August 11, 2022

Here’s a look at the South Region of the NCAA Tournament as March Madness 2022 gets set to tip off with the First Four Tuesday:

No. 1 Arizona (31-3) 

Conference: Pac-12 

Coach: Tommy Lloyd 

Post-ing up: The Wildcats, who were picked in the preseason to finish fourth in the conference, have surprised in their first year under Lloyd. The longtime Gonzaga assistant has presided over a ball-movement-heavy offense that has been the country’s best in assists. Kerr Kriisa orchestrates the attack, but went down with a sprained ankle in their Pac-12 Tournament title run.

Tommy Lloyd is in his first season coaching the Wildcats.
Getty Images

No. 16 Wright State (21-13) 

Conference: Horizon 

Coach: Scott Nagy 

Post-ing up: The three-headed monster of forward Grant Basile and guards Trey Calvin and Tanner Holden do the heavy lifting for the Horizon League champions who have never won a tournament game in three prior trips. The Raiders are used to winning, having produced at least 20 victories in six of the last seven seasons.

No. 16 Bryant (22-9) 

Conference: Northeast 

Coach: Jared Grasso 

Post-ing up: Bryant enters the NCAA Tournament for the first time, with 17 wins in 18 games, and nine of those victories by double digits. The backcourt duo of Peter Kiss and Charles Pride carry the Bulldogs offensively, averaging 43.1 points per game. The key to this team, though, might be forward Hall Elisias, an elite shot-blocker who swatted eight shots in the NEC title game.

No. 8 Seton Hall (21-10) 

Conference: Big East 

Coach: Kevin Willard 

See also  Boxing gym Rumble ordered to pay nearly $1M in back rent

Post-ing up: The Pirates were lacking consistency for most of the season due to injuries, but finished on a high with wins in eight of their last 10 games heading into the Big East Tournament. Long Island native and senior wing Jared Rhoden does it all with scoring (15.9) and rebounding (6.8), upping his game recently to fuel the team’s late push.

Jared Rhoden
Jared Rhoden
Charles Wenzelberg

No. 9 TCU (20-12) 

Conference: Big 12 

Coach: Jamie Dixon 

Post-ing up: Late wins over top-10 teams Texas Tech and Kansas boosted the Horned Frogs’ résumé and showed what they are capable of at their best, with sophomore guard Mike Miles (15.0 ppg) leading the way. Still, they are one of the worst 3-point shooting teams in the country, making just 30.4 percent from deep, ranking 322th nationally.

No. 5 Houston (29-5) 

Conference: AAC 

Coach: Kelvin Sampson 

Post-ing up: The Cougars, fresh off a Final Four appearance, looked poised for another deep run. But losing leading-scorer Marcus Sasser and sophomore guard Tramon Mark for the season due to injuries makes the task much harder. The pressure falls on forward Fabian White Jr., who scored 21.5 ppg in the final four regular-season games.

Fabian White Jr.
Fabian White Jr. holds the AAC Conference Tournament trophy.
LM Otero

No. 12 UAB (27-7) 

Conference: Conference USA 

Coach: Andy Kennedy 

Post-ing up: The Blazers won’t be fearful, having played West Virginia, South Carolina and San Francisco tight, and defeated New Mexico and Saint Louis. Port Washington, N.Y.’s Jordan Walker (nicknamed “Jelly”), one of the best mid-major guards in the country who averages 20.2 points and 4.9 assists per game, could be a March darling.

No. 4 Illinois (22-9) 

Conference: Big Ten 

Coach: Brad Underwood 

Post-ing up: Long Island Lutheran’s Andre Curbelo often looked like a star last year on a team that was a quickly-bounced one seed. But Curbelo, now a sophomore, has not been the same after suffering an early-season concussion. To make a deep run, the Illini will need him at full health next to their 7-foot, double-double machine, Kofi Cockburn.

