The South is this year’s group of death with North Carolina, Kentucky, and UCLA as the top three seeds. There is a lot to look forward to with this bracket as three major contenders for the Wooden Award will showcase their talents. So what should you be watching for in the South Region? Let’s take a look.
Best First Round Matchup – Friday, 7:10 ET (CBS)
It should come as no surprise that a 7 vs. 10 matchup is the best, but Dayton vs. Wichita State is going to be a dandy. Two storied mid-major programs that have gained the nation’s love recently in the past few seasons. Dayton with it’s Elite Eight run in 2014 and of course Wichita with it’s 35-1 season that same year. This game has it all, starting with two loyal and fantastic coaches who are in it for the long haul, Archie Miller and Gregg Marshall. It has a very nice guard matchup with Scoochie Smith and Charles Cooke for Dayton, facing Conner Frankamp and Landry Shamet. To make matters a little more interesting, Dayton gets this game just 117 miles away from their campus, so expect Flyer Nation to be out in strong numbers.
Biggest First Round Upset Potential – Thursday, 1:30 ET (TNT)
Everyone and their mother is talking about Middle Tennessee State beating Minnesota, but I am not buying into that. I think the biggest potential for a huge upset is 13-seeded Winthrop over 4-seeded Butler. Winthrop has Keon Johnson, the best three point shooter you’ve never heard of and he is hotter than ever after an outstanding Big South Tournament. He scored 88 points in three games and knocked down 14 three’s along the way. Johnson has scored more than 30 points in seven games this season including 38 in a win at Illinois. On the other side, Butler comes in on a 2-game losing streak in which they shot the ball very poorly, especially from behind the arc (25%). Winthrop likes to run up and down the floor and if they can shoot 40 percent from behind the arc in this one, Butler will be in trouble.
Best Individual Player vs. Player Matchup – Friday, 1:30 ET (TNT)
Seton Hall’s Khadeen Carrington against Arkansas’s Dusty Hannahs should be electric. Both players have scored in double-figures in all but four games this season. Both are local hometown heroes from their respective schools and both can score in electric ways. These two acrobatic guards will wow you with the different ways they can score, and will easily be the two best players on the floor. It is definitely also worth noting that Carrington is one of the best defenders in the Big East, so I give him a slight upper edge in the matchup.
Best Potential Second Round Matchup
If all goes according to plan, we get the second round matchup of a lifetime of #2 Kentucky and #10 Wichita State. In case you have forgotten about the 2014 tournament, Kentucky was the 8-seed in Wichita State’s #1 seeded region. The game went back-and-forth as the Harrison twins battled Cleanthony Early. Down the stretch Early did everything he could to keep the Shocker’s perfect season going, but they fell just two points short. Fast forward to 2017 and Gregg Marshall gets his chance at redemption, something that Wichita State fans are now begging for.