The NCAA tournament’s No. 1 seeds got their rankings for a reason, with all of them a decent choice to win it all. However, they all have their flaws, too.
Let’s take a look at the top seed in each region and highlight their potential weaknesses, which could be exposed in the coming weeks.
East Region: Virginia
The Cavaliers (11-1 to win the NCAA championship) are a strong rebounding team, but even the best rebounding team doesn’t want to always have to grab missed shots. Virginia has been shooting the ball relatively well from 3-point distance, but the Cavaliers still do go through cold spells, which is a concern. They have the services of Joe Harris, who is a very good shooter, but he sometimes forces his shots. When he does, he becomes a very average and guardable offensive player.
Virginia also is not really fast. The Cavaliers like to play a slowdown game not just because such a style hurts the opposition and increases Virginia’s chances of winning, but also because such an approach matches the talent coach Tony Bennett has on the court. Bennett is fitting his system to his personnel.
A final problem with Virginia is free-throw shooting. Only two of Virginia’s main players are particularly good free-throw shooters at the end of games. The foul line really could get in the way of this team’s goals.
South Region: Florida
Florida (5-1) struggles with foul shots. For much of Saturday’s game against Tennessee and Sunday’s game against Kentucky at the SEC Tournament, the Gators shot less than 50 percent from the free-throw line. They improved as they went along, but they still missed enough shots to get coach Billy Donovan’s attention. The Gators might not play close games in their first two appearances in the coming days, but when they get to the Sweet 16, they probably will need to be at their best or close to it.
The other thing Florida does poorly at times is shoot 3-pointers without thinking. Scottie Wilbekin is an excellent point guard, but even he sometimes attempts step-back threes off the dribble without looking to make a pass to a teammate. Florida has to consistently pass the ball and get everyone into the flow of the offense.
Midwest Region: Wichita State
Wichita State’s weakness is simply that it hasn’t played tough opponents. The Shockers (12-1) beat Saint Louis, a No. 5 seed, but they haven’t done anything more than that. They work really hard in all parts of the game and don’t cut corners. However, when a team just hasn’t been tested, it’s hard to say it’s one of the four best teams in the tournament. The Shockers are going to face opponents (probably Kentucky, possibly Kansas State and very possibly Louisville later in the tournament) that will offer much more resistance than they have faced this season.
West Region: Arizona
Arizona, 8-1 at Bovada, has a few basic weaknesses. First, the loss of forward Brandon Ashley robbed this team of a scorer and rebounder who made the Wildcats that much tougher to defend in the paint and near the basket. The Wildcats don’t have as many resources without Ashley, which in turn means their perimeter players have to do more. Ashley created space for those guys and gave the guards and wings more open shots.
On defense, the Wildcats also suffer without Ashley. They gave up a season-high 75 points in the championship game of the Pac-12 Tournament on Saturday against UCLA. If Arizona doesn’t figure out ways to get faster and meaner on defense in the next two weeks, the Wildcats’ stay in the bracket will be much shorter than they hope.
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