NCAA Tournament South Region Betting Primer (2021 March Madness)

Mar 14, 2022 - 7:39 PM

The South Region is loaded with talent. But honestly, we can say this about every region. The South Region includes top-seeded Arizona along with many other elite teams that can make a run at the title.

Arizona won the Pac-12 and will be the one-seed while Villanova, who won the Big East, will get the two slot. In the third spot, we’ve got the SEC champions in Tennessee and there’s also the AAC champions in Houston slated in the five-spot. There’s even Loyola Chicago, who won the MVC in the 10 slot.

On this side of the bracket, there are many teams who already won a tournament. That’s going to make things very interesting as this region plays out.

Here’s a detailed look at how the Midwest Region breaks down (odds courtesy BettingPros consensus):

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(1) Arizona Wildcats

Odds to make Final Four: +150

Strengths: Arizona is a complete team that is shooting an effective field goal percentage of 55.9% while holding teams to an effective field goal percentage of 44.4%. The Wildcats dominate the glass on the offensive end, score at will inside the paint, and disrupt anyone trying to score on them inside defensively.

Weaknesses: If anything, Arizona has only earned 17.7% turnovers on the season, which is a bit low for NCAA standards.

X-Factor: Kerr Krissa. Will the freshman come back healthy in time for a massive tournament run? Krissa is one of the best passers in America and completes this team. He gets everyone open and just has a passion about him that will be missed until he gets back.

Prediction: NCAA Champions

(2) Villanova

Odds to make Final Four: +300

Strengths: If the game is on the line, Villanova will be pretty much set, as the Wildcats are shooting 82.3% from the foul line this season. That’s the best rate in college basketball and also one of the best rates ever for a program in a season.

Weaknesses: The Wildcats are a terrific defense, but the bigs don’t really disrupt like other Villanova teams. The Wildcats only earn 7.2% blocks, which is a below-average rate. But if that’s the worst thing about your team, things are looking bright.

X-Factor: Collin Gillespie. He’s the heart and soul of this team. Gillespie didn’t get a chance to compete in the tournament last year due to injury. He came back for one last season and just helped Villanova win the Big East with two clutch three-pointers with the game on the line.

Prediction: Round of 32

(3) Tennessee Volunteers

Odds to make Final Four: +330

Strengths: The Tennessee Volunteers just won the SEC Championship. This team is capable of going to a neutral site and winning the whole thing. Tennessee’s defense is one of the best in the nation, as they’ve been able to force nearly 23% of turnovers. The defense has been terrific.

Weaknesses: Tennessee isn’t shooting at a high percentage from inside the paint. If Tennessee is dealt Arizona, for example, the Vols would need to really shoot it well from deep, because inside it would be a struggle. The Vols shoot just 47.9% from inside the arc. That’s not going to cut it in this tournament.

X-Factor: Kennedy Chandler. Chandler gets the most possessions on the team offensively. He’s also one of the best passers in America and can steal a ton of balls on the defensive end. Tennessee goes as Chandler goes. He sets the tone. Watch out for Kennedy!

Prediction: Round of 32

(4) Illinois Fighting Illini

Odds to win Final Four: +1200

Strengths: Illinois is as balanced as a team will get in the NCAA Tournament. Illinois can shoot from deep, score inside, dominate the glass, and hold teams to a low shooting percentage of 32.3% from deep and 45.4% from inside the arc. It was an underwhelming season for Illinois, but ultimately, with a dominating performance in the Tournament, all of that will be forgotten.

Weaknesses: The Fighting Illini only earn 15.6% turnovers per game. At least Illinois will dominate the glass, but ultimately, if Illinois faces a hot-shooting team, the limited turnovers could eventually bite them.

X-Factor: Kofi Cockburn. Cockburn does everything at an elite level for Illinois and the biggest thing is, the big man has been staying out of foul trouble throughout most of the season. Cockburn is a dominant rebounder, gets to the line at a high rate, and is used on most possessions for Illinois. He just needs to continue to stay on the floor!

Prediction: Round of 32

(5) Houston Cougars

Odds to make Final Four: +500

Strengths: Houston is a top 11 team in offensive and defensive efficiency via KenPom. This is without Tramon Mark and Marcus Sasser, who were both injured during the regular season. Houston has been elite on both sides of the ball this year and just won the AAC Championship when many counted the Cougars out.

