Sick of hard-hitting analysis of the 2023 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
I’m taking Arizona as the pick here, because it will be a cold day in hell before I hope something nice happens to Alabama, head coach Nate Oats, and leading scorer Brandon Miller, and the Gutless Wonder pick has to be either the #1 or the #2 generally speaking. Also, Tommy Lloyd’s team is pretty good. This might be some Midwest Coast Bias coming through, but I feel like Azuolas Tubelis is having a quiet All-American type of season. Is it just because UCLA ran away with the Pac-12 title? The Wildcats finished four games back in the standings, but they’re a #2 seed, just like the Bruins.
CHEX BOLD PARTY MIX Bold Pick To Win The Region
We have to pick between some squads with some flaws here. Do you want a Baylor team that has lost four of their last six, including back-to-back losses to Iowa State, one of which was by 15 at home in the regular season finale? And that’s before we talk about their incredibly questionable defense? Do you want a Virginia squad that lost to Boston College a couple of weeks ago and then followed that up with a loss to “not in this tournament” North Carolina? How about a San Diego State team that has won 10 of their last 11 games but is facing a Charleston squad that’s going to be a very popular 5/12 upset pick in the first round? Can we dip down to a #6 seed here and take a Creighton team that hasn’t beaten an NCAA tournament team since February 11th and just got run by Xavier in the Big East semifinals?
We’re starting to search around here without a flashlight in the dark, so I’m going to trust in Tony Bennett to guide the Cavaliers along. You can do worse than trusting a guy who already has a national championship trophy in the display case at home already.
CRUSH YOUR MAN Upset Special
If you’re looking for a purely seed line upset, then look no further than #10 Utah State beating #7 Missouri. Why? Because the Aggies are actually favored to win the game. KenPom has it at 62%, favoring Utah State by four, and Draft Kings has it at USU -1 as I look at it on Monday afternoon.
If you want a more serious upset, take a peek at #12 Charleston knocking off #5 San Diego State. You know you’re going to pick a 12 over a 5 somewhere on the page, why not take the #12 seed that has the fifth longest winning streak in the country and spent four weeks in the AP top 25 this season? San Diego State’s defense is ferocious, but their offense isn’t anything to write home about, and the Cougars can grab offensive rebounds like no one’s business.
Player I’d Pay To Watch
Well, I’ve already paid to watch everyone on the Baylor and Creighton rosters this season since they played at Fiserv, so does that make them all candidates or eliminate them from discussion here?
I think my answer is Kihei Clark from Virginia. There’s something to be said about a tiny dude like him running the backcourt like a maestro for a team that won a league title. Guys like Clark are clearly not beating the world by way of their natural physical talents alone, so you’ve got to be smart and creative to play at this level at his size. He is a Cavalier, so I suppose the “gotta be smart” part just comes built in for a Tony Bennett guy.
The Chiropractor Special aka Who Can Put The Team On His Back?
Can I interest you in Terquavion Smith? The NC State guard does a lot for the Wolfpack, leading the squad in scoring and assists. He’s not the world’s greatest shooter, knocking in just 34% of his long range shots, but seeing as he’s pretty good at getting to the line, Smith just needs to be an effective enough shooter to make teams respect it to make the driving more dangerous. He’s also good on the defensive end, chipping in a steal and a half per game. A big game from him could easily turn into an upset of #6 Creighton.
Best Guy You’ve Never Heard Of
Ajay Mitchell doesn’t come off the floor for UC Santa Barbara. He’s played at least 33 minutes in each of the Gauchos’ last seven games, all wins, and he’s posted four KenPom MVPs in that time. He lead the squad in scoring at 16+ per game and assists as well at over five a night. He doesn’t foul — that helps him play a lot — and he generates a bunch of fouls on the other guys, too. Can he cause enough trouble for Baylor to make that 3/14 game an interesting affair?