After all of the madness, we are down to the top four seeds in the South Region. This regional bracket was full of great moments in the first weekend despite all four favorites moving forward. Wichita State pushed Kentucky to the brink, Middle Tennessee stormed to take down Minnesota and Arkansas gave the Tar Heels all they could handle. Looking forward we have four fantastic offenses in this region, making for a fun weekend of up-tempo basketball – and some great previews here from our FastModel team!
#1 North Carolina vs. #4 Butler
The Tar Heels under Roy Williams have been known for their high-flying offense. Williams’ recruits have always combined size, athleticism and ball handling, making his sets all the more lethal. Carolina wants to get out and run, pushing the pace in transition or settling into their multitude of wonderful Early Offense sets. Our own contributor Gibson Pyper has done an incredibly thorough look at the Early Offense and all its options. The most common, and the staple of their attack, is a back screen action for a big man out of semi-transition.
The Bulldogs start three players at 6’7” or above, and because of that they will pound the ball inside when they have an advantage down low. Carolina’s size might neutralize some of that attack, but Butler can’t completely abandon who they are. Coach Chris Holtmann has frequently run a nice ball screen- post-up set to get the ball inside, especially for wing Andrew Chrabascz.
#2 Kentucky vs. #3 UCLA
A rematch of one of the most exciting games of the regular season pits the high-powered offense of UCLA against the athleticism and dribble-drive attack of John Calipari’s Kentucky Wildcats. The Bruins got the better of Kentucky on UK’s home court, 97-92, while six Bruins went in double-figures and they were able to hold off the hot shooting of Malik Monk. Both teams have improved their weaknesses since the first meeting, which should make for an even more impressive bout in the Sweet Sixteen with their seasons on the line.
For Kentucky’s offense, teams have struggled to keep De’Aaron Fox out of the lane or prevent Malik Monk from getting his shot off when coming off screens. Monk is such a threat from three that Kentucky utilizes frequent sets for him as a shooter to come off screens on either side of the court. Their “Runner” sets can get Monk open off baseline staggers, single screens, or be used as a post-up action to throw the ball inside to one of their screeners.
Likewise, the Bruins are best playing through superb freshman Lonzo Ball and letting him create for others off the bounce or in transition. Structure is still necessary though, and like the Wildcats they run a lot of great actions for shooters. Unlike most teams they face, the Bruins have big men that are high percentage shooters from the mid-range. They run this Floppy action frequently, getting a big man to raise into the mid-range when the shooter comes off the action and drives baseline.