Weaknesses: Houston’s aggressive on the defensive end is sometimes a little too aggressive, fouling at a very high rate this season. Then, on the other hand, Houston struggles at the line offensively, shooting just 66.9%. If they can play a game without foul shooting, Houston would be hard to beat.

X-Factor: Fabian White. There are many guys that have stepped up with the absence of Mark and Sasser, but White is the guy who does the most. He’s dominant on the offensive glass and really limits turnovers while earning a whole bunch on his own from steals and blocked shots.

Prediction: Sweet 16

(6) Colorado State Rams

Odds to make Final Four: +6000

Strengths: The Colorado State Rams are one of the best shooting teams in the country, hitting 35.7% from deep and 56.3% from inside the arc. On the defensive end, the Rams make teams work, with opponents using 18.9 seconds per possession this season.

Weaknesses: The Rams won’t get many second chances, as they earn just 21.8% offensive rebounds this season. On the defensive end, Colorado State is also allowing 50.5% inside the arc.

X-Factor: David Roddy. Roddy is one of the best players in college basketball. He’s a guy not many know about, but you will after the tournament. Roddy is shooting at one of the highest percentages in basketball and also dominates the glass while getting to the foul line at a rapid pace. Roddy is one of the elite players in the game.

Prediction: First Round

(7) Ohio State Buckeyes 

Odds to make Final Four: +3500

Strengths: The Ohio State Buckeyes have been dominant on the offensive end throughout the entire season. Ohio State is shooting 37.3% from deep and 54% from inside the arc. Even at the foul line, things are going smoothly, shooting 76% from the field.

Weaknesses: Defense hasn’t been a plus this season. Ohio State is only earning 15.3% of turnovers and allows teams to shoot 34% from deep.

X-Factor: E.J. Liddell. Liddell is one of my top 10 players in the NCAA Tournament this season. Liddell is shooting 37.6% from downtown and really developed his game from last season. He’s getting to the line at a solid pace and also hitting 76.7% of foul shots. On the glass, he’s been extremely effective and also can block a whole bunch of shots.

Prediction: First Round

(8) Seton Hall Pirates

Odds to make Final Four: (+6500)

Strengths: Seton Hall has limited teams to a 45.4% effective field goal percentage, with opponents shooting just 31% from deep and 44.8% from inside the arc this season.

Weaknesses: Can Seton Hall score enough points? The Pirates are shooting just 33.3% from deep and 46.2% from inside the arc while getting blocked 11% of the time. Hard to have success in this tournament playing like that.

X-Factor: Kadary Richmond. Seton Hall has had so many guys out of the lineup due to injuries and illnesses. Richmond was one of them. If he’s back and healthy, Seton Hall will have a guy who can really pass it and get everyone involved. That will be crucial.

Prediction: First Round

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(9) TCU Horned Frogs

Odds to make Final Four: +6500

Strengths: TCU’s defense has been close to elite this season. It’s not one thing that TCU does. It’s a collective thing, with TCU holding teams to a 47.7% effective field goal percentage while also holding teams to a 26.1% offensive rebounding percentage. Plus, on the offensive end, TCU is earning 37.9% offensive rebounds, which is second in the nation.

Weaknesses: Shooting. TCU is hitting just 30.4% from deep and 66.8% from the foul line. The Horned Frogs also turn the ball over 21.6% of the time. They’ve got flaws on the offensive end.

X-Factor: Mike Miles. Are we sure Mike Miles is healthy? He got injured during the Big 12 Tournament but either way, he’s the best player on TCU. He’s getting to the foul line consistently and continues to be a tremendous passer while taking most of TCU’s shots. TCU is going to need them on the floor.

Prediction: Round of 32

(10) Loyola Chicago Ramblers

Odds to make Final Four: +3000

Strengths: Loyola Chicago is taking some really high-quality shots this season. The Ramblers are shooting an effective field goal percentage of 56.3% while shooting 38% from deep and 55.8% from inside the arc. Anytime Loyola Chicago gets hot shooting, watch out!

Weaknesses: If Loyola Chicago isn’t shooting well, second chances will be hard to come by as the Ramblers only grab 25.1% of offensive rebounds.

X-Factor: Lucas Williamson. Williamson is the one guy Loyola Chicago relies on the most. He’s an aggressive guard that is hitting over 39% from the three-point range this season. Williamson is also getting to the line at a high rate and has an effective field goal percentage of 56.2%.

