The CBT Bracket Breakdown: South Region

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See the rest of our regional breakdowns here.

Final Four Favorite: No. 1 Kentucky: Kentucky is the best team in the country. That much is not exactly debatable. They are going to be the heavy favorite to win a national title, even with the loss to Vanderbilt in the SEC title game, and that’s not going to be wrong. It doesn’t hurt that the Wildcats have a very easy bracket. They aren’t going to lose in Louisville, where their first two games are played. I know Indiana has already beaten the Wildcats, but Anthony Davis was in foul trouble and Terrence Jones spent the game pouting. Duke or Baylor? Not buying it. I’ll get into Wichita State in a bit, but I just don’t see a team in this bracket that is capable of beating Kentucky.

And if they lose…?: No. 3 Baylor: I like Baylor more than Duke here. On paper, Baylor is one of the most talented teams in the country. The issue with the Bears is that they haven’t been able to play up to that potential this season. Well, on Friday night, they did. And they beat Kansas in the process. What was more impressive than the win, however, was the fact that Baylor didn’t fold when the Jayhawks put a run on them. Baylor was up by 13. Kansas went on an 18-3 run. Baylor answered, and ended up winning by nine. Do they have enough confidence to win these games now?

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Sweet 16 sleeper (9 or lower): No. 12 VCU: Who else was I going to pick? The Rams made the run to the Final Four last season out of the 11 seed. Why wouldn’t they be able to do it out of the 12 seed this year? VCU started off the season slowly after graduating four of their five starters from last season, but they’ve been as hot as any team in the country, winning 16 of their last 17 games and cruising to a win in the CAA Tournament. They still press, they still force turnovers and they still hit threes. HAVOC!!!

Final Four sleeper (5 or lower): No. 5 Wichita State: To be honest, I think that Wichita State is one of maybe two teams (Baylor) in this bracket that can knock off Kentucky. They have size, they defend, they have shooter and they have good guard play. They are a very, very good basketball team. The problem? I honestly would not be surprised if they lost in the opening round of the tournament. That’s what happens when you get VCU in the first round.

Player to watch (top 8 seeds): Royce White, Iowa State: If haven’t seen White play, be sure to tune in for the opening round game between the Cyclones and No. 9 UConn. He might be the most difficult matchup in the country. At 6’9″ and 270 lb, he’s actually ISU’s point guard. He leads the team in scoring, rebounding, assists, block and steals. You don’t come across that too often.

source: AP

Player to watch (bottom 8 seeds): Nate Wolters, South Dakota State: Wolters was put on a lot of top player lists at the start of the season, and people were critical of the decision. But the fact of the matter is that this kid can play. He’s a bigger point guard, about 6’4″, and while he’s not overly quick, he’s a crafty penetrator. His game is to get into the lane and kick the ball out of SDSU’s myriad of shooters.

Also keep an eye on CJ McCollum of Lehigh. He’s a kid with a future in the NBA. He ended up at Lehigh because he grew three inches once he committed to Lehigh. He’s a big time scorer with range, the kind of player that may be able to carry the Mountainhawks to win over Duke.

Best potential matchup: No. 1 Kentucky vs. No. 2 Duke: I think that Kentucky would win this game fairly easily, but the history behind this matchup is too much. 20 years ago this year, quite possibly the greatest game in the history of college basketball was played. Between Duke and Kentucky. For the right to go to the Final Four. Sportswriters will have a field day if this matchup happens.

So who is getting upset?:

– I can see Duke getting knocked off by Xavier in the third round if the Musketeers and the Blue Devils both advance. Duke struggles to defend on the perimeter, and Xavier has a pair of talented back court players.

– One game to keep an eye on would be UConn and Kentucky in the third round. UConn has the talent to be a Final Four contender and knock off the Wildcats. That UConn has been a rare sight this season.

– Lehigh over Duke in the opening round, especially if Ryan Kelly is still hurt, and South Dakota State over Baylor are two risky upset picks that could pay off.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

Report: North Carolina won’t attend White House

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After capturing a national championship earlier this year, the North Carolina men’s basketball team will not be visiting the White House, a North Carolina spokesman said to Andrew Carter of the The Charlotte Observer.

