March Madness 2018: South Region stats, upsets, sleepers that will decide the bracket

Four-star forward Romeo Weems is headed to Chicago.

As expected, the road to the Final Four in the South Region will head through the No. 1 overall seed Virginia Cavaliers. But the Cavs hardly have a cakewalk to San Antonio, as several tough teams, including traditional powers Cincinnati, Arizona and Kentucky, stand in the way.

NCAA bracket: South region

No. 1 seed Virginia's earliest threat

If Arizona and Kentucky win their openers over underdogs Buffalo and Davidson, respectively, they would play in the Round of 32. That sets up a potential meeting between Virginia and one of those teams in the Sweet Sixteen. That's a pretty stiff challenge for the No. 1 overall seed to face so early. Arizona is a popular darkhorse candidate to win it all. Kentucky has had a down year — by its standards anyway — but who would ever want to face that team in their third tournament game?

The most eye-popping stat

31-2: The Virginia Cavaliers' overall record this season is remarkable, coming out of the brutal ACC. And their one-loss ACC regular season (17-1) is something that hasn't happened in almost 20 years. Consider this: The Maryland Terrapins were the last team to post only one loss in the ACC regular season, going 13-1 in 2001-02. They won the national championship that year.

The most overrated seed

No. 3 Tennessee: The Volunteers' 6-6 Q1 mark is not that exciting, but it's relatively the same as the other three No. 3 seeds Michigan (6-5), Michigan State (3-4) and Texas Tech (7-7). There's a terrible tendency in Bracketology to underrate teams that don't have a name brand, and compared to Michigan and Michigan State's legacy of NCAA Tournament success, the Vols haven't done much in the tournament in recent years, with only one appearance in the past six seasons.

The most dangerous sleeper

No. 4 Arizona: 7-1 freshman Deandre Ayton is arguably the best player in the country, the kind of dominating player who can carry a team by himself deep into the tournament, but he's hardly alone on the offensive end for the Wildcats. Guard Allonzo Trier has struggled lately from 3-point territory (6 of 30 in his last five games), but he can score in bunches when he's hot. Guard Rawle Alkins (13.4 ppg) and center Dusan Ristic can also step up with big games. Coach Sean Miller and the program have faced plenty of questions in the aftermath of a recent report alleging recruiting misconduct, but the Wildcats have won eight out of their last nine, so that drama hasn't leaked onto the court.

The first-round upset alert

No. 11 Loyola-Chicago over No. 6 Miami (Fla.): The Ramblers are making their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1985, and they could pull a surprise in the first round over the Miami Hurricanes of the ACC. Loyola is balanced — five players score in double figures, led by junior guard Clayton Custer (13.4 ppg). They're also experienced, with four upperclassmen among that quintet of players that rank No. 41 on KenPom. As for Miami, since opening the season 12-1, the Canes have gone 10-8, and looked flat in their last game, a 82-65 loss to North Carolina in the ACC Tournament.

The Final Four pick

No. 1 Virginia: The trendy pick here is No. 4 Arizona and superstar freshman Deandre Ayton advancing to San Antonio. But the Cavs are balanced, deep and well coached by Tony Bennett. Their 12-1 mark against Q1 teams is remarkable. If there is a concern, it is that the Cavs don’t have that standout, take-charge guy to take over at crunch time, ala Marvin Bagley III of Duke or Arizona's Ayton. Still, the Cavs are the best bet to advance out of what might be the weakest bracket.