Maybe it’s not the region you wanted, but it’s the region you got. It’s also being in a bracket period after a rough start and a rough 2020.
But who exactly is in this region?
The NCAA is trying to straddle the line of making things feel normal by still calling the four regions by a geographic area even though all of the games are going to be played in Indiana. I guess it would be awkward to call a region by the number one seed if that seed gets knocked out, and for goodness sake let’s not honor the great history of college basketball by using some sort of historic name in an abnormal year.
So Carolina is in the South Region. Should they advance to the Final Four, they’ll only see three of these teams but since it could literally be any three, you need to know who’s there. Thus, here’s a little peek at all 16 teams in the South Region. A much more comprehensive breakdown will come once the Tar Heels are set to face a team.
#1 Baylor Bears
Head Coach: Scott Drew
Leading Scorer: Jared Butler, 17.1 PPG
Leading Rebounder: Mark Vital, 6.8 RPG
Leading Three-Point Shooter: Davion Mitchell, 46.2%
Key Stats: The Bears have eight players averaging over 14 minutes a game, five over 20, and just two over 30. They also have three of those regulars shooting over 40% from three. They are scoring an eye popping 84.4 points per game, including 41.8% overall from three. They are a wagon, and deserved the number 2 overall seed.
#2 Ohio State Buckeyes
Head Coach: Chris Holtmann
Leading Scorer: E.J. Liddell, 16.0 PPG
Leading Rebounder: E.J. Liddell, 6.4 RPG
Leading Three-Point Shooter: Justin Ahrens, 43.0% (52-121, Kyle Young is shooting 43.3% but only on 13-30)
Key Stats: Lost four in a row prior to the B1G Tournament where they made it all the way to the title game. They take care of the ball with only 10.6 turnovers a game, but have a weak assist/to ration of just 1.2. They work you by having Liddell and Duane Washington, Jr score and then wear you down. Don’t let their stumble down the stretch fool you, they showed in the B1G tournament that they’ll be a tough out.
#3 Arkansas Razorbacks
Head Coach: Eric Musselman
Leading Scorer: Moses Moody, 17.4 PPG
Leading Rebounder: Justin Smith, 6.9 RPG
Leading 3 Point Shooter: Moses Moody, 37.9 %
Key Stats: Another high scoring team at 82.4 a game, but it’s remarkable they’ve achieved what they have as they are only shooting 33.9% from three on the year, and 45.5% overall. They do a lot of their work at the stripe, making 15.6 free throws a game, and they also do it with volume. Ohio State averaged their points on a total of 1597 attempts, whereas the Razorbacks have attempted 1814. Basically, about 10 shots per game more. They’ll have to hope they don’t run into a hot shooting guard in order to advance.
#4 Purdue Boilermakers
Head Coach: Matt Painter
Leading Scorer: Trevion Williams, 15.6 PPG
Leading Rebounder: Trevion Williams, 9.9 RPG
Leading Three-Point Shooter: Sasha Stefanovic, 41.7%
Key Stats: The Boilermakers go nine deep in terms of players who play more than 14 minutes per game, and only two, Eric Hunter, Jr and Stefanovic, brush 30 minutes per game. Trevion Williams is ridiculously efficient, hitting on 52% of his shots and grabbing 3.5 offensive rebounds a game. They will grind you down, but only have an average margin of 4.8 points meaning they play close games. That experience could help them in this type of year, and they are literally playing in their home state.
#5 Villanova Wildcats
Head Coach: Jay Wright
Leading Scorer: Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, 15.7 PPG
Leading Rebounder: Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, 8.3 RPG
Leading Three-Point Shooter: Jermaine Samuels, 40.3% (Brandon Slater is at 45.5% but only on 10-22 shooting)
Key Stats: Our first team that has seen a real Covid effect, the Wildcats only have 22 games on their stat sheet this season thanks to a pause at the turn of 2021. That pause showed up in the scattershot way that Villanova played, with only 45% shooting and 35% from three, and they come into the tournament losers of three of their last four. If you’re looking for a 5/12 upset...
