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Upset Alert: Teams to Fade From the South Region (March Madness)

by March 16, 2021

You know we got you covered here at BettingPros with all the up-to-date information and statistical data for this upcoming tournament. Make sure to check out my Cinderella Guide, along with the bracket optimizer.

Now I’m back to write about different teams to be on high alert for an upset. There is an art to picking an upset, and it really goes beyond just who is going to be beaten in the first round. For these rounds of articles, I will be covering teams to fade in all four regions. I will include three teams for each region: a chalky upset pick, a common choice, and a potential shocker.

Here are teams to be wary of in the South region.

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Chalky Upset Pick: Villanova 

Without Collin Gillespie, this team is simply a shell of what it could be, and it showed right away with Nova finishing off the season, losing to Providence and Georgetown. The Wildcats have almost become so popular of an upset pick that I see picking them to reach the Sweet 16 as a decent leverage play. After all, Jay Wright is one of the best coaches in the tournament, and he has shown his ability to take teams on deep tournament runs.

Obviously, this team is not nearly as talented as past Villanova squads, but they’ve had some time to lick their wounds and practice without Gillespie. Winthrop is a solid team with only one loss. The Eagles get a lot of boards and force a high percentage of turnovers. I will be picking them in a lot of my brackets, and I really expect this game to go down to the wire. Even if Villanova does win, I think Purdue will quickly halt their tournament run in round two. 

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Common Choice: Texas Tech

While being the most recent tournament runner-ups, the Red Raiders are a completely different team from two seasons ago. They competed in nearly all their games but finished off the season sluggish, only earning one win over a KenPom top-100 team in their final nine games. Utah State has not been talked about much, but if you look at a blind resume, the Aggies line up well with Texas Tech.

Utah State’s elite interior defense will force Texas Tech to find scoring elsewhere, and the Red Raiders offense has not exactly been great, ranking 219th in 2pt%. The Aggies are also good at staying out of foul trouble and not gifting opponents with a high free throw rate, something Texas Tech depends a lot on to score. This game will be a defensive slugfest, and I like the idea of Utah State advancing.

Potential Shocker: Arkansas

I covered this in my Cinderella Guide, but Colgate and Arkansas’s first-round matchup might just have the widest range of outcomes out of any this first weekend. While Colgate is 14-1, they never played a team ranked 175th or better in KenPom, so it is really tough to quantify just how good the Raiders are. With that being said, they are a lights-out shooting team, and they’ve had games shooting well above 50% from beyond-the-arc.

Any key to a good upset is getting hot from deep, and Colgate is a firecracker waiting for a spark. Both these teams run like gazelles, and anything can happen here. Arkansas easily has a chance to score triple-digits and win by 30, but Colgate’s make-up has upset written all over it, and it is a fun thought to have.  

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Ryan Coleman is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Ryan, check out his archive.

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