2024 NCAA Tournament South Region Preview: March Madness Upsets, Picks, Bets, and Bracket

2024 NCAA Tournament South Region Preview: March Madness Upsets, Picks, Bets, and Bracket

With first-round games tipping off on Thursday, the Sports Gambling Podcast Network breaks down the action with our NCAA Tournament South Region preview, where we’ll give our March Madness upsets, picks, bets, and bracket insights.

The South Region will play across multiple host sites before converging in Dallas for the Sweet 16 and Elite 8. This is a region loaded with traditional power programs and a strong favorite.

Houston earned the No. 1 seed in the South Region thanks to a 30-4 record. The Cougar’s half of the bracket includes the No. 4 seed Duke, No. 5 seed Wisconsin, Nebraska, and Texas A&M.

On the bottom side of the region, Marquette is the top seed and could face Kentucky, Texas Tech, or Florida on its path to the second weekend.

Our NCAA Tournament South Region preview is loaded with best bets and upset picks. So, let’s dive into the action below.

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2024 NCAA Tournament South Region Preview: March Madness Upsets, Picks, Bets, and Bracket

 Best Bet: Texas Tech vs. NC State – Texas Tech -5.5 DraftKings

Yes, it was an impressive run at the ACC Conference Tournament by NC State. However, this has not been a good team outside those five days.

Removing games from that tournament, BartTorvik has the Wolfpack rated as a bottom six team in this region since February. They would drop even lower if you looked at the full season.

I also just do not trust coach Kevin Keatts’ squad on the defensive end of the floor. Over the last 10 games of the regular season, NC State would be in the bottom two of the South Region in adjusted efficiency, effective field goal, and opponents’ two-point and three-point shooting.

By backing Tech, we get a coaching advantage with Grant McCasland, who won an NCAA Tournament game and the NIT while at North Texas. Meanwhile, Keatts has not won an NCAA Tournament game with the Wolfpack.

This feels like a spread that would be much larger without the recent NC State run, and I’m not sure that form will carry over here. I like the Red Raiders in the opening round as my best bet for the South Region preview.

Favorite: Houston – Win the NCAA Tournament +500 DraftKings

Coach Kelvin Sampson has Houston gearing up for another run in the NCAA Tournament. The Cougars have advanced to the Sweet 16 in the last four tournaments, and they will be another tough out here.

The path will be an interesting one. Assuming there are no issues with Longwood in the opening round, Sampson’s squad will face two of the hottest teams in the country in Nebraska or Texas A&M in the second round.

With Duke and Wisconsin also in the top half of the South Region bracket, Houston will have to battle to reach the Final Four. It won’t help that the Cougars may not be at full strength.

The team’s leading rebounder, J’Wan Roberts, picked up an injury at the Big 12 Tournament. He was only able to play 13 minutes in the championship game and was largely ineffective.

With fellow big man Joseph Tugler already out for the season, this could be an area of weakness for the Cougars.

We saw Houston come into last season’s tournament banged up and get upset in the Sweet 16. So, I would need to get a health update before backing the Cougars at these prices.

Dark Horse: Colorado

There are not many teams in the country that can roll out two future NBA lottery-pick players in their starting lineups like Colorado. With injuries and other concerns with the top seeds in the lower half of the South Region, I like the Buffaloes as a team that could make some noise as the No. 10 seed.

Yes, Colorado does have to start in Dayton in one of the play-in games, but we have seen the at-large teams from the First Four have success. Since the First Four began in 2011, five of the 12 years have seen a team progress from a play-in game to the Sweet 16.

The path is there for the Buffaloes to be that next team. They start with a Boise State team that has struggled in the NCAA Tournament under coach Leon Rice.

Colorado would then have two teams, Florida and Marquette, with key injury questions. The Gators just lost their starting center in the SEC Tournament, while the Golden Eagles’ second-leading scorer missed the Big East Tournament.

Since February, BartTorvik has the Buffaloes rated very closely to those two higher seeds. So, I like the price offered for Colorado to make the Sweet 16 at +650 at FanDuel.

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First-Round Upset: Oakland vs. Kentucky – Oakland ML +575 DraftKings

Teams I love to target for early exits from the NCAA Tournament are up-tempo, offensive squads that struggle defensively. Kentucky fits that bill in this region as my favorite South Region upset pick.

Since February, only Longwood in this region has a worse adjusted defensive rating by BartTorvik than the Wildcats. They have also struggled this year on the glass on the defense, which is an area where Oakland ranks in the top 120 in the country.

This game ultimately comes down to the team that shoots better from beyond the arc. Both squads score a majority of their points on three-pointers and neither has been great at defending them.

Kentucky could shoot Oakland right out of its zone defense in a hurry. However, if those shots aren’t falling, the Grizzlies could cause some issues with their slow tempo in a tournament setting.

Coach John Calipari hasn’t made it to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament since 2019, and it wouldn’t shock me if this is closer than the oddsmakers believe it will be. Give me Oakland as my favorite upset of the South Region preview.

South Region Preview Bracket

2024 NCAA Tournament South Region Preview: March Madness Upsets, Picks, Bets, and Bracket

 

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