Top seed outlook: Can No. 1 Virginia exorcise last year’s allies now that the team is currently at full strength? Our model believes so. The Cavaliers have a 49 percent likelihood of cracking the Final Four and a 31 percent probability of accomplishing what would be the program’s first national title game.
Together with De’Andre Hunter, that wasn’t on the court last year through UVA’s historic loss to No. 16 Maryland Baltimore County, the Cavaliers were dominant on both ends — the only team ranking in the top five at Pomeroy’s adjusted offense and protection metrics. Once again, Tony Bennett’s package line defense is suffocating most every offensive opportunity and successfully turning games into rock fights. But this year’s team is better on the offensive end and ought to breeze into the Elite Eight, in which it might meet Tennessee. Due to Grant Williams and the wonderfully named Admiral Schofield, the No. 2 Volunteers are playing their very best basketball in history. We give them a 22 percent probability of reaching the Final Four.
Sneaky Final Four pick: No. 6 Villanova. Can it be”sneaky” to pick the team that has won two of the past three national titles? Maybe not. But this hasn’t been the same group that coach Jay Wright guided to those championships. After losing a ton of its best players from last year’s title-winning group, the Wildcats had an up-and-down season and dropped five of their final eight regular-season Big East games. But they also got hot over the past week, capping off a season where they still won the Big East regular-season and conference-tournament titles — and had among the 20 best offenses in the country according to KenPom (powered through an absurd amount of 3-pointers). Our power ratings think they’re the fourth-best team in the South despite being the No. 6 seed, and they have a 5% chance of earning it back into the Final Four for a third time in four seasons.
Don’t bet : No. 4 Kansas State. Coach Bruce Weber’s Wildcats almost produced the Final Four final season, however they may find it tougher this time around. K-State has an elite defense (it ranks fourth in the nation according to Pomeroy’s evaluations ), but its crime is prone to battles — and could be down its second-leading scorer, forward Dean Wade, who missed the team’s Big 12 championship loss to Iowa State with a foot injury. A barbarous draw that gives the Wildcats tough No. 13 seed UC Irvine in the first round, then puts them opposite the Wisconsin-Oregon winner in Round 2, could limit their capability to advance deep into a second consecutive tournament.
Cinderella see: No. 12 Oregon. In accordance with our model, the Ducks have the best Sweet 16 chances (24 percent) of almost any double-digit seed at the tournament, more than twice that of any other offender. Oregon struggled to string together wins for the majority of the regular season, and its chances seemed sunk following 7-foot-2 phenom Bol Bol was missing for the year with a foot injury in January. But the Ducks have rallied to win eight consecutive games heading into the tournament, including a convincing victory in Saturday’s Pac-12 championship. Oregon matches a similar mold as K-State — great defense with a defendant crime — but that is telling, since the Ducks are a 12-seed and the Wildcats are a No. 4. Should they meet in the Round of 32, we provide Oregon a 47 percent chance at the upset.
Player to watch: Grant Williams, Tennessee
The junior has come a long way from being”just a fat boy with some ability.” Williams, the de facto leader of Rick Barnes’s Volunteers, has bullied the SEC over the previous two seasons, amassing two consecutive conference player of the year honors.
The Vols might just feature the very best crime of Barnes’s coaching career — and we are talking about a guy who coached Kevin Durant! A lot of that offensive potency can be traced to Williams, the team’s leading scorer and rebounder, that positions in the 97th percentile in scoring efficacy, based on information courtesy of Synergy Sports.
Williams possesses an old-man match you might find in a local YMCA, a back-to-the-basket, footwork-proficient offensive attack that manifests primarily in post-ups, where he positions in the 98th percentile in scoring efficiency and shoots a adjusted field-goal proportion of 56.1. He can find the Volunteers buckets from the waning minutes of matches, also, as he ranks in the 96th percentile in isolation scoring efficiency.
Likeliest first-round upsets: No. 9 Oklahoma over No. 8 Ole Miss (53 percent); No. 12 Oregon over No. 5 Wisconsin (45 percent); No. 10 Iowa over No. 7 Cincinnati (34 percent)

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