South Regional Gambling Preview - presented by Betfred Sportsbook
The South Region is home to the No. 1 overall seed in Alabama, where their path sets up nicely for them. Arizona is the 2-seed, and it seems like Alabama and Arizona are on a collision course to meet in the Elite 8. Baylor, Creighton, Virginia, and San Diego State are all in this region too and can also make some noise.
Here is our full gambling preview, with picks, predictions and upset specials - with odds provided by Betfred Sportsbook.
The Favorite – Alabama (+170)
The Crimson Tide cemented themselves as the No. 1 overall seed in the SEC Championship after blowing out Texas A&M. When the Tide are clicking on all cylinders like they were in that game, there’s almost no team that can beat them in all of college basketball. They seem to be playing with an extra chip on their shoulders too because of everything that happened off-court that the team is still dealing with to this day. They come into this tournament with a ton of pressure because of all the issues, combined with how good the team is, and it will be interesting to see how Nate Oats handles all that.
Brandon Miller is the standout for the Tide and he’s just a freshman. He’s averaging 20 PPG and 8 rebounds per game, which leads the team. He’s also going to be a lottery pick in the NBA Draft because he’s that good. Mark Sears and Noah Clowney are the other two keys for the Crimson Tide. Sears averages 12.5 PPG and leads the team in steals, while Clowney averages 10 PPG and 8 rebounds per game. Those three are the biggest keys for Alabama with Miller being able to do everything, while Sears holds up the backcourt and Clowney mans the front court.
Alabama has a straight shot to the Elite Eight to face Arizona potentially if they can get past West Virginia and San Diego State.
Does the Second Favorite Have a Chance? – Arizona (+360)
The short answer to this question is yes. Arizona plays some of the best offensive basketball in the country. They also have the best front court of any team in the field. Arizona was not expected to be where they are this year after how good they were just one season ago. They’re a 2-seed this season after losing three huge contributors to the NBA. Head Coach, Tommy Lloyd, has been incredible in his short time in Tucson so far, setting an NCAA record for most wins through first two seasons as head coach. It will be interesting to see how he does in Year 2 after a disappointing Sweet 16 loss last year.
Azuolas Tubelis leads the Wildcats into the tournament a year after he had a very inconsistent one. Tubelis leads the team in scoring at 20 PPG and in rebounding at nine per game, earning second team AP All-American honors earlier this week.
Oumar Ballo is next up in the front court as the center. He’s a great complement to Tubelis and averages 14 PPG and 8.5 PPG and then also leads the Wildcats in blocks at 1 per game. Courtney Ramey is then the biggest key for the Wildcats in the backcourt. He averages 11 PPG and is tied for the lead in three-point shooting percentage at 41%. Ramey needs to step up more with Kerr Kriisa not being 100%. Those three will be the keys for the Wildcats because Tubelis and Ballo make up an almost unstoppable front court, while Ramey can get buckets in the backcourt.
Arizona has a straight shot to the Elite Eight for a showdown with Alabama, if they can navigate through teams like the winner of Missouri-Utah State and Creighton or Baylor.
Best Value – Creighton (+800):
The Bluejays are the best 6-seed in the field and have a chance to be very dangerous in this region. They have an incredible starting lineup but hit a skid early this season when their best player, Ryan Kalkbrenner, got mono and missed a few games. They can defend well and are very good on offense and ranked at 67th in college basketball at 76.6 PPG on offense. The metrics love the Bluejays and you can see why with how well-coached and efficient they are.
Ryan Kalkbrenner is the difference maker for the Bluejays at center; he can play down low on the block and stretch the floor and shoot when needed. He leads the team in scoring at 15 per game and in blocks at two per game. Trey Alexander and Baylor Scheierman are the two guards that are pivotal for Creighton to go far in the Tournament. Alexander averages 14 PPG and he’s tied for the lead in steals at 1 per game. Scheierman averages 13 PPG and he leads the team in rebounding at 8 per game and in steals at 1 per game.
This Creighton team was a year early after they got to the second weekend last year, and now they should go even farther thanks to talent and experience, and don’t be shocked if they make a Final Four run.
Baylor stands in Creighton’s way of a potential run to the Sweet 16 and then Arizona before the Elite Eight.
Stay Away – Baylor (+550)
Baylor has maybe the best trio of guards in the country this season with Keyonte George, Adam Flagler, and LJ Cryer, and they lead a great offense into the tournament. The biggest issue with this team is that they have struggled to defend at a consistent level this season. They give up 70 PPG and are ranked 170th in defensive efficiency. They are also coming off two games where they gave up 73 and 78 points to Iowa State, which has not been known for its offense this season.
They get a tough matchup against UC Santa Barbara to open the tournament. The Gauchos are a methodical team that slow the game down and are at 302nd in tempo this season. They also have a primary scorer in Ajay Mitchell. If they win that, they’d then see Creighton and then Arizona back-to-back, who are both bad matchups for them. Scott Drew is an awesome coach, but this version of the Bears isn’t up to his normal standard of being elite.
Long Shot – San Diego State (+1500)
San Diego State is being extremely underrated in this region. They haven’t won a tournament game since 2015, and have yet to win once since Brian Dutcher took over as head coach prior to the 2018 season. The guard trio of Matt Bradley, Darrion Trammell, and Lamont Butler can cause issues for anyone, especially on defense. Bradley is also able to get any shot he wants on offense if the Aztecs go in a lull there.
Everyone is picking Charleston to beat San Diego State, but I just don’t see it. The Aztecs play very good three-point defense, which is a huge blow for Charleston who loves to shoot threes. They’re also very slow in pace and limit possessions, which should allow them to control the game against Charleston. They would also get a favorable matchup next against either Virginia, who’s been inconsistent recently and beat up or Furman, who’s another very good offense that the Aztecs can control. The Aztecs have a decent shot at getting to the Sweet 16 against Alabama.
Prediction: Alabama (+170)
Alabama is set up to roll through this region. They’ve been arguably the most impressive team all year and are also the most complete team in the country. Brandon Miller is a nightmare matchup for most teams, and he’ll be the difference despite being just a freshman. Alabama’s very athletic and that’s going to bother every team in their region. Take the Crimson Tide in this region to get to the Final Four.
Follow Jake Faigus on Twitter - @Jake_Faigus
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