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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

March Madness: Three teams in the South bracket to beware of

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Jackie Cabrera

Arizona men’s basketball players Oumar Ballo and Pelle Larsson celebrate scoring against UCLA on Jan. 21 in McKale Center. The Wildcats went on to win with a score of 52-58.

The 2023 NCAA Tournament begins this week, and Arizona men’s basketball was slated into the South region on Selection Sunday. The Wildcats’ first-round meeting will be against Princeton University, the winner of the Ivy League conference. The South region has a lot of diversity, with a share of power-five and mid-major teams. Here is a ranking of three of the more talented teams looking to prevent a Wildcat Final Four run.

No. 1 University of Alabama 

Top to bottom, head coach Nate Oats and his Crimson Tide are the most dangerous team in the field. Alabama can come at opponents in all different ways.

Everything starts with one of the most talented freshmen in college basketball.

At 6-foot-9 and 200 pounds, Brandon Miller’s length, quickness and shot-making ability led him to SEC Player and Freshman of the Year. The freshman averages 19.6 points per game. Noah Clowney is another standout freshman. Clowney, one of the best rim protectors in the SEC, anchors the defense with Charles Bediako. Both have a reputation for the physicality and activity above the rim, highlighted by their length. Alabama has the most depth in the country, with a stable backcourt of Mark Sears and Jahvon Quinerly.

Given the path Alabama drew, it is hard to imagine they don’t make an Elite Eight appearance.

No. 3 Baylor University

When Baylor is in full force, the Bears can hang around with every team in the country; however, the defense isn’t great. The inability to get stops could be why the Bears are bounced early.

Baylor head coach Scott Drew has one of the best backcourts in the country, highlighted by a highly-touted freshman in Keyonte George. Senior Adam Flagler and junior LJ Cryer join him. The duo has postseason experience, winning the National Championship in 2021. The interior scoring for Baylor is lacking, as Flo Thamba is known for his defensive capabilities with limited scoring ability.

If Arizona were to face Baylor, the Wildcats would own the frontcourt battle.

No. 6 Creighton University

Arizona saw the Blue Jays at the Maui Jim Maui Invitational tournament at the beginning of the season. The Wildcats were in command throughout the majority of the game.

If the two schools were to re-match, the game would occur in the Sweet Sixteen.

Creighton is known for their defense and 7-foot-1 center Ryan Kalkbrenner. Theoretically, the two schools match up very well as the score indicated. Arizona won the regular season meeting by 2 points. The Blue Jays are the third-most dangerous team in the Wildcats’ potential path. For this game to occur, Creighton would likely have to beat Baylor.


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