2022 Men's Basketball NCAA Tournament South Regional Overview

 South Regional Overview
As Arizona put the final touches of a title-winning victory over UCLA in the PAC-12 Tournament, the Wildcats knew they were going dancing. With its hard-to-keep-up-with offense and respectable defense, they put pressure on every one of its opponents and succeeded most of the time. But this crop of college teams, like Villanova, Tennessee, and Illinois, have the potential to put pressure on the Wildcats themselves.
#1 Arizona, #2 Villanova, #3 Tennessee, #4 Illinois, #5 Houston, #6 Colorado State, #7 Ohio State, #8 Seton Hall, #9 TCU, #10 Loyola (IL), #11 Michigan, #12 UAB, #13 Chattanooga, #14 Longwood, #15 Delaware, #16 Wright State / Bryant
Who Can Win?
As usual, the #1 seed is the team with the most promise. Arizona, the Pac-12 champions who only lost thrice in the season, look great and are a candidate to win it all. The only thing marring the Wildcats’ record is a surprise loss to Colorado, but other than that. Arizona is almost perfect. They are undefeated against Q2, Q3, and Q4 opposition, and its other two losses came from Tennessee and UCLA, and could potentially win it all. Villanova and Tennessee are also candidates to advance to the Final Four.
Who Can Surprise?
Led by powerful center Kofi Cockburn and Trent Frazier, Illinois can forge a deep run despite their #4 seed. Illinois’ free-scoring offense will daunt even the most defensive teams. AAC powerhouse Houston also has the potential to launch a deep run thanks to their potent offense.
Who’s Hot?
You have to be incredibly consistent and clinical to be in the conversation as a #1 seed. The Wildcats were all that, and more, terrorizing the Pac-12 and sending a message to basketball teams throughout the nation. With few losses, a Pac-12 regular-season title, and a conference title, Arizona comes into the D1 championship as a red-hot team with plenty of medals and stats to show for it.
Who’s Cold?
Like Auburn, Illinois lost all their momentum with a sudden, close loss against Indiana. That loss was characterized by poor, inefficient shooting, something Illinois cannot let happen against Chattanooga. Michigan, who had a mediocre regular season, had an even worse postseason by losing almost immediately against the Hoosiers. You can also add Ohio State to the list after losing to sub-.500 Penn State in the postseason. The three will need to snap out of their slumps to make a deep run into March Madness.
Upset Alert!
Although some 7-10 upsets might happen, this looks like a conference that will send all of its highest seeds to the later stages of March Madness. Yet the run and gun offense of UAB might see out a strictly-defensive Houston. Although Houston is the better team, UAB just needs to overwhelm the Cougars for 40 minutes until the final buzzer rings. Loyola-Chicago always seems to come out with an upset, but against Ohio State, they might run out of luck and magic from prior Cinderella runs. Even if the Ramblers beat the Buckeyes, a tough matchup against (likely) Villanova awaits them.
What Possible Matchup is Interesting?
Tennessee playing against Arizona in an East vs. West matchup will be pretty fun to watch. Not only because Tennesee could offer a counter to the Wildcats’ high-octane offense and could show whether the Vols have a bright future ahead, but because it would be a great game of basketball. The Pac-12 conference winner and the SEC conference winner butting heads in a shootout filled with style, three-point shots, and versatility all over would be breathtaking.
Which Player Will Dominate?
Benedict Mathurin is one of the most lethal attackers in college basketball and adds a defensive presence to the Wildcats. He could lead Arizona into the Final Four as Kerr Kriisa recovers from a sprained ankle. Count on Mathurin to supply the points Arizona desperately needs going into March Madness.
Which System is Tough to Prepare For?
A gritty, defensive Tennessee team that ranked third in adjusted defensive efficiency will be a nightmare to face. Hardened by the best teams in the nations, the Volunteers know how to frustrate offenses and get their way, as evidenced in the SEC Tournament. The Wildcats’ explosive, up-tempo offense will confuse defenses and give them a gateway to the Final Four. The duo is tough to compete with, and if they meet in the Elite Eight, it will be a game to remember.