NCAAB: Previewing the NCAA Tournament South Region - Hot Time in O-Town

NCAA Basketball Sports News


  • The South Region of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament includes Michigan’s own Oakland University. The Golden Grizzlies are in the tournament for the fourth time and are the 14 seed.
  • Oakland has only one NCAA Tournament win in their history, back in a 2005 Play-In game.
  • Houston is the top seed in the South Region, followed by Marquette and Kentucky.

The NCAA Tournament Selection Committee didn’t give Oakland much love.

Oakland, one of just two Michigan schools to make the Big Dance along with Michigan State, drew a 14 seed and perennial SEC power Kentucky in the first round. College basketball fans know all about Kentucky and their eight national titles. It’s the school that made one-and-done a thing.

Michigan sportsbooks are a big thing all throughout March Madness. DraftKings Sportsbook and PointsBet will have deep markets on each NCAA Tournament game, including who cuts down the nets at the Final Four in Phoenix on April 8.

What Do the Oddsmakers Say? 

The South is all about Houston. The Cougars, who have never won an NCAA title, are the favorite to win the South Region. Houston is 30-4 and won the Big 12 regular season title, but were decked in the Big 12 final by Iowa State. Houston leads the nation in defense, allowing 57 points a game.

Oakland meets Kentucky in Pittsburgh on Thursday night at 7:10 p.m. and the Golden Grizzlies are a 13-point underdog with the total a high 162.5.

Best First Round Game 

Oakland is such a fun story entering the NCAA Tournament. They are coached by Greg Kampe, the dean of Division 1 coaches at 40 years and counting. This is the Golden Grizzlies fourth NCAA Tournament appearance. They went 23-11 to win the Horizon League and feature 6-foot-6 junior Trey Townsend.

But can they really hang with Kentucky?

It’s been the usual inconsistent season for the talented Wildcats. Of course, they brought in the nation’s No. 1 freshman class, and of course, they’ve struggled to all play together. Freshmen Reed Sheppard and Rob Dilingham are already projected as NBA lottery picks. Kentucky has been to 17 Final Fours. They are always a team that could win the tournament. Oakland will need to hang in there for the first 5-10 minutes and hope it’s still a game and then frustrate Kentucky to have a shot.

The Song of the South

Duke, remember us, is the four seed in the South. They’ve been to the tournament 46 times and 17 Final Fours. They draw Vermont who has all of two NCAA Tournament wins in their history. But Vermont has 28 wins this season and has only one loss in 2024 and that was by two points.

When James Madison beat Michigan State in the season opener, it was a wake-up call for Spartan fans that the season wasn’t going to be smooth. Well, JMU started 14-0 and finished 31-3 and still didn’t win the Sun Belt Conference regular season title. (App State did). JMU won the automatic bid in the conference tournament and is the 12 seed and get another Big Ten powerhouse, Wisconsin, in the first round. Wisconsin is just 6-9 in their last 15 games.

Two seed Marquette has faced U. Conn three times and lost all three. They get Western Kentucky in Round One. The Hilltoppers are back in the Big Dance for the first time since 2013 after winning the Conference USA Tournament.

The 8/9 game is a battle of the Big Ten and SEC. Nebraska led the Big Ten by attempting 25 threes a game. Texas A&M finished seventh in the SEC and is led by Wade Taylor and his 18.9 points per game.

Born and raised in Louisiana, Darren Cooper has a fond appreciation for bayous, Mardi Gras beads and the sports betting industry. Darren has worked for multiple print and online publications since 1998, primarily as a sports columnist in the Northeast. He’s covered a Super Bowl (it was a blowout), the World Series (same) and the NBA Draft (man, those guys are tall). For the last few years he’s dug deep into the sports gambling industry as it exploded across America, learning how the legal sausage is made and how while all the sportsbooks look the same, they all have different identities and styles. He’s learned to always bet within his means -- and take the under. When not in front of his computer creating, Darren spends time with his three boys. He runs, reads and is always looking for the next big thing to write about.