Reggie Upshaw after a dunk late in Middle Tennessee's 90-81 victory against Michigan State in the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament on March 18 at Scottrade Center in St. Louis. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Reggie Upshaw after a dunk late in Middle Tennessee's 90-81 victory against Michigan State in the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament on March 18 at Scottrade Center in St. Louis. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

MARK MADNESS | Mark Adams breaks down the South Region

In bracket order, scouting the NCAA Tournament's South Region for upsets — hello Middle Tennessee! — and previewing the games. They start Tuesday with Kansas State-Wake Forest in a First Four matchup:

Ranking System | Chances for an upset

  • UPSET ALERT! Think "Hoosiers" — 60% or higher
  • I’ll take that bet! — Higher than 50%
  • Flip a coin! — 50%
  • Like marrying a Kardashian — 25%
  • So you’re saying there’s a chance (Lloyd Christmas optimism from "Dumb and Dumber" — 1 in a million

North Carolina vs. Texas Southern |
Friday, 4 p.m., ET


  • Record: 27-7, 14-4 ACC.
  • Go-to guys: 6-8 JR Justin Jackson (18.1 points, 4.6 rebounds, 45% FG shooting, 38% 3PT shooting); 6-0 JR Joel Berry II (15.0 points, 3.3 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 46% FG shooting, 43% 3PT shooting).
  • Strengths: Loaded, deep and offensively talented. The Tar Heels are led by Jackson, Barry and Kennedy Meeks. That is an impressive group but the Tar Heels bring waves of talent.
  • Weaknesses: This team can at times play wine and cheese defense. In other words, they can be soft. If they play blue-collar defense, especially around the arc, they will win it all.


  • Record: 23-11, 16-2 SWAC.
  • Go-to guy: 6-4 JR Zach Lofton (17.0 points, 3.8 rebounds, 43% FG shooting).
  • Strengths: This is a program that has dominated the SWAC lately winning 4 of the last 5 SWAC tournaments. Lofton shoots often but makes enough shots to attract defensive attention.
  • Weaknesses: These SWAC champs don’t shoot the ball well and they don’t defend all that well but they are talented and have played all comers on the road. This is not a good rebounding team but Coach Mike Davis and his team wins in the SWAC.

» UPSET PREDICTION: So you’re saying there’s a chance (1 in a million)

Arkansas vs. Seton Hall |
Friday, 1:30 p.m. ET


  • Record: 25-9, 12-6 SEC.
  • Go-to guys: 6-3 SR Dusty Hannahs (14.6 points, 44% FG shooting, 38% 3PT shooting); 6-3 JR Daryl Macon (13.4 points, 45% FG shooting, 38% 3PT shooting).
  • Strengths: Hannahs and Macon gives the Razorbacks two long-range threats and money from the free throw stripe. This team shoots it well and those two make Arkansas a sleeper team to watch.
  • Weaknesses: This is a whack and hack team that will put their opponents on the line on a regular basis. If they force turnovers they win, if not it’s back to Fayetteville.


  • Record: 21-11, 10-8 Big East.
  • Go-to guys: 6-10 JR Angel Delgado (15.3 points, 13.1 rebounds, 55% FG shooting); 6-6 JR Desi Rodriquez (15.9 points, 5.1 rebounds, 45% FG shooting).
  • Strengths: The Pirates are a great rebounding team that is average at best in every other stat category. Their best offense at times is throw it up and go get it.
  • Weaknesses: This is a team with warts. This is a terrible free throw shooting team and they turn it over. Those are two big warts.

» UPSET PREDICTION: Flip a coin (50%)

Minnesota vs. Middle Tennessee |
Thursday, 4 p.m. ET


  • Record: 24-9, 11-7 Big Ten.
  • Go-to guy: 6-1 JR Nate Mason (15.5 points, 3.7 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 38% FG shooting, 37% 3PT shooting).
  • Strengths: Reggie Lynch only averages 8 PPG and 6 RPG but he may hold the biggest key to the Gophers' success in the NCAA tournament. He is the nation's second-leading shot-blocker (3.5). At this level any freak talent is a good talent and Lynch just may be the guy to catapult Minnesota beyond the first round. Nate Mason is a solid decision maker and free throw closer in late game situations.
  • Weaknesses: The Gophers can go through long scoring droughts and are not a top flight shooting team. That is why the interior defense of Lynch is so critical.


  • Record: 30-4, 17-1 Conference USA.
  • Go-to guys: 6-2 JR Giddy Potts (15.8 points, 5.5 rebounds, 49% FG shooting, 39% 3PT shooting); 6-7 SR Reggie Upshaw (14.5 points, 4.7 rebounds, 53% FG shooting); 6-8 SR Jacorey Williams (17.3 points, 5.6 rebounds, 54% FG shooting).
  • Strengths: The big three of Williams, Upshaw and Potts make this team dangerous — just ask Michigan State! The Blue Raiders floord the Sprtans in the first round last year. This year's MTSU team is balanced with three high-level players who can play with anyone. Freshman point guard Tyrik Dixon is no longer a freshman and his development has been a huge key as this team has progressed through the season.
  • Weaknesses: This is a solid defensive team but not a great defensive team. They do not have a shot eraser to anchor the paint but they do play fundamentally sound position defense. The Blue Raiders are also a jump shot team led by Potts but also a team that does not generate as many points as their opponents from the free throw line.

