NCAA Tournament Preview: Odds, Sleepers And Pick For South Region

The South's top seed is one of the NCAA's most overpowered

The South region in the 2023 NCAA Tournament is home to the No. 1 seed in the entire country; The Alabama Crimson Tide.

The top four seeds in the South — Alabama, Arizona, Baylor and Virginia — are representative of the varying types of programs that make the tourney so special. The Crimson Tide are a team on the rise, with the nation’s most talented player (Brandon Miller) leading them to the top seed. Baylor and Virginia have each taken home a National Championship trophy over the past four seasons, while Arizona hasn’t been able to replicate its success from the 1990s.

Looking for a classic March Madness Cinderella story? The South has that too, but we’ll touch more on that later.

Alabama has the second-shortest odds (+750) to take home the title, while Arizona (+1500) and Baylor (+2500) each have a legitimate shot at making a run in the eyes of Vegas as well. Here’s a full preview of the South region, including a pair of picks from NESN betting analyst Sam Panayotovich.

South region field:
(Odds to win region via FanDuel Sportsbook)
1. Alabama (+150)
2. Arizona (+380)
3. Baylor (+600)
4. Virginia (+1500)
5. San Diego State (+1500)
6. Creighton (+850)
7. Missouri (+4500)
8. Maryland (+2000)
9. West Virginia (+3000)
10. Utah State (+5000)
11. North Carolina State (+4000)
12. Charleston (+10000)
13. Furman (+10000)
14. UCSB (+12000)
15. Princeton (+17000)
16. Texas A&M CC (+25000)/SE Missouri State (+25000)

Player to watch: Brandon Miller, Alabama
Brandon Miller is the best basketball player the NCAA has to offer. He’s also, far and away, the most controversial. The 20-year-old’s role in delivering the alleged murder weapon to a fatal shootout in Tuscaloosa has turned him into the biggest sideshow of the tournament. Instead of talking about his status as a future top-five NBA pick who won SEC Freshman of the Year, Player of the Year and Most Outstanding Player of the league tournament, all the talk will surround the horrific events that happened off the court.

What do you think?  Leave a comment.

That distraction isn’t going away, and will not be able to be ignored. Nor should it.

Upset alert: No. 12 Charleston vs. (-5.5) No. 5 San Diego State
Let’s go ahead and get one of the NCAA’s biggest clichés out of the way. No. 12 seeds beat No. 5 seeds. That’s just what happens. The Cougars scored 80.8 points per game and ranked fourth in the nation in total rebounds (40.5) this season, which would terrify any team standing in its path. The Aztecs, who scored 72.1 points per game, will need to amp up the defense in this matchup — meaning the rebounding matchup will be critical. Ante Brzovic, Charleston’s 6-foot-10 sophomore from Croatia, could be the difference.

Pick to win region: Arizona

You can’t go wrong with Alabama or Arizona here, but I prefer Zona’s size and experience to Bama’s youth. The Wildcats play at one of the fastest tempos in the nation and there isn’t a tortoise-like landmine a la Iowa State or Virginia that they’ll have to face at the bottom of the region. If Azoulas Tubelis plays to his potential, Arizona will be extremely tough to beat.

Sleeper: No. 13 Furman

If you’re looking for a team that can win a couple of games, let me introduce you to Furman. The Paladins won the Southern Conference and their deliberate and super-efficient offense is exactly the style to solve Virginia’s defense. Furman is the best two-point offense per Ken Pomeroy and it does a tremendous job protecting the basketball.