#6 Texas Tech
Head Coach: Chris Beard
Leading Scorer: Mac McClung, 15.7 PPG
Leading Rebounders: Marcus Santos-Silver, 6.5 RPG & Kevin McCullar, 6.1 RPG
Leading Three-Point Shooter: Kyler Edwards, 41.5%
Key Stats: The Red Raiders are the defending runners up after forcing Virginia into overtime before running out of gas. Now they have four players averaging double digits in points per game, and a fifth hitting at over 50% of his shots per game. They are balanced, and swept Texas for their crowning achievement of the season. They played Baylor in both matchups, and will be a tough out whenever they do lose.
#7 Florida Gators
Head Coach: Mike White
Leading Scorer: Tre Mann, 16.0 PPG
Leading Rebounders: Colin Castleton, 5.9 RPG & Tre Mann, 5.7 RPG
Leading Three-Point Shooter: Noah Locke, 40.6%
Key Stats: Florida had three instances where Covid messed up their schedule: the beginning of the season where they weren’t able to play in “Bubbleville,” and then the second half of December, and then finally the beginning of February where they missed another three games. If someone were to argue that the eight and seven should have been swapped, that would be exhibit A. That said, they don’t have a “Marquette” style loss on the resume, so even though they had a 14-9 record versus Carolina’s 18-10, the strength of the SEC versus the ACC and the lack of that bad loss ultimately became the deciding factor.
#8 North Carolina Tar Heels
Head Coach: Roy Williams
Leading Scorer: Armando Bacot, 12.3 PPG
Leading Rebounders: Armando Bacot, 8.0 RPG & Day’Ron Sharpe, 7.7 RPG
Leading Three-Point Shooter: Kerwin Walton, 41.5 %
Key Stats: If you’re a fan of the site, you pretty much know all there is to know about the team, but perhaps the thing to keep an eye on is the fact that outside of Bacot, only Caleb Love at 10.5/game and Garrison Brooks at 10.1/Game managed to average double digits in scoring. Caleb Love is also second on the team in three-point attempts, with 123 to Walton’s 135. Love, though, is only shooting 26% on the year. That’s clearly going to need to change for the Heels to make any noise.
#9 Wisconsin Badgers
Head Coach: Greg Gard
Leading Scorer: D’Mitrik Trice, 13.8 PPG
Leading Rebounder: Micha Potter, 6.0 RPG
Leading Three-Point Shooters: D’Mitrik Trice, 38.2%, Brad Davison, 37.3%, & Aleem Ford, 35.0%
Key Stats: You have to point out all three of those shooters for the Badgers because all three have over 120 attempts from beyond the arc this season and are a threat to shoot. Nothing much has changed about their style, as they average only 69.7 points a game, have played within 4.9 points of their opponents, and only cracked 90 once, against Arkansas Pine-Bluff. Still, with three guys confident enough to hit more than a third of their threes, Carolina’s defenders will be tested.
#10 Virginia Tech Hokies
Head Coach: Mike Young
Leading Scorer: Keve Aluma, 15.6 PPG
Leading Rebounder: Keve Aluma, 8.0 RPG
Leading Three-Point Shooter: Nahiem Alleyne, 40.9%
Key Stats: Only played two of their last seven scheduled games, and it showed in how they were worn out by the end of their Quarterfinal game against the Tar Heels. Thanks to their winning percentage they managed to sneak into the third seed, but this seed shows how little regard the committee gave to that actual schedule. They have a chance to make some noise right away, by playing a Florida team that had a similar fit and spurt type of season, and then a win brings an Ohio State team that was scuffling big time before their tournament.
