Virginia plays today, but not until 9:20pm, so start pounding coffee now. There’s a full slate of games prior to that, and we need to figure out who to cheer for in those games. Again, in all other regions, we just root for upsets, upsets, and more upsets. Chaos rules. But for the South region, we have a more direct interest. We want to increase Virginia’s odds of advancing. Those odds jumped somewhat last night when Arizona was ousted by Buffalo.
With that in mind, here’s a guide for you for Friday’s games.
Early Games in Nashville
When: 2 PM ET
Who: #2 Cincinnati vs #15 Georgia State
Hoo To Root For: Georgia State
Why: Though it’s unlikely, it would be very nice to knock the #2 seed out of the Cavaliers’ region. That’s somewhat obvious.
When: 4:30 PM ET (or 20 minutes after the previous game)
Who: #7 Nevada vs #10 Texas
Hoo To Root For: Texas
Why: This one is tough. Nevada may be the better team, but Texas is battle tested in the Big12. They’ve played Kansas, West Virginia, Texas Tech, Duke, Gonzaga and Michigan already this year. They certainly won’t be intimidated by Cincinnati in the next round. Nevada is 24 on KenPom, whereas Texas is 39, so maybe Nevada can knock off Cincy. But Texas is led by Mo Bamba, one of the nation’s top big men, and he could give Cincinnati’s interior players trouble. Of course, he could also give Virginia’s interior players trouble, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.
Late Games in Charlotte
When: 6:50 PM ET
Who: #8 Creighton vs #19 Kansas State
Hoo To Root For: Kansas State
Why: Creighton is a very good offensive team that plays at a high tempo. The Hoos would be able to control that tempo, but would still have to score with Creighton. K-state is a poor offensive team and plays at a similar tempo to the Hoos. That game would be to Virginia’s advantage.
When: 9:20 PM ET (or 20 minutes after the previous game)
Who: #1 Virginia vs #16 UMBC
Hoo To Root For: Virginia