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2018 NCAA Tournament Bracket Breakdown: Will Tony Bennett or Sean Miller end Final Four drought in the South Region

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Virginia landed the No. 1 overall seed in the South Region.

But did they also find themselves in the toughest region in the NCAA tournament?

Four of the seven power conference regular season champions are in the South, as is Kentucky, who won the SEC tournament title. Three of the four power conference teams that won both their regular season and tournament titles are in the South.

And that doesn’t count Atlantic 10 tournament champion Davidson.

If that wasn’t bad enough, if Kentucky manages to get through Davidson and Arizona and into the Sweet 16, you can be sure that the Wildcats are going to make Atlanta their home from March 22nd-25th.

Virginia is going to have to hope for that, because it’s probably a better option that playing Deandre Ayton in the Sweet 16.

Either way, if Tony Bennett is going to get to his first Final Four this season, he’s certainly going to earn it.


  1. So about Tony Bennett and the Final Four: He might truly be the best coach in all of college basketball. He has also never been to the Final Four. This will be the year for him to get it done, and finally get that monkey off of his back.
  2. What about Sean Miller’s monkey?: Sean Miller is right there in that conversation for best coach without a Final Four. This was supposed to be his year to get to there, what with Deandre Ayton joining a roster full of veterans. It hasn’t played out that way, and that was before the report that Miller was on a wiretap talking about paying for Ayton’s services.
  3. Does Kentucky’s run continue?: The Wildcats were terrific in the SEC tournament, and for the most part they were terrific down the stretch of the season. But Jarred Vanderbilt’s health is a concern, as is the consistency that this team plays with.

THE ELITE 8 MATCHUP IS … No. 1 Virginia vs. No. 2 Cincinnati

The rockfight to end all rockfights. If this matchup were to take place, college basketball as a sport would be ended. Virginia is the nation’s slowest-paced team and leads the country in KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency metric. Cincinnati is in the bottom-10th percentile in pace and leads the nation in defensive points-per-possession allowed. The over-under would be in the double-digits.

THE FINAL FOUR SLEEPER IS … the winner of No. 4 Arizona and No. 5 Kentucky

Arizona is going to have the two best players on the floor against anyone that they play before the Final Four. Kentucky has been playing some of the best basketball in the country over the course of the last month or so. Both of them make sense in a vacuum.

But we’re not in a vacuum, and I think both of those teams would be terrible matchups against Virginia just like I think that Tennessee and Miami would both be terrible matchups against Cincinnati. More than in any other region, I have a hard time seeing anyone other than the Wahoos and the Bearcats playing for a trip to San Antonio.

(Ethan Miller/Getty Images)


  • No. 11 Loyola-Chicago over No. 6 Miami: The Ramblers are a top 25 defense nationally and probably the best defensive team in the tournament from the mid-major ranks. Where Miami can struggle is when they play a team whose defense can keep their guards from penetrating.
  • No. 11 Loyola-Chicago/No. 6 Miami winner over No. 3 Tennessee: I’m just not sold on Tennessee this season. I think Miami has superior talent and Loyola can hang with their toughness and physicality.


I don’t think that Davidson can handle the athleticism of Kentucky, especially if Jarred Vanderbilt is healthy. I also would love to pick Buffalo to win a game in the tournament but I just can’t seen them keeping a motivated Deandre Ayton from going for 30 points and 15 boards. But the upset I’m going to tell you not to pick here is No. 7 Nevada over No. 2 Cincinnati. The Wolf Pack have not been the same team since Lindsay Drew did his achilles, and I think that the Bearcats have the mobility to defend Nevada’s skilled forwards.


  • DEANDRE AYTON, Arizona: He put together a ridiculous performance in Arizona’s Pac-12 tournament win to cap what was a ridiculous regular season for the potential No. 1 pick.
  • MARCUS FOSTER, Creighton: The Marcus Foster revenge game! He used to be a star for Kansas State before Bruce Weber ran him out of town.
  • GARY CLARK, Cincinnati: Plenty of people are going to be talking about Jacob Evans and what he needs to be offensively, but Clark is Cincinnati’s defensive anchor.


  • KELLAN GRADY, Davidson: Just a freshman, Grady was one of the best players in the Atlantic 10 this season and played his best basketball down the stretch.
  • CALEB MARTIN, Nevada: The N.C. State transfer has been sensational for the Wolf Pack this season.
  • CHRIS LYKES, Miami: Did you know that Miami had a freshman guard that is 5-foot-7 and has been killing people late in the season? You didn’t? You will soon enough.


I’ll definitely be tuned in to Davidson-Kentucky, but Marcus Foster and Creighton against Kansas State has a chance for some fireworks.


Kentucky-Arizona. I think this is pretty self-evident.


Virginia. This is the year that Tony Bennett gets it done.

No. 1 Villanova makes 17 threes, routs No. 9 Alabama

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On paper, this matchup set up perfectly for No. 9-seed Alabama.

