2024 NCAA Tournament Preview: South Region

March 21, 2024

Let’s preview the South Region.

First Round Games That Could Go Either Way

#8 Nebraska vs. #9 Texas A&M (Friday, approximately 6:50 PM ET – TNT)

Fun fact: these two schools play each other in the first round of both the men’s and women’s Tournament. Nebraska has had an excellent season and Fred Hoiberg’s team is difficult to stop when the offensive movement is crisp. The Aggies have hit their stride at the right time, and the eye test says that Texas A&M should be much better than its overall record suggests.

#5 Wisconsin vs. #12 James Madison (Friday, approximately 9:40 PM ET – CBS)

There isn’t a 5 vs. 12 matchup in the bracket this year that isn’t being circled as a potential upset waiting to happen. This one might be the most popular one of them all, with James Madison introducing itself to the country by knocking off Michigan State on the opening night of the season, when the Spartans were a top five team. The Dukes won’t be afraid of another Big Ten foe, but Wisconsin is getting back to playing at the level of the team that stormed out of the gate and at one point was a top 10 team itself.

#6 Texas Tech vs. #11 North Carolina State (Thursday, approximately 9:40 PM ET – CBS)

The Wolfpack ripped through the ACC Tournament last week, reeling off five straight victories in as many days to steal a bid from a fellow Bubble resident. While this type of performance cannot be ignored, Kevin Keats will need to dig deep to ensure that his team doesn’t experience a significant adrenaline dropoff from that run. If they do, Texas Tech is a balanced enough team offensively (five players average double-digits in PPG) to take advantage.

#7 Florida vs. #10 Colorado (Friday, approximately 4:30 PM ET – TBS)

The Gators were perhaps slightly under-seeded if they were at full strength, but the loss of Micah Handlogten does mitigate a significant advantage that Florida would have enjoyed in this game in the rebounding department. Rallying from the loss is not impossible by any stretch of the imagination, but it does open the door for a mild upset to occur here without many eyebrows being raised.

Team That Could Make a Run

Texas A&M

The Aggies were not always the most consistent team this season, but have all the makings of a team that could cut down the net in the South region. Texas A&M challenged itself in the non-conference schedule and navigated a competitive SEC to earn itself a top 20 strength of schedule rating according to KenPom, so a potential second round matchup with top-seeded Houston will not phase the Aggies.

Putting it all together for consecutive weekends is a big ask, but the Aggies have the talent to beat every team in the region if they play to their potential.

Remember The Name

Wade Taylor IV, Texas A&M

For the Aggies to make a run in this year’s Tournament, Taylor will need to emerge as one of the stars of the show. Averaging nearly 19 points a game is impressive, but Taylor does so while also sharing the lion’s share of Texas A&M’s perimeter scoring output with similarly talented Tyrece Radford.

Interestingly, Taylor is the only one of the SEC’s top five individual scorers that hits fewer than 46% of his shots from the floor. As they say, shooters gonna shoot. And, well…shoot away Taylor will.

AJ Storr, Wisconsin

The super sophomore has taken a massive leap forward in his second season in Madison, emerging as a confident slasher to the basket on a team that needed such an offensive force to complement Steven Crowl’s post presence and Chucky Hepburn’s distribution capabilities.

Wisconsin has quietly emerged as a top 15 offense in terms of efficiency according to KenPom, and the maturation of Storr this season played a major role in that. Wisconsin appears to be playing its best basketball (again) in March, and so is Storr.

Around The Corn’s Picks

First Round

#1 Houston over #16 Longwood

#8 Texas A&M over #9 Nebraska

#5 Wisconsin over #12 James Madison

#4 Duke over #13 Vermont

#6 Texas Tech over #11 North Carolina State

#3 Kentucky over #14 Oakland

#10 Colorado over #7 Florida (upset alert)

#2 Marquette over #15 Western Kentucky

Second Round

#1 Houston over #8 Texas A&M

#5 Wisconsin over #4 Duke

#3 Kentucky over #6 Texas Tech

#10 Colorado over #2 Marquette (upset alert)

Sweet 16

#1 Houston over #5 Wisconsin

#3 Kentucky over #10 Colorado

Elite 8

#3 Kentucky over #1 Houston

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