Hank Noah, 23Sports

The NCAA regular season lasts roughly five months. It starts in November, when teams typically begin the season playing smaller schools and destroying them. This builds the confidence of everyone but the little guys. In the months ahead, an infinite number of scenarios can occur. Teams could gel, players could get in their groove, teams could play better than they should, teams could fall apart, coaches are fired, conference games could shake the league. However, if a team is lucky enough to hear their name called when the NCAA tournament participants are announced, none of the regular season trouble means anything.

The NCAA tournament is highly unpredictable, but one thing is for certain: Only one team out of the sixty-four will come out on top. Will it be a team from the South region? Let’s dive into each team’s chances for this year.

We know this for sure: The South region has a one-in-four chance of a team winning it all. Sixteen teams will enter, but only one team will leave the Southern region and enter the Final Four. We’ll start off with the sixteenth-seed UMBC Retrievers versus one-seed Virginia.

Let’s be honest here, the Retrievers have a snowball’s chance in hell to pick up a win against a one seed. Since the NCAA tournament began, sixteen seeds have had 132 chances to beat a one seed, yet it has never happened. However, nothing is impossible. Could UMBC become the first sixteen seed ever to win a game in the round of sixty-four? I doubt it, but what do I know? Virginia will walk past the Retrievers, but their toughest test will come when they face either Kentucky or Arizona in the sweet sixteen. This is where Virginia will most likely fall.

The fifteenth seed in the South region is the Georgia State Panthers. The Panthers are matched up against a tough two seed in the Cincinnati Bearcats, but they have a lot of momentum under head coach Ron Hunter. Hunter recently spoke on how the Bearcats are in a nicer hotel, eat at nicer places, and have nicer amenities than the Panthers. If the underdog mentality is not enough to motivate the Panther’s players, hopefully the fact that they are coming off a conference championship will. Georgia State has a chance to upset Cincy and become one of the few fifteenth seeds to ever beat a two seed. The Panthers have a small chance to beat Cincinnati, but I do not believe they will make it past the second round if they win. Cincinnati will most likely move on to the Elite Eight where they will face a tough Arizona team. This is where I predict they will fall.

The fourteenth seed Wright State Raiders are coming off a Horizon League championship and are matched up against the third seed Tennessee Volunteers. The Raiders have a tough third seed to match up against as Tennessee, and they have not been to the tournament against 2007. The Raiders do have a relatively balanced scoring effort, but they do not have anyone who can really go off. The Volunteers have won six of their last seven going into the tournament, Wright State will have a tough time winning this game. Tennessee will most face either Loyola-Chicago or Miami in the second round, and I believe they will pick up the win here. The trouble will come when the face off against Cincy in the Sweet Sixteen, where I predict the will take the loss.

The Buffalo Bulls, who are the thirteenth seed in the South region, will not win. Unfortunately for the Bulls, they are facing off against the Arizona Wildcats who have Deandre Ayton, Allonzo Trier, and simply an all-around better team. Arizona has a legitimate chance to win it all this year, and they will leave Buffalo in the dust. Sorry Bulls fans.

Twelfth-seeded Davidson is set to face a tough but young fifth-seed Kentucky team, and many believe that they have a chance to upset. However, when Kentucky is on, they are on. Kentucky is headed into the tournament after winning the SEC, and they have a lot of momentum. If Kentucky is playing well, Davidson will not be able to handle them. If Davidson does end up beating Kentucky, they will most likely face off against Arizona in the second round, and Davidson will be even more likely to lose then. Kentucky will most likely see the same fate if they beat Davidson, but Kentucky has a better chance to beat Arizona. If they do this, they could beat Virginia in the Sweet Sixteen as well and make it all the way to the Elite Eight. Kentucky has a tough road, but they could reach the Final Four this year if all goes well.

The Loyola-Chicago Ramblers, an eleventh seed in the South region, have a legit chance to take down sixth-seed Miami. The Ramblers have five players averaging double figures and went 28-5 on the season. Loyola has also won ten games in a row. Eleventh seeds are also 6-2 against six seeds in the past two tournaments, so Loyola has luck, stats, and momentum on their side. This could be a rough one for Miami. If the Ramblers win, they will most likely be facing off against the third-seed Tennessee Volunteers. Loyola’s luck will most likely run out if they find themselves matched up against the Vols. Miami could pick it up a couple of wins if they aren’t bounced out in the first round. They would most likely face off against the Vols in their second game, which they could win, and then Cincinnati in the Sweet Sixteen, where they could sneak in another win. However, I believe Miami’s ceiling is the Elite Eight.

The tenth-seeded Texas Longhorns have a chance to go places. However, they need Mo Bamba to play well. He has the chance to disrupt seven-seed Nevada’s defense with his size and strength, but he needs to be selfless when they double him. Texas will need to defend the three-pointer as Nevada can knock it down from deep, and if they can package these together and take care of the ball, the Longhorns have a solid chance to win. If they win, they will most likely face off against a tough Cincinnati team, where they will most likely fall. However, if they pick up the win in the second round, Texas has a chance to make it to the Elite Eight. Nevada has a chance to make it places in the tournament as well. They are seeded seventh and could make it as far as the Elite Eight if they make it past Mo Bamba and Texas in the first round.

Kansas State, the ninth seed in the South region, are matched up against eight-seeded Creighton. This will be a close one as Creighton is a one-and-a-half-point favorite. I believe Kansas State will take the win, but whoever wins this game will most likely fall to Virginia in the seconds round.

No matter who wins in this year’s NCAA Tournament, it will be an exciting one. With all the teams circulating in the top twenty-five rankings this year, anyone has a chance to come out on top. We can look at stats and attempt to accurately predict all we want, but we can never be one hundred percent certain, and that is why it is called March Madness.