Virginia is strongest in the weakest region

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 10: The Virginia Cavaliers celebrate after defeating the North Carolina Tar Heels 71-63 during the championship game of the 2018 ACC Men's Basketball Tournament at Barclays Center on March 10, 2018 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
Abbie Parr/Getty Images
Virginia (31-2) opens the NCAA Tournament on Friday against America East champion Maryland-Baltimore County.

This is the weakest region, which is justified since Virginia is the top seed. The Cavaliers, the best defensive team in the country by far, will coast to the Sweet 16, where they will face Arizona. The Wildcats have had a season plagued by uncertainty including accusations of illegal recruiting. They still won the Pac-12 regular-season title and tournament. That will probably be Virginia’s biggest obstacle on the way to the Final Four. It’s difficult to come up with upset possibilities. The bottom of the bracket is just kind of ordinary. You’d take No. 2 seed Cincinnati in a wrestling match, but there are no points for takedowns in this game. Nevada and Cincy will be an interesting second-round matchup, but eventually the Wolfpack will yield to the Bearcats’ sheer force of will. I think the same will be true for Tennessee. The Vols are one of this season’s biggest overachievers but do not have the skill to beat Cincy. A Cincinnati-Virginia regional final might be tough to watch. Maybe they bill it as a cage match.

Upset Special: Loyola of Chicago over Miami.

Sweet 16: Virginia, Arizona, Tennessee, Cincinnati.


Regional champion: Virginia

Joe Sullivan can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @GlobeSullivan