PJ's Predictions: Round of 64, South Region
In the south region, the first round will be very exciting to watch. There will be many teams that could be upset and most likely will. The irony of this region is the number one seeded Virginia lost to a sixteen seed last year as a one seed. The first round in the south is predicted to be pure madness.
Villanova, the reigning national champs, are facing St. Mary’s. This should be a very close game, considering that Villanova is talented and experienced but has lost a few players from last year. Also, St. Mary’s has proven to beat talent as they went out and stole the west coast conference from the number one seeded Gonzaga. Although this will be a close game, the big factor that will give Villanova the win is their experience and their great coach, Coach Wright, sending them to the second round.
The next matchup is Purdue and Old Dominion. Purdue runs a unique offense and has been working all season, but there has been question as to if it will be effective in the tournament. Other than that they are very talented and should take care of business and win this game. However, Old Dominion is a very underrated team, and if Purdue overlooks them, they could pull off an upset.
The seven seed versus the ten seed is normally supposed to be an even matchup but in the south region, it doesn’t appear to be that way. Iowa and Cincinnati will be facing each other in Ohio, which is very close to Cincinnati, virtually making it a home game. Cincinnati is also very talented and will get the win and head into the second round where they will also play in Ohio.
The matchup of the eight and nine seeded teams in the south region is probably the least talked about game in the first round, but it is probably the most even matchup in the tournament. Oklahoma and Ole Miss will battle to the finish and while it will be a game full of suspense, Oklahoma will win it because of the chip on their shoulder to make it to the second round, something they were unable to accomplish last year.
The next matchup looks very unbalanced, UC Irvine versus Kansas State. UC Irvine is a team that has great potential. They could be a team that comes out of nowhere and goes far in the tournament, but could also possibly lose first round. Kansas State will have a tough thirteen seed matchup, but they are very talented and can win big games. Kansas State is a team that will not overlook their challenge and will play hard in every game, which is why they will pull through, sending them to the second round, however they will have to play almost perfect to do this.
This next matchup might seem to be an easy win for Virginia over Gardner-Webb, but last year they lost to a sixteen seed. Virginia is still clearly the more talented team and will not overlook this game this time. However it is hard to be sure about this game due to last year, but Virginia is more experienced this year and many of their players have grown to be very skilled.
The final game of the first round in the south region is a very interesting matchup. As many other five seeds versus twelve seeds, it is very possible that there could be an upset. Wisconsin has been a great team all year and still has a good chance in this game, but the injuries this season has caused them to lose some games, possibly affecting this matchup. Oregon had also suffered some injuries, specifically their star center Bol Bol has been injured for many games this season, which caused the Ducks to struggle. However they did win the Pac-12 championship and are looking to win this matchup. This will be a great game to watch as Oregon will come out with the same intensity they had going into their conference tournament, and they will pull off the upset in a nail biter.