#11 Utah State Aggies
Head Coach: Craig Smith
Leading Scorer: Neemias Queta, 15.1 PPG
Leading Rebounder: Neemias Queta, 10.0 RPG
Leading Three-Point Shooter: Brock Miller, 36.9%
Key Stats: Lost in the Mountain West Finals to San Diego State, but narrowly missed having to play for their right to continue on, instead getting the eleventh seed. They don’t shoot particularly well, but they rebound at a 40.8/game clip, obvious led by their team MVP Queta. The 7-0 Center will be a force to handle, but don’t overlook his front court mate, Justin Bean. He just trails Queta with 11.3/game, and 7.7 rebounds himself. It’s one of the few teams that has a front court focus that could give guard-heavy teams problems.
#12 Winthrop Eagles
Head Coach: Pat Kelsey
Leading Scorer: Chandler Vaudrin, 12.2 PPG
Leading Rebounder: Chandler Vaudrin, 7.2 RPG
Leading Three-Point Shooters: Josh Corbin, 42.% (47-111) & Charles Falden, 36.9% (38-103)
Key Stats: The Eagles have four players averaging double figures per game, and eleven players that go over 10 minutes a game on the floor. The offense clearly runs through Vaudrin, as he averages 31.5 minutes/game, but after that only two play at a 20 minute/game pace, meaning the other eight come at you in waves. Look for them to use the same strategy against the Wildcats and see if they can wear them down
#13 North Texas Mean Green
Head Coach: Grant McCasland
Leading Scorer: Javion Hamlet, 15.0 PPG
Leading Rebounders: Zachary Simmons, 6.2 RPG & Thomas Bell, 5.8 RPG
Leading Three-Point Shooters: James Reese, 35.5% (54-152) & Mardrez McBridge, 39.8% (41-103)
Key Stats: They had to pull the four wins in four days in order to take down the C-USA title, and they had to win ugly to do it, winning their semifinal game 54-48. They will be familiar with the format of the NCAA Tournament, though, as C-USA employed the “series” set up for their conference, having teams play two games over a weekend and then having a long off period. That familiarity might help going into Indiana, but chances are their game against Purdue will not be pleasing.
#14 Colgate Raiders
Head Coach: Matt Langel
Leading Scorer: Jordan Burns, 17.0 PPG
Leading Rebounders: Keegan Records, 6.9 RPG & Tucker Richardson, 5.9 RPG
Leading Three-Point Shooters: Jack Ferguson, 50.7% (35-69), & Jordan Burns, 41.5% (27-65)
Key Stats: Yeah, we all know their deal by now. The ridiculously high NET despite a very not-imposing schedule. That said, they followed through and won their tournament to show their numbers weren’t a fluke. Their game against Arkansas should be a lot of fun, as the Raiders have two other shooters who like to try their luck from beyond the arc. If they hit at their normal rate, 40%, the Razorbacks will need to look out.
#15 Oral Roberts Golden Eagles
Head Coach: Paul Mills
Leading Scorer: Max Abmas, 24.2 PPG
Leading Rebounder: Kevin Obanor, 9.5 RPG
Leading Three-Point Shooter: Max Abmas, 43.3%
Key Stats: For a team at this seed level, it’s not surprising to see that they have one dominant guard, the 6-1 Abmas. Whereas other teams have a decent spread of three-point shooters, Abmas is the faraway leader, and the scary thing is that he’s shooting that 43.3% on TWO HUNDRED attempts. He’s going to be at the top, middle, and bottom of your scouting report, and he’ll be the name you’ll know if ORU can pull the shocker.
#16 Hartford Hawks
Head Coach: John Gallagher
Leading Scorer: Austin Williams, 13.7 PPG
Leading Rebounder: Austin Williams, 6.2 RPG
Leading Three-Point Shooter: Traci Carter, 37.9% (39-103), & D.J. Mitchell, 43.3% (42-97)
Key Stats: The Hawks rebound the ball pretty evenly as a team, as while Williams has the 6.2 but three others are over five per game. Four players are averaging over ten points a game, and they also had to win four games in four days in order to get their automatic bid. A win by them over Baylor would be UMBC level, but hey, it’s March 2021, who knows?