot and let them try to beat them beyond the arc. A key player for their team is Max Hazzard.
One thing they boast a lot of is veteran leadership. They also have a lot of balance in their team as they can both score and play solid defense. Their two key players are B.J. Stith and Ahmad Caver however, those are the only two players they can rely on as they don’t have much after that.
Colgate is coming in hot as they have won 11 straight are trying to win a 12th, but it comes at a price of a 15 seed and a formidable foe in Tennessee. One thing they do well is that they shoot from beyond the arc really well, but that might be one of the only things that might help them in this tournament as they are heavy underdogs. One of their key players is Rapolas Ivanauskas.
Another first timer in the tournament, this could be interesting for them as they are a 16 seed and have to face Virginia. Their hope is to be the next UMBC, but it will be unlikely. David Efianayi and DJ Laster are the main sources of offense for this team, but there is also the promising Jose Perez.
This might be the weakest of all the regions as it’s incredibly top heavy and lacking possible candidates to upset, but it could be interesting who makes out of it and wins as there some strong sides here who could win the National Championship.