Prediction: Sweet 16

(11) Michigan Wolverines

Odds to make Final Four: +3000

Strengths: Some won’t agree that Michigan should be in the NCAA Tournament. But since they are, we can talk about how great the offense is. Michigan shoots 53% from inside the arc, limits turnovers at a high rate, and grabs 31.2% of offensive rebounds. Don’t sleep on the Wolverines.

Weaknesses: Michigan only earns 15% turnovers and struggles to defend inside, giving up 50.8% of two-point shots this season.

X-Factor: Hunter Dickinson. Dickinson is the do-it-all big for the Wolverines. Dickinson is shooting 60.6% from inside the arc and also 31.6% from outside. He’s able to block shots, dominate the glass, and is used on most possessions for the Wolverines.

Prediction: Sweet 16

(12) UAB Blazers

Odds to make Final Four: +10000

Strengths: The Blazers are shooting 38.4% from three, but don’t take a whole lot of shots from there. This team is patient and takes three-point shots when they’re open. That’s allowed them to hit triples at a really high rate.

Weaknesses: You won’t find a large number of assists on this team. It’s more iso than anything. UAB is earning just 44.6% of assists on field goals made this season.

X-Factor: Jordan Walker. Walker is shooting 41.1% from deep while also hitting 88.3% from the foul line. He’s taking a ton of shots, is very aggressive, and is good enough to put on a show in the NCAA Tournament.

Prediction: First Round

(13) Chattanooga Mocs

Odds to make Final Four: +15000

Strengths: Chattanooga is shooting 53.9% from inside the arc this season. Then, when the Mocs are fouled, they hit 76.6% from the foul line.

Weaknesses: However, Chattanooga doesn’t get to the foul line at a high rate and the Mocs have struggled to defend inside, allowing teams to shoot 52.1% from inside this season.

X-Factor: Malachi Smith. The Mocs have a bunch of x-factor type players, but Smith is the guy who has been most efficient. Smith is shooting 41.2% from deep and 83% on free throws while getting to the foul line at a high rate, to begin with.

Prediction: First Round

(14) Longwood Lancers

Odds to make Final Four: +20000

Strengths: The Lancers are hitting 38.6% from deep this season while also earning 34.1% offensive rebounds. The Lancers don’t miss three-pointers often, but when they do, Longwood gets second chances on the offensive glass.

Weaknesses: The Lancers have struggled to defend inside all season, giving up a 53.7% shooting percentage inside the arc this season. The defense isn’t all that great and could hurt Longwood early in the NCAA Tournament.

X-Factor: Justin Hill. The sophomore guard is a terrific passer and is consistent at the foul line while getting to the charity stripe at a high rate. He’s a fun player to watch, but don’t expect this team to make an upset bid.

Prediction: First Round

(15) Delaware Blue Hens

Odds to make Final Four: +25000

Strengths: Delaware is shooting 54.2% from inside this season while also hitting 35% from deep and 74.2% from inside the arc. Delaware was dealt Villanova in its first game, so good luck. But ultimately, the offense can stick around with anyone.

Weaknesses: Delaware is allowing 31.2% offensive rebounds this season while giving up nearly 35% from deep this season. Those two areas aren’t going to help Delaware pull off a massive upset.

X-Factor: Jameer Nelson. Do you recognize the name? Jameer Nelson’s son will take center stage and while he doesn’t fill the box score, he does play a high percentage of minutes. He’s a sneaky stealer and hits 78% at the line to close games out.

Prediction: First Round

(16) Bryant Bulldogs or Wright State Raiders

Odds to make Final Four: +25000

Strengths: Both Bryant and Wright State like to move their offenses at a high pace. Wright State and Bryant both dominate inside the arc but struggle from deep.

Weaknesses: Bryant doesn’t force turnovers or have success on the defensive glass all the time. Meanwhile, Wright State has also struggled on the offensive glass.

X-Factor: Peter Kiss. If Bryant wins the first play-in game against Wright State, the Bulldogs would be in the NCAA Tournament with the nation’s leading scorer. Kiss is a bit animated and goes crazy, but that adds to the excitement of watching Peter Kiss.

Prediction: First Round

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Jason Radowitz is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Mike, check out his archive and follow him @Jason_Radowitz.

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