The first weekend of the NCAA tournament provided dominating performances and upsets. The South Region was no exception, giving us plenty to look forward to this weekend. Let’s take a look at the must-see games and players to watch.
NCAA Tournament: South Region Second Weekend
The first weekend was full of dominating blowouts courtesy of one-seeds, upsets from mid-major schools, and dazzling individual performances. The South Region is the portion of the bracket that remains up in the air. The Virginia Cavaliers look like the most likely one-seed to fail to make the Final Four, while the Oregon Ducks are looking to continue their Cinderella run.
Games to Watch
To kick off the Sweet Sixteen in the South, three seeded Purdue goes head to head with second seed Tennessee. Then, Oregon continues its underdog tour as they battle number one seed, Virginia. While Purdue and Tennessee could prove to be a hard fought battle between more equally matched teams, it’s safe to say that eyes will be watching the Cavaliers face the Ducks.
After a brief scare in the first round, Virginia fended off their 16 seed opponent onwards to an eventual Sweet Sixteen appearance. On the other side, it has been Oregon’s defense that has carried them this far in the tournament. We will see if the Cavaliers can exploit a weakness in the Duck’s defensive play to reach the Elite Eight.
Tennessee is regarded as one of the stronger two seeds, and some believed they warranted a first seed ranking this tournament. The Vols are two-point favorites, so we should be in for a close game regardless. No matter the outcomes of both games, it will set up a regional final matchup that one cannot miss.
Players to Watch
Admiral Schofield has been there in big moments for the Vols so far in this tournament. After voluntarily sitting himself out late against Iowa, he should be motivated for this Sweet Sixteen matchup against Purdue. On the opposing side, Carsen Edwards has stepped up for the Purdue Boilermakers. He went 12-21 from the field, including 9-16 from beyond the arc for 42 points in their win against Villanova. He’ll look to have a repeat big-time performance.
Kyle Guy has struggled for Virginia so far during this tournament. So far he’s been an unsightly 4-23 from the floor, including a disastrous 1-15 from three. Chances are he’ll rebound sooner rather than later, and that needs to happen against a strong Oregon Ducks defense.
One of the reasons the Ducks defense has been so great is because of Kenny Wooten. In their victory over UC Irvine, Wooten tallied seven blocks against the Anteaters. If Oregon wants any chance of tasting the Elite Eight and eventual Final Four, Wooten must continue his defensive tear.
Who will be Final Four Bound?
The Oregon Ducks are the lone remaining double-digit seed alive and for good reason this tournament. The top-tier teams have been impressive so far, and that seems likely to continue when the Ducks matchup against Virginia. After a brief scare in the first round that was mirror-like of last year’s historic upset, the Cavaliers should be extra motivated to defeat Oregon. Unfortunately, the Cinderella run could end on Thursday.
Purdue and Tennessee could come down to the wire, and Carsen Edwards has been exceptional so far this tournament. But the Vols are more well-rounded and are among the strongest two seeds to win the South Region. Tennessee should come out on top against the Boilermakers.
We should see a one versus two seed matchup in the Elite Eight, only in this battle the rankings don’t matter. The Vols had a legitimate case of being the top seed in the region, and Virginia is regarded as the least strong of the top seeds in the tournament. We may very well see the one seeds from the other regions advance to the Final Four, but the South may be the lone exception.
KNOXVILLE, TN – DECEMBER 22: Tennessee Volunteers guard Jordan Bowden (23) and guard Admiral Schofield (5) and forward Grant Williams (2) walk onto the court during a college basketball game between the Tennessee Volunteers and Wake Forest Demon Deacons on December 22, 2018, at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, TN. (Photo by Bryan Lynn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)