» UPSET ALERT! (60% or higher)

Butler vs. Winthrop |
Thursday, 1:30 p.m. ET


  • Record: 23-8, 12-6 Big East.
  • Go-to guy: 6-7 JR Kelan Martin (16.1 points, 5.7 rebounds, 42% FG shooting, 35% 3PT shooting).
  • Strengths: We all agree that these Bulldogs are hard to guard. They respect every single possession, share the ball and shoot a high percentage from the floor and the free throw line. Tyler Lewis is a cerebral lead guard who is a top-three A/TO ratio guy at almost 4/1. That is the good news.
  • Weaknesses: This is a below-average defensive team and that means that while spunky Butler has always been a darling of past tournaments, their seed will make them an upset target this time around and their less than impressive defense makes them vulnerable.


  • Record: 26-6, 15-3 Big South.
  • Go-to guy: 5-7 SR Keon Johnson (22.5 points, 3.9 rebounds, 44% FG shooting, 40% 3PT shooting).
  • Strengths: Winthrop can flat out guard and can bang threes. That makes these Eagles an upset darling. Johnson is a 5-7 scoring machine (22.5 PPG) and 3-point (40%) assassin. His presence alone makes this team a threat to advance but the rest of this team led by dynamic Xavier Cooks is good enough to help him when he needs it.
  • Weaknesses: The Eagles are an average rebounding team and can be turnover prone. If these two areas are exploited, then Winthrop will be an early exit.

» UPSET PREDICTION: Like marrying a Kardashian (25%)

Kansas St. vs. Wake Forest |
Tuesday, 9:10 p.m. ET


  • Record: 20-13, 8-10 Big 12.
  • Go-to guy: 6-7 SR Wesley Iwundu (12.5 points, 6.4 rebounds, 48% FG shooting, 36% 3PT shooting); 6-9 SR D.J. Johnson (11.2 points, 5.8 reboounds, 1.5 blocked shots, 62% FG shooting).
  • Strengths: This is an average team overall and a below average team in this tournament.
  • Weaknesses: Kansas State can’t guard the 3-ball. They are a below average FT team and are not a compelling rebounding team. Good luck!


  • Record: 19-13, 9-9 ACC.
  • Go-to guy: 6-10 SO John Collins (18.9 points, 9.8 rebounds, 1.6 blocked shots, 62% FG shooting).
  • Strengths: Collins is an ACC double-double guy and coach Danny Manning counts on Keyshawn Woods and Bryant Crawford to knock down shots. The Demon Deacons can score at over 82 PPG and put a lot of pressure on opposing defenses early in a possession.
  • Weaknesses: This might be the worst defensive team in the field. That typically doesn’t work on this stage.

» UPSET PREDICTION: Flip a coin (50%)

Cincinnati vs. Kansas St./Wake Forest |
Friday, 7:27 p.m. ET


  • Record: 29-5, 16-2 AAC.
  • Go-to guys: 6-4 SR Troy Caupain (10.1 points, 4.6 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 39% FG shooting); 6-6 SO Jacob Evans (13.8 points, 4.1 rebounds, 47% FG shooting, 42% 3PT shooting and a big-game player: 25 points vs. No. 25 Rhode Island, 21 points vs. No. 24 Xavier); 6-5 FR Jarron Cumberland (8.1 points, 2.4 rebounds, 48% FG shooting, 35% 3PT shooting).
  • Strengths: The Bearcats are more of a 2.0 version with added offensive software capabilities. We all know that a Mick Cronin -coached team defends but this team can also score at every position. Cronin can expose mismatches with high-quality post play (Kyle Washington), point guard decision-making (Troy Caupain) and athletic tweeners (Evans/Gary Clark/JKevin Johnson) who can defend and score. This is a team that was built to make a deep run.
  • Weaknesses: Cincinnati is a below average free throw shooting team. Cincinnati is in the bottom 25% of FT shooting teams in the country at 67%. Close games breed late game free throw heroics. Can the Bearcats get hot enough from the charity stripe to advance for a deep run?

» UPSET PREDICTION: Like marrying a Kardashian (25%)

UCLA vs. Kent State |
Friday, 9:57 p.m. ET

3 | UCLA

  • Record: 29-4, 15-3 Pac 12.
  • Go-to guys: 6-6 FR Lonzo Ball (14.6 points, 6.1 rebounds, 7.7 assists, 1.9 steals, 54% FG shooting, 41% 3PT shooting); 6-3 SR Bryce Alford (15.8 points, 2.5 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 45% FG shooting, 44% 3PT shooting).
  • Strengths: Lonzo Ball is better than Steph Curry. NOT! But, ball is really good. Ball makes everyone better in an offense that is arguably the most entertaining in the nation. The Bruins lead the nation in scoring, FG%, A/TO ratio, assists/game. As good as Ball is making things go, TJ Leaf is equally effective as an offensive driver in the post.
  • Weaknesses: The Bruins can be vulnerable to shots from behind the arc and on the flip side because they often settle for the jump shot they don’t go to the line a lot.