See also  Brandon Ingram leads Pelicans to testy Game 4 win over Suns to even series
Kofi Cockburn
Kofi Cockburn

No. 13 Chattanooga 

Record: 27-7 

Conference: Southern 

Coach: Lamont Paris 

Post-ing up: The Mocs play at a very deliberate pace and execute well offensively, hence an attack that is ranked 61st in efficiency. Don’t take them lightly. The Southern Conference is known for producing dangerous teams. Remember, UNC Greensboro put a scare into fourth-seeded Florida State a year ago and Wofford won a game in the 2019 NCAA Tournament.

No. 6 Colorado State (25-5) 

Conference: Mountain West 

Coach: Niko Medved 

Post-ing up: The Rams were 5-2 against Quad 1 opponents this season, including non-conference wins over Creighton and Saint Mary’s. They are led by two junior guards: David Roddy, the MWC’s Player of the Year who shoots 45.5 percent from beyond the arc, and Isaiah Stevens, who is second on the team in scoring and leads in assists.

No. 11 Michigan (17-14) 

Conference: Big Ten 

Coach: Juwan Howard 

Post-ing up: It’s been a disappointing season for the Wolverines, who were an Elite Eight team last March but quickly fell out of the Top 25 this year before dealing with Howard being suspended for the final five games of the regular season. Their best weapon is still 7-foot-1 center Hunter Dickinson (18.3 ppg), and the offense runs through him.

No. 3 Tennessee (26-7) 

Conference: SEC 

Coach: Rick Barnes 

Post-ing up: The Volunteers pass, steal and handle the ball well, rarely beating themselves. They boast three legitimate point guards, including freshman star Kennedy Chandler — a potential first-rounder who leads the team in scoring, assists and steals — and junior Santiago Vescovi, whose jump shot just keeps getting better.

No. 14 Longwood (26-6) 

Conference: Big South 

Coach: Griff Aldrich 

Post-ing up: Aldrich, a former lawyer and AAU coach, inherited a seven-win team four years ago, and now has the Lancers in the NCAA Tournament for the first time, following the program’s first winning season in 13 years. Longwood, which has won eight straight games, is led by do-it-all point guard Justin Hill, its leader in scoring and assists.

See also  Larry Brown: Jalen Duren is a worthy NBA center prospect

No. 7 Ohio State (19-11) 

Conference: Big Ten 

Coach: Chris Holtmann 

Post-ing up: The Buckeyes have not been strong defensively and lost three of four to end the regular season. Yet, they have E.J. Liddell, so they always have a chance. The 6-foot-7 junior forward can shoot — particularly from deep — and get to the rim, a nightmare matchup. He doesn’t have much help, but freshman guard Malaki Branham has been a find.

 E.J. Liddell
E.J. Liddell

No. 10 Loyola Chicago (25-7) 

Conference: Missouri Valley 

Coach: Drew Valentine 

Post-ing up: The Ramblers lost their coach (Porter Moser) and top player (Cameron Krutwig) from last year. It didn’t matter. They still won the MVC, led by a defense ranked 22nd in the country in efficiency. Fifth-year senior guard Lucas Williamson, a freshman on the Cinderella 2018 Final Four team, took the mantle from Krutwig and ran with it.

No. 2 Villanova (26-7) 

Conference: Big East 

Coach: Jay Wright 

Post-ing up: Another well-coached team under Jay Wright, the Big East Tournament champs have been the country’s best at sinking free throws and are solid from beyond the arc. Fifth-year star guard Collin Gillespie, afforded an extra season because of the pandemic and having torn his MCL before last year’s tournament, wants to finish off his college career in style.

No. 15 Delaware (22-12) 

Conference: Colonial 

Coach: Martin Ingelsby 

Post-ing up: The Blue Hens, in just their second NCAA Tournament since 1999, are comfortable in close games, with 10 wins by single figures. Versatile sophomore guard Jameer Nelson Jr. — the son of former NBA player and St. Joseph’s star Jameer Nelson — does a little bit of everything. He is the team leader in scoring and steals and is second in assists.