- July 14, 2019
- Posted by: Web Admin
- Category: Uncategorized
Top seed outlook: On paper, the Midwest seems to be the most open of the four areas, but we nevertheless give No. 1 North Carolina the greatest odds, with a 35 percent probability of reaching the Final Four and also an 18 percent probability of appearing in the national championship match. Those chances are at least 8 percentage points lower than every other No. 1 team in the field, however, and for good reason: North Carolina’s offense depends on turning every play right into a fast break. The Tar Heels fight to get to the free-throw lineup and give up a slew of shots across the perimeter, and that, in a slowed-down, half-court matchup, could be rather problematic.
After getting chased by Duke to open the season, No. 2 Kentucky has caught fire in recent weeks while discovering balance on the two ends of the floor and mostly abstaining from the 3-point line. No. 3 Houston, meanwhile, is currently in the midst of its very best season since Clyde Drexler and Hakeem Olajuwon were revolutionizing college basketball, and they boast a defense which ranks among the very best along and inside the perimeter.
Sneaky Final Four pick: No. 5 Auburn. Whenever the Tigers steamrolled Tennessee 84-64 in Sunday’s SEC title game, it probably got the focus of a lot of bracket-pickers. That was not a one off — Auburn also beat Tennessee eight days earlier, part of a string of eight consecutive wins for the Tigers, and 10 in their past 11 games. With an explosive offense (No. 8 in KenPom efficacy ) that got more of its points from downtown than any other group in the NCAA field, Auburn can heat up in a hurry. We give the Tigers almost a coin-flip’s likelihood of making the Sweet 16 — and a very solid 37 percent likelihood of beating top-seeded North Carolina when the Tar Heels are waiting for Auburn there. The sole kryptonite might be a hypothetical regional-final matchup with No. 2 seed Kentucky, which beat the Tigers by 27 in late February to sweep their season collection.
Do not bet on: No. 4 Kansas. The Jayhawks went into the year ranked No. 1 in the AP’s preseason poll, and they appeared to validate the choice by starting the season 10-0. However a 15-9 record (and a few key injuries) since then have cast doubt on Kansas’s NCAA Tournament potential. This is a well-balanced team, but to say it does not shoot well from the outside is an understatement — see KU’s 3-for-18 performance from deep into Saturday’s Big 12 ouster against Iowa State. Add an unfavorable draw that puts them on an expected second-round crash course with Auburn (see above), and we give the Jayhawks only an 8% chance of making out of the Midwest with their championship hopes undamaged.
Cinderella watch: No. 11 Ohio State. In case a Big Ten team which has made 11 Final Fours could be a Cinderella, then you are considering it in these Buckeyes. (Hey, the committee’s rising trend to seed underwhelming power-conference colleges this manner really contrasts with the definition) OSU went only 18-13 throughout the regular season, was defeated its second Big Ten tournament game and has nearly twice as many losses as wins since New Year’s. Why are the Buckeyes a potential Cinderella? Despite the seed, this is still a dangerous group, one that ranks 27th from Pomeroy’s corrected defensive evaluations and contains celebrity forwards Kaleb Wesson back out of suspension. So perhaps they will give Big 12 champ Iowa State trouble. But this tells you something about another potential Cinderellas in this region: Seton Hall obtained a very tough first-round matchup with underseeded Wofford; none of those other low seeds here are world-beaters. That leaves the Buckeyes, a group which did all it could to play its way from the championship, but has some upset potential no matter.
Player to watch: UNC, Cameron Johnson On a team that doesn’t hoist a lot of shots from the perimeter, Johnson is as lethal as they come. Observing an injury-riddled campaign in which he barely made more than one third of his looks from outside the arc, the grad student is canning 46.5 percent of his efforts, which ranks inside the top 25 nationally.
Johnson has flourished in North Carolina’s every-possession-is-a-transition-opportunity plot this year. He has blossomed into one of the best scorers in the ACC, standing between the 85th and 100th percentiles in scoring efficacy in transitionoff screens and on spot-ups.
Johnson has raised his game in conference play, boasting the ACC’s top offensive rating (132.5) and accurate shooting percentage (64.6). Unexpectedly, a player who wasn’t seen as a guaranteed professional now jobs for a second-round pick.
Likeliest first-round upsets: No. 9 Washington over No. 8 Utah State (49 percent); No. 10 Seton Hall over No. 7 Wofford (37 percent); No. 11 Ohio State over No. 6 Iowa State (33 percent)
Check out our March Madness predictions.
CORRECTION (March 18, 2019, 3:10 p.m.): A former version of this story misstated the amount of Sweet 16s created by Villanova in recent seasons. Although the Wildcats have reached the NCAA Tournament’s”third round” in four of their past five seasons, that round was the Round of 32 until 2016 because of NCAA naming conventions.
Read more: manchesterinnews.com