The Crimson Tide are the longest and most athletic team that No. 1 seed Villanova has faced off with in months. They entered the day as one of college basketball’s best at defending the three-point line. They have the kind of dynamic play maker at the point guard spot that can give Villanova fits in Collin Sexton.

All of the dots connected.

What I failed to mention there, however, is that Villanova has an uncanny ability to absolutely bury anyone in their path in an avalanche of threes, and that is precisely what happened to the Crimson Tide on Saturday afternoon.

Mikal Bridges, who scored just a single point in the first half, scored 16 of his 23 points in the first four minutes of the second half as Villanova took a game that was close for 20 minutes and turned it into a massacre. The Wildcats outscored Alabama 49-31 in the second half — a number that was limited as the Wildcats took their foot off the gas down the stretch — en route to an 81-58 win.

Villanova will advance to the Sweet 16 to face the winner of tomorrow’s game between No. 5 West Virginia and No. 13 Marshall.

Bridges led the way for Villanova on Saturday, but they may not have been in the position that they were in if it was not for Donte DiVincenzo. The redshirt sophomore caught fire in the first half, scored all 18 points his points and hitting five threes to put Villanova ahead by five at the break. Divincenzo also added five assists, his play-making a difference-maker with Jalen Brunson on the bench with a pair of early fouls.

And that should terrify everyone in the East Region.

Hell, that should be a statement to everyone in this tournament.

Villanova just de-pantsed one of the teams that best matched up with them, a team that has a lottery pick running the point and an NBA player and coach on the sideline. And they did it without much coming from their all-american point guard, the guy that was named the NBC Sports National Player of the Year.

Brunson finished with just 12 points and four assists, and honestly, did you even notice? This was the Bridges show in the second half when Villanova made their run. It was DiVincenzo’s show in the first half when Villanova needed someone to keep them close. We’ve seen Phil Booth take over games. (Anyone remember the 2016 national title game? He had 20.) Omari Spellman can pop off for 25 from time to time.

The Wildcats are just so dangerous.

And when they play like they did today, they are damn near unbeatable.

Police: Thief steals electronics from UNC basketball program

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — Police say someone stole thousands of dollars in electronics from the University of North Carolina men’s basketball team locker room and office while they were away for the ACC tournament.

UNC-Chapel Hill campus police said on Twitter that the break-in happened at the Dean Smith Center on March 9, and they released images of a man they believe may have been involved.

A police report says the thief managed to get into the team locker room and basketball office without forced entry, according to The Herald-Sun.

The report says the thief stole a PlayStation 4, Xbox One and clothing worth $2,900 that belonged to the athletic department. Police say the thief also stole a laptop worth $1,200 and a financial document worth about $3,000 belonging to one of the players.

No upsets over here: No. 1 seed UConn women set scoring records in first round game

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The No. 1 overall seed on the men’s side of the NCAA tournament made history on Friday night.

They because the first No. 1 seed to lose to a No. 16 seed in the first round of the tournament, as Virginia lost to UMBC, if you were still unaware.

Over on the women’s side, the bracket is nowhere near as broken, because UConn’s women made history, too. They set NCAA tournament records for … well, almost everything it seems like.

The Huskies were up 55-19 at the end of the first quarter of their first round game against St. Francis (PA). Those 55 points are an NCAA tournament record. They held a 94-31 lead at the half, another NCAA tournament record, and held on to win 140-52.

The 140 points that Geno Auriemma’s team scored was an NCAA tournament record. The 88 points that they won by was one point short of an NCAA tournament record 89 points that was set by Baylor in a win over Texas Southern last season.

Oh, and the Huskies set the record for more assists in an NCAA tournament game — 38 — for good measure.

All in all, I think it’s safe to say that the fans in Storrs had a better weekend than the fans in Charlottesville. Hopefully, that will allow them to forget the fact that the men’s basketball program has become a laughing stock.

2018 NCAA Tournament: Maryland Governor calls UMBC upset, so does NBC Sports’ writer son

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Never before in the history of the NCAA tournament as a No. 16 seed upset a No. 1 seed.

That was until Friday night, when UMBC sent the No. 1 overall seed Virginia packing.

And if you thought no one had picked that upset, you were wrong.

Let’s start with the Maryland Governor, who was clearly a homer in picking UMBC to not only beat Virginia, but to win a national title:

Never say never, but … that’s never going to happen bud.

But how about this: My son, who is two years old and based his picks on his hard and fast rule of “all the doggies”, called this upset!

He also called Penn over Kansas, Fullerton over Purdue and Butler winning a national title, but whatever.

That bracket is actually pretty good!

VIDEO: Virginia’s Ty Jerome does not appreciate dumb question after UMBC loss

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You have to give Virginia some credit.

After losing to No. 16 seed UMBC in the first round of the NCAA tournament, the players on that roster faced the music. They went up to the dais and answered question from reporters on national television.

There is no way they enjoyed that.

And you can tell because Ty Jerome had absolutely no interest in answering dumb questions from reporters:

He was not amused.