Kansas earned the second No. 1 seed, getting slotted in the South Region. The Jayhawks, who won a share of the Big 12 regular season title and blew out Kansas State in the Big 12 tournament final, gets Western Kentucky in the opening round.
But that’s not the interesting matchup.
If the Jayhawks win, they have a potential matchup with North Carolina — the No. 8 seed — and old coach Roy Williams in the round of 32 if the Tar Heels can get by Villanova. Oh, and we also get
Georgetown earned the No. 2 seed in the south, earning an opening round matchup with a Florida-Gulf Coast team that owns a win over Miami this season. A win, and the Hoyas will get the winner of San Diego State and Oklahoma. Florida earned a No. 3 seed in the South despite losing to Ole Miss in the SEC title game this afternoon.
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Michigan earned the No. 4 seed, getting the honor of taking on South Dakota State in the first round, giving us a delightful matchup of Trey Burke and Nate Wolters, arguably the two best point guards in the country. The Jackrabbits might be able to pull off that upset, but don’t bet on the No. 12 seed winning in the south; Akron lost their starting point guard and will get an opening round matchup with VCU’s Havoc. Nightmare.
The most interesting matchup in the opening round of the South Region? No. 6 UCLA and No. 11 Minnesota. Not only did the Bruins lose Jordan Adams, but they don’t have much size and struggle with athletic teams. The Gophers dominate the offensive glass and have as much athleticism as anyone in the country. Which Minnesota team shows up? The one that beat Indiana or the one that lost 11 of their last 16 games?
The 6-foot-3 guard averaged 10.3 points per game, while shooting 42 percent from three, as a freshman. He, along with Malcolm Hill and Michael Thorne Jr., is one of three returning players who averaged double figures last season.
This could prove to be a make-or-break year for John Groce, who enters his fifth season at the helm. He guided the Illini to an NCAA Tournament in his first season, but hasn’t been back since.
The key for the Illini is health. Abrams gives them experience and leadership, but it won’t be a surprise if there’s some rust in his game after spending the past two seasons on the sideline. Having a healthy Coleman-Lands will help stabilize the backcourt, while Hill, an all-conference caliber forward, and Thorne anchor the frontcourt.
Like Alkins, Jones was a sought-after scorer. The 6-foot-4 two-guard was rated No. 69 overall in the Class of 2016 by Rivals. He picked Indiana over offers from Cal, Cincinnati, Georgetown and more than a dozen other high-major programs.
Jeter, the 6-foot-10, played in a reserve role as a freshman, averaging 1.9 points and 1.9 rebounds per game last season. He will be part of a loaded frontline that includes heralded freshmen Harry Giles and Marques Bolden, as well as redshirt senior Amile Jefferson, who returns to the lineup following a foot injury.
The greatest player in Auburn program history will honored with a statue outside of the team’s home arena.
The university announced that Charles Barkley, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer, will be the fourth athlete to be given a statue, joining Heisman Trophy winners Bo Jackson, Pat Sullivan and Cam Newton.
“It just means a great deal to me,” Barkley said in a statement. “Being a kid from Alabama, going to Auburn. I think everybody knows what Auburn means to me. It’s going to be pretty cool.”
Barkley, currently working as an analyst for TNT, was the SEC Player of the Year in 1984, as well as a second team All-American. He averaged 14.1 points and 9.6 rebounds per game in 84 appearances for the Tigers.