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NCAA tournament preview: South Regional

A look at the NCAA tournament’s West Regional:

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FRIDAY :: Charlotte, N.C.

1 Virginia (31-2, ACC champion)

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vs. 16 UMBC (24-10, American East champion)

Guards Kyle Guy, Devon Hall and Ty Jerome led Virginia to school-record wins. Senior guard Jarius Lyles averages 20.2 points for UMBC, which makes 38.5% of its threes

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8 Creighton (21-11, at-large)

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vs. 9 Kansas State (22-11, at-large)

Senior guard Marcus Foster averages 20.3 points a game, junior guard Khyri Thomas 15.5 for Creighton. Junior forward Dean Wade helped lead Kansas State to its most wins since the 2012-13 season.

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THURSDAY :: Boise, Idaho

5 Kentucky (24-10, SEC champion)

vs. 12 Davidson (21-11, Atlantic 10 champion)

Kentucky features frosh guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who averages 13.9 points. Davidson senior forward Peyton Aldridge (21.8 ppg) gets help from frosh guard Kellan Grady (18.1 ppg).

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4 Arizona (27-7, Pac-12 champion)

vs. 13 Buffalo (26-8, MAC champion)

Arizona won only NCAA title in 1997. Star freshman Deandre Ayton and junior Allonzo Trier could help end the drought. Junior guard C.J. Massinburg averages 17.4 points for Buffalo.

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THURSDAY :: Dallas

6 Miami (22-9, at-large)

vs. 11 Loyola Chicago (28-5, Missouri Valley champion)

Freshman guard Lonnie Walker averages 11.5 points for Miami. Loyola Chicago earned first berth in 33 years behind senior guard Donte Ingram, who averages 11.6 points.

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3 Tennessee (25-8, at-large)

vs. 14 Wright State (25-9, Horizon champion)

Tennessee comes into matchup after losing to Kentucky in the SEC tournament final. Freshman Loudon Love averages 12.9 points and 9.8 rebounds for Wright State, which set a school record for victories.

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FRIDAY :: Nashville

7 Nevada (27-7, at-large)

vs. 10 Texas (19-14, at-large)

Caleb Martin averages 19.1 points and 6.3 rebounds for Nevada. A Texas run could depend on the condition of freshman forward Mohamed Bamba and his injured toe.

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2 Cincinnati (30-4, American Athletic champ)

vs. 15 Georgia State (24-10, Sun Belt champion).

Bearcats senior Gary Clark averages 12.8 points and 8.4 rebounds and was conference defensive player of the year. D’Marcus Simonds averages 20.9 points for underdogs.

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Top Seeds

[ 1 VIRGINIA ] Before the season, coach Tony Bennett’s team was not regarded as one of the five best in the Atlantic Coast Conference, but the Cavaliers are the top seed in the tournament.

[ 2 CINCINNATI ] The Bearcats play hard-nosed defense under coach Mick Cronin. They are second nationally in scoring defense, and their only losses were against NCAA tournament teams.

[ 3 TENNESSEE ] Coach Rick Barnes is making his 23rd appearance in the NCAA tournament, his first since Tennessee hired him after the 2015 season.

[ 4 ARIZONA ] The Wildcats, specifically coach Sean Miller, have been embroiled in controversy but finished NCAA tournament run-up with a flourish by winning the Pac-12 tournament.

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Cinderella search

With apologies to Georgia State, which pulled off a Cinderella victory over Baylor in 2015, the nod goes to sharp-shooting Buffalo, which plays Arizona in the opening round.

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Top players

Deandre Ayton, forward, Arizona

At 7 feet 1, Ayton dominated the Pac-12 tournament, scoring 32 points against UCLA and 32 in the championship game against USC. He averaged 20.3 points and 11.5 rebounds this season.

Kyle Guy, guard, Virginia

A former Mr. Basketball in Indiana, the 6-foot-2 guard averaged 14.1 points a game and helped lead the balanced and defense-minded Cavaliers to the ACC title.

Caleb Martin, forward, Nevada

The 6-7 junior, a transfer from North Carolina State, was voted Mountain West Conference player and newcomer of the year. He averaged 19.1 points a game.

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Rim shots

• Maryland Baltimore County is in the tournament for the first time since 2008 after defeating Vermont to win the America East tournament.

• Davidson, which plays Kentucky in the first round, has not won an NCAA tournament game since 2008, when Stephen Curry led the Wildcats to the Elite Eight.

• Loyola Chicago is 28-5. That is the second-highest victory total in school history. The Ramblers won 29 games in 1963 when they won the NCAA title.

• Wright State, located outside Dayton, Ohio, opened in 1964 and was named for aviation pioneers Orville and Wilbur Wright. This is its third NCAA tourney.


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