Although the Tar Heels were invited to go to the White House from the staff of President Donald Trump, the team couldn’t figure out a date that worked.

“We couldn’t find a date that worked for both parties,” North Carolina team spokesman Steve Kirschner said to Carter. “We tried about eight or nine dates and between they couldn’t work out that date, we couldn’t work out that date, so – we would have liked to have gone, but not going.”

According to Carter’s report, Kirschner also said that North Carolina players, “were fine with going.”

With Trump’s recent comments towards NFL players and the national anthem and his Saturday morning tweet at Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors, there has been a lot of controversy surrounding the President with regards to athletes over the past 24 hours.

Although the timing of this may seem like North Carolina is making some sort of political statement, the school is downplaying any sort of politics by focusing on the bad timing.

Xavier freshman forward Jared Ridder will transfer

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Xavier freshman forward Jared Ridder will transfer from the program to move closer to home, according to a release from the school.

The 6-foot-7 Ridder hails from Springfield, Missouri as he was regarded as a top-150 prospect by Rivals in the Class of 2017.

“After much consideration and talking with my family, I have decided that it is in my best interest to move home,” Ridder said in the release.

“Jared has indicated to the coaching staff that he has a desire to be closer to home,” Xavier head coach Chris Mack said. “While we are disappointed, we all want Jared to be happy moving forward. We wish him nothing but the best.”

A potent scorer and noted perimeter shooter at the high school level, Ridder helped MoKan win the Nike Peach Jam during the summer of 2016 playing alongside talented players like Missouri’s Michael and Jontay Porter and Oklahoma’s Trae Young. With a desire to move closer to home, could Ridder potentially land at a spot where one of his talented former teammates is playing?

Ridder averaged 24.2 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.8 assists during his senior season of high school ball at Kickapoo as he was a first-team, All-State selection in Missouri.

Four-star 2018 forward Ian Steere decommits from Creighton

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Creighton took a big hit to its recruiting efforts late this week as Class of 2018 forward Ian Steere is decommitting from the Bluejays, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com. Steere’s decommitment was first reported by Julius Kim of Elevate Hoops.

The 6-foot-8 Steere is considered a four-star prospect by Rivals as he is coming off of a very solid spring and summer playing with Team Charlotte in the Under Armour Association. A plus athlete who isn’t afraid to bang on the interior, Steere showing an improving skill level throughout the spring and summer as he could see his recruiting soar after opening things up.

According to a report from Jon Nyatawa of the World-Herald, one of the reasons that Steere is opening up his recruitment is his desire to be closer to his native North Carolina. With so many top programs looking for quality help on the interior, it’ll be interesting to see which programs jump in and try to recruit Steere the second time around.

John Wall emotional in Kentucky Hall of Fame induction speech

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John Wall was inducted into the University of Kentucky Athletics Hall of Fame on Friday night as he delivered an emotional speech while talking to his mother.

The first inductee into the Hall of Fame to play for current Wildcat head coach John Calipari, Wall only spent the 2009-10 season in Lexington but he became the first national player of the year to play at Kentucky before becoming the No. 1 pick in the 2010 NBA Draft.

Thanking his mother, Calipari, his family, friends and Big Blue Nation, the Washington Wizards guard gave a very moving speech, including an emotional part directed to his mother at around 4:35.

Ohio State snags third 2018 commitment in a week with four-star guard Luther Muhammad

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Ohio State continued a strong week on the recruiting trail on Friday night by landing a commitment from Class of 2018 guard Luther Muhammad.

Regarded as a four-star prospect, the 6-foot-4 Muhammad is a tough and rugged perimeter defender who can attack the basket. Also showing some ability to play on the ball as a secondary handler, Muhammad is a very solid addition to Ohio State’s recruiting class since they need to overhaul their roster under new head coach Chris Holtmann.

Muhammad is the third player to commit to the Buckeyes in the Class of 2018 this week as he joins four-star forward Jaedon LeDee and three-star guard Duane Washington in the current Ohio State recruiting class. Since Washington is a three-point threat and Muhammad is more of an off-the-bounce specialist, the two guards are a good start for Ohio State in this class as they will likely try to find a true floor leader to play with them on the perimeter.