NCAA Tournament South Region Betting Preview
The NCAA Tournament has arrived with “First Four” games starting on Tuesday in Dayton, Ohio. I’ve been handicapping the Big Dance for over a decade and one of my techniques has always been to jot down my initial thoughts and opinions — call it “stream of consciousness” — on teams and matchups. Here is my “first glance” breakdown of the South Region. You can read about the East Region here.
If you’re looking for teams that like to walk the ball up the floor and need overtime to get to 60 points, the South Region is for you! Virginia (353rd tempo), Saint Mary’s (347th), Kansas State (342nd), Cincinnati (338th), Villanova (333rd), Wisconsin (332nd), Oregon (328th), Old Dominion (325th) and UC Irvine (296th) make up over half of the region. Sportsbooks should offer a prop bet on number of shot violations in each game. Virginia went 7-1 ATS during the regular season laying -20 or more. Just saying. There should be a rule that you can’t earn an at-large berth if you don’t average over a point per possession in conference play. Sorry, Oklahoma. I hope Ole Miss beats the Sooners because at least the Rebels have a fighting chance to score 60+ vs. the Cavaliers. The Wisconsin-Oregon total opened 116! Ken Pom is obviously pretty good at his craft and the Big Ten was a tough league but Wisconsin’s no. 12 rating is laughably overrated. Sagarin is a little more realistic at no. 16. But it’s clear oddsmakers don’t agree with either. KenPom has Wisky -5 and Sagarin -3.5. The Badgers are currently -1 across the board. Ducks close as the favorite, especially with game in San Jose. Kansas State’s Dean Wade does nothing outstanding but everything above average. Without him, the Wildcats often times look completely lost on offense. He’s iffy for the tournament which means UC Irvine — a mid-major version of K-State — is very live. Villanova-St. Mary’s is a fascinating x’s and o’s matchup. The Wildcats epitomize the live-and-die-by-the-three mantra; it’s nearly 43% of their offense. The Gaels are one of the nation’s best at running teams off the 3-point line. Just ask Gonzaga who shot 2-of-17 from deep in its 60-47 loss to SMC in the WCC title game. Purdue sees plodding Old Dominion on a nightly basis in the Big Ten. But ODU can run multiple guys at Carson Edwards. Iowa went 14-4 in games with 70 or more possessions and 8-7 with 69 or fewer. What pace subset do you think the Hawkeyes will fall under against Cincinnati? Bearcats got a sweet draw too with game in Columbus. I keep waiting for Tennessee’s defense to show up but its last four games were alarming: 1.27, 1.13, 1.21, and 1.22 point per possession allowed. That doesn’t play well in March. And Colgate has the size (6-10, 6-9, 6-8 and 6-8) and outside shooting (39% 3-pt.) to cause problems.