  • Record: 22-13, 10-8 MAC.
  • Go-to guy: 6-7 SR Jimmy Hall (18.9 points, 10.5 rebounds, 52% FG shooting.
  • Strengths: This team has one special strength and it is Hall (21 double-doubles, fifth in the NCAA). He is a mismatch guy. Deon Edwin also is a diverse offensive talent to compliment Hall. Kent also can compete on the boards (6.0 rebound margin).
  • Weaknesses: If Kent can make some shots that will help their cause tremendously as this is typically a poor shooting team from three ball land. Their aggressive defense leads to too many fouls.

» UPSET PREDICTION: Like marrying a Kardashian (25%)

Dayton vs. Wichita State |
Friday, 7:10 p.m. ET


  • Record: 24-7, 15-3 Atlantic 10.
  • Go-to guys: 6-5 SR Charles Cooke (16.1 points, 5.1 rebounds, 47% FG shooting, 40% 3PT shooting); 6-2 SR Scoochie Smith (13.4 points, 4.5 assists, 46% FG shooting, 39% 3PT shooting); 6-7 SO Ryan Mikesel (when he shoots well the Flyers are nearly unbeatable!).
  • Strengths: If point guard decision-making is a key ingredient to winning NCAA Tournament games the Flyers are in very good hands with Smith. He combines a wealth of NCAA tournament experience with a natural sense of when he needs to score and when he needs to makes his teammates better. Cooke is a rangy big wing who can score versus high major defenders. There is a D in Dayton and for good reason but there is also an O. This is a balanced team that has overcome a ton of injuries this season. Archie Miller is arguably one of the top five coaches in the country. These Flyers are ready to take off like their 1967 brothers led by Don May, who made it all the way to the NCAA championship game before losing to Lew Alcindor and UCLA.
  • Weaknesses: While the Flyers are solid at four positions they have never been able to fill the five spot void once dominated by the late Steve McElvene. He was destined for greatness and while his infectious enthusiasm still lives in this program, his loss cannot be ignored.


  • Record: 30-4, 17-1 Missouri Valley.
  • Go-to guys: 6-1 JR Conner Frankamp (9.2 points, 2.7 assists, 46% FG shooting, 45% 3PT shooting); 6-4 FR Landry Shamet (11.1 points, 3.3 assists, 48% FG shooting, 45% 3PT shooting).
  • Strengths: Defense, depth and diversity defines these Shockers. I’m a bit of an expert about these guys and I’m going to let you in on a secret. This is Gregg Marshall’s best team. They hold opponents under 38% field-goal shooting and average more than 80 PPG. Landry Shamet is the next banner hanger in Wichita and it might be another Final Four banner or better before he is done. You heard it here first!
  • Weaknesses: This is an extremely young team that may not understand their immediate opportunity. My guess is one of the best coaches in the country will drive home that point. I really like this team!

» UPSET PREDICTION: I’ll take that bet (higher than 50%)

Kentucky vs. Northern Kentucky |
Friday, 9:40 p.m. ET


  • Record: 29-5, 16-2 SEC.
  • Go-to guys: 6-3 FR Malik Monk (20.4 points, 46% FG shooting, 40% 3PT shooting); 6-3 FR De’Aaron Fox (16.1 points, 4.1 rebounds, 4.8 assists).
  • Strengths: Monk can take over any game and usually does with a flair for the dramatic. He is a go to guy’s, go to guy! The Wildcats can score and smother the three-point line. I could keep rolling here but let those other guys who worship the big budget teams finish this. One last shot: Kentucky spends $20M on men’s basketball. No further comment.
  • Weaknesses: This is a young team that seems to not get it at times. The big question here is not if UK is good enough but instead, do they want it bad enough? Lastly, this young defense at times plays more with their hands than their feet. Translation? They foul too much.


  • Record: 26-10, 12-6 Horizon.
  • Go-to guys: 6-7 SO Drew McDonald (16.4 points, 7.7 rebounds, 48% FG shooting, 39% 3PT shooting); 6-1 JR Lavone Holland II (14.3 points, 4.1 assists, 44% FG shooting, 37% 3PT shooting).
  • Strengths: McDonald is an old-school basketball player. He and Cole Murray gives the Norse a legit inside/outside combination. Holland is willing to dish to both. After that it gets iffy.
  • Weaknesses: The Norse are turnover prone and an average defensive team. That usually does not bode well for tournament success. The Norse are making their NCAA Tournament debut and it would be something to see them stun their state rivals!

» UPSET PREDICTION: So you’re saying there’s a chance (1 in a million)

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