March Madness 24

By: Kenneth Harrison news services

The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament starts this week.

Let’s take a look at the teams around the Southeast that have a chance to win a national championship.

North Carolina: The Tar Heels (27-7) are the No. 1 seed in the West region. They have an easy path to the Final Four as the top seed and the first round of games is in Charlotte.

They will play the winner of Wagner/Howard, which is a game they should win by at least 30. The next round they will play No. 8 Mississippi State or No. 9 Michigan State.

UNC is led by upperclassmen, which is a big advantage in March. They advanced to the national title game in 2022 so they know how to play in big games.

Senior guard RJ Davis leads the team with 21.4 points per game. Grad student center/forward Armando Bacot averages 14.1 ppg and 10.2 rebounds per game. Junior Harrison Ingram averages 12.1 ppg and grad student Cormac Ryan averages 11.2 ppg.

Alabama: The Crimson Tide (21-11) are the No. 4 seed in the West and they play No. 13 College of Charleston (27-7) in the first round. Bama was 13-5 in conference play but they lost their first game of the SEC Tournament to Florida, 102-88.

Their leading scorer is senior guard Mark Sears, with 21.1 ppg. I think the best case scenario for them is a Sweet Sixteen appearance.

Tennessee: The Vols (24-8) are the No. 2 seed in the Midwest region. They will play No. 15 Saint Peter’s (19-13). This should be an easy win. The second round they will face No. 7 Texas or No. 10 Virginia/Colorado.

UT was very good this year and they were 14-4 in the SEC. They were the best team in the conference and the top seed in the SEC Tournament. They lost their first game in the conference tournament to No. 9 Miss. State, 73-56.

Senior guard Dalton Knecht is their leading scorer with 21.1 ppg.

I’m not sure what to make of their early exit from the SEC Tournament. I think they have the talent to make a deep run but they have to focus and play great basketball.

Auburn: The Tigers (27-7) are the No. 4 seed in the East. They start the tournament against No. 13 Yale (22-9). I expect Auburn to beat the Ivy League champs.

They won the SEC Tournament Championship against Florida, 86-67. The next round they would face No. 5 San Diego State or No. 12 UAB. I think they could potentially get to the Sweet Sixteen.

Junior forward Johni Broome is the leading scorer with 16.2 ppg and 8.4 rpg.

Duke: This is considered a down year for the Blue Devils (24-8). They are the No. 4 seed in the South.

We are accustomed to seeing them as a top seed with a realistic chance to win a national championship. They are going to play No. 13 Vermont (28-6).

Sophomore center Kyle Filipowski leads them with 17.1 ppg and 8.2 rpg.

If they win they will face either No. 5 Wisconsin or No. 12 James Madison in the second round. I think they may advance to the Elite Eight.

            Kentucky: The Wildcats (23-9) are in the same category as Duke. We expect more from them with the talent they have on the roster. They are the No. 3 seed in the South and they play No. 14 Oakland (23-11).

If they win, they will face No. 6 Texas Tech or No. 11 NC State in the next round.