Sick of hard-hitting analysis of the 2022 NCAA Tournament? Up to your eyeballs in expert picks chock-full of astute takes on players to watch and budding upsets?
Fear not, friends: your pals at Anonymous Eagle are here to inject some half-baked, homespun “insight” into the proceedings, with our (mostly) annual region-by-region tour, as we go Anonymously Through the Brackets.
For each region, we’ll give you our patented Anonymous Eagle Half-Arsed Analysis with: a gutless pick to win the region; a sleeper regional champ; a CRUSH YOUR MAN upset special; a player/team we’d pay to watch; a player most likely to carry his team singlehandedly to the Sweet 16; and the best player in the region that you’ve never heard of before.
Let’s see what Bracketville has in store for us in the South Region.....
GUTLESS WONDER PICK To Win The Region
Now that Sean Miller isn’t their head coach, maybe, Arizona can be trusted in the tournament this year. They’re my Gutless Wonder pick and for good reason. The second tallest D1 team has lost just three times all season. Not many teams can hang with their frontcourt or their insanely fast tempo. They boast the fifth best offense in the country according to KenPom.com and much of their play runs through 7’1” Christian Koloko and 6’11” Azuolas Tubelis. Their path to the Final Four could match them up against Illinois’s Kofi Cockburn in an old school frontcourt battle.
CHEX BOLD PARTY MIX Bold Pick To Win The Region
I won’t ever be able to forgive Arizona after years of picking them to go far and always going out early, so if you’re feeling hesitant to pick them this season Tennessee is the team for you. They’re one of the best defensive teams in the country and have super good ball movement on offense. They’re coming off an SEC tournament championship and have beaten Kentucky twice this season. If you’re looking for a really bold pick, even more bold than a three seed, try Colorado State at the six seed. The Rams have one of the best players in the tournament, don’t turn the ball over much, and shoot it very efficiently.
CRUSH YOUR MAN Upset Special
There are a couple of tempting ways to go here, Loyola Chicago returns to the tournament as a 10 seed, meaning that they’ll face #7 Ohio State in the first round. But, a 10 knocking out a 7 isn’t quite as fun of an upset as maybe... a 12 seed over a #5 seed. As much as I really like Houston, I like UAB that much more. The Blazers are a team that forces a lot of turnovers and shoots the three really really well, which are two things that I always look for in a possible upset team. UAB is on a seven game win streak with only one home game in that stretch, so they’re prepped and ready for an unfamiliar atmosphere.
Player I’d Pay To Watch
There are a ton of options from this region: Kofi Cockburn, Collin Gillespie, Christian Koloko, to name a few. But Arizona’s Bennedict Mathurin takes the cake here. I’m a sucker for some good guard play and Mathurin is capable of some really awesome stuff with the ball in his hands. He can create off the dribble, athletically finish around the rim, and his turnaround threes are insane. He did this just a few days ago against UCLA’s defense:
The Chiropractor Special aka: Who Can Put The Team On His Back?
We’re trying to talk metaphorically here, but literally physically, Illinois’s Kofi Cockburn could probably carry his entire team the length of a basketball court if he really had to, and he’s a guy who can completely take over a game. When he’s on, Cockburn is one of the most dominant bigs in college basketball. He’s averaging a 21 point double-double, so he’s not just sneaking through the door for that. He also put up 37 points and 12 rebounds in a game against UW-Madison earlier this year:
Best Guy You’ve Never Heard Of
If you follow college basketball kinda closely you might’ve already heard his name, but David Roddy deserves this title in a region filled with huge stars throughout the top four seeds. He led Colorado State to a six seed in this year’s tournament on 19 points, seven rebounds, and nearly three assists per game. He’s nationally ranked (top 500) in every single statistical category KenPom.com offers except for two, and even comes in at #9 in their rankings for KenPom Player of the Year. He also won the Mountain West Conference Player of the Year award, maybe not quite the most competitive award, but he still won and that’s cool.