NCAA March Madness Preview — South Region

NCAA BASKETBALL: MAR 20 Div I Men’s Championship – Second Round – Ohio State v Villanova
PITTSBURGH, PA – MARCH 20: Villanova Wildcats head coach Jay Wright talks to Villanova Wildcats guard Collin Gillespie (2) during the men’s March Madness college basketball game between the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Villanova Wildcats on March 20, 2022 at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, PA. (Photo by Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire)

As the craziness of March continues, there is certain to be some more excitement on the way. The South Region of the NCAA tournament is one of two regions to have the first and second seed still in the tournament. Arizona and Villanova are the most likely candidates to come out of the South, with Houston also posing a legitimate threat. The remaining four teams will tip-off at 7:30 and 10:00 today.

Arizona (1) vs. Houston (5)

In what is a strong candidate for what will be the most entertaining game this weekend, Arizona and Houston are set for a heavyweight matchup. Arizona finished 2nd in the country in the AP rankings this season with their 31-3 record on the season. They are the real deal and led by projected lottery pick Bennedict Mathurin and big man Christian Koloko, who also is getting some NBA buzz. They play a hard-nosed style of play and are not short on confidence despite being pushed to overtime by 9th seeded TCU in the previous round. 

If any team has a chance in the game, it is Houston, as they entered the NCAA tournament 2nd in KenPom rankings amongst all teams. They had a regular-season record of 31-5 and are an experienced team, with four of their starters being in their senior season. Houston averages 75.2 points per game on the season and is the 23rd best rebounding team in the nation. The biggest red flag in the Cougars’ play is their free-throw shooting as they shoot just 66.7% as a team which is the 324th worst ranking in college basketball. 

Arizona trails only Gonzaga in odds to win the NCAA tournament as a whole but favors Houston by just 2.5 points in this matchup. Houston is a +116 underdog, and the over-under is set at 145.5, which should not be a surprise as both teams like to run and fill up the score sheet. 

NCAA Betting Lines

Per Draft Kings, the Arizona Wildcats are the favorites to win tonight’s matchup.

  • Spread: Arizona -1.5
  • Arizona Moneyline: -125
  • Houston Moneyline: +105
  • O/U: 145.5
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Villanova (2) vs Michigan (11)

The Wildcats were the only team to make the NCAA tournament from the Philadelphia area and the state of Pennslyvania as a whole. Villanova cruised past 15th seeded Delaware in the first round by a score of 80-60 and took down 7th seeded Ohio State 71-61 in the round of 32. Led by Collin Gillespie, Nova checks about every box you look for in the ingredients for a deep tournament run. 

The Wildcats are the number one free-throw shooting team in the country at 82.6% as a team. They also take care of the ball very well and are an effective perimeter shooting team. Gillespie is the team’s leading scorer at 16 points per game and also adds 3.8 rebounds and 3.4 assists. The biggest weakness for Villanova is their lack of height and below-average rebounding ability as a team.

The Michigan Wolverines are making a somewhat surprising trip to the Sweet 16 after a somewhat disappointing season. So far, Michigan has beaten 6th-seeded Colorado State and 3rd-seeded Tennessee to get to this round. Hunter Dickinson is fresh off a 27 points, 11 rebounds, and four assists performance in the victory over Tennessee and has proved to be an impact player for Michigan. His matchup with Villanova standout Jermaine Samuels will be a key for both sides in the game.

Unsurprisingly Villanova is the favorite as Vegas gives them a five-point advantage and sets the over-under at 135. This game will tip off on Thursday at 7:30 PM EST. 

NCAA Betting Lines

Per Draft Kings, the Villanova Wildcats are the favorites to win tonight’s matchup.

  • Spread: Villanova -5
  • Villanova Moneyline: -235
  • Michigan Moneyline: +190
  • O/U: 135.5
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Odds to Win Region:

Arizona is the biggest favorite to win this region with +140 odds to come out of the South. Villanova and Houston are not far behind them, with +240 odds for each team. Lastly, Michigan holds +1000 odds to get out of the region and for their NCAA Cinderella run to continue.

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