With so much depth in the 2018 men's NCAA basketball tournament, the regions are difficult for the top-two seeds. 

And the South region may be the most difficult. 

When Arizona, a team that won its regular season and conference title in a power-five conference, is the fourth seed, and Kentucky is on the fifth-seed line, the top-seeds should be on high alert. 

Who's going to make it to the second weekend? Here's the best sleepers and upset alerts in the South region. 

Best Sleeper


Before the announcement of Bruce Brown's season-ending notice, I really liked Miami. That puts a damper on the Hurricanes, so I'll back Loyola-Chicago, which can put the clamps down on most teams on the defensive side of the ball. 

Because of Brown's injury, I'll take a defensive-minded Ramblers over a Miami team that has plenty of athleticism. That would set up a likely matchup with Tennessee, which offensively isn't that attractive. The Volunteers rely mostly on defense, so I like my chances with Loyola. 

As an 11th seed, the matchups aren't too daunting for Loyola, until a pending matchup with Cincinnati. The Bearcats match up too well with Loyola, so the Ramblers should make the Sweet 16, before bowing out of the tournament. 

First-round upsets?

Loyola-Chicago over Miami

See above. The loss of Brown on a permanent basis will be too much for Miami to overcome. Loyola can play and they'll show it here. This is the only upset lock (seed-wise) I'm picking for this region.  

Texas vs. Nevada

I'm kind of pulling for Nevada in this one, based on a potential matchup with Cincinnati. This side of the bracket screams for the Bearcats to reach the Elite Eight based on the lack of any offensive firepower. 

But in this game, I am concerned with the Wolfpack's ineptitude on the defensive end. 

The Longhorns aren't good on offense, but they can play enough defense to be competitive. Nevada refuses to play defense, but has a top-10 offense in efficiency. 

Of all the matchups in this region, this makes the most sense as an upset outside of the Loyola-Miami matchup. Do I believe it will happen? Not necessarily. 

But Nevada should be on a semi-upset alert. 

Best first-round picks

Loyola (+3) vs. Miami

Once again, see above. — Go Against The Chalk with Loyola

Nevada (+1) vs. Texas

Based on seed, the Wolfpack are technically on upset alert. Oddsmakers are pegging Nevada as the underdog, which shouldn't be the case. 

Most people are looking at this matchup like I did. Texas is from a power conference and plays some defense, while the Wolfpack lost big in their conference tournament and don't play any defense. 

Nevada should be concerned with this matchup, but not to the point of being an actual underdog. This is an overreaction from the public. The Wolfpack are elite in a specific function of basketball. The Longhorns are not. 

As I mentioned earlier, the Wolfpack should be on semi-upset alert, but they should still be the favorites. Take the value. — Go Against The Chalk with Nevada

Cincinnati (-14) vs. Georgia State

The Bearcats are getting great value in this position based on the premise they can't score. 

That's not totally inaccurate, but Cincinnati is so good defensively, I don't see Georgia State scoring enough to be within 20 points. 

Cincinnati is the No. 1 team in the country in defensive efficiency. They are smothering, and that should be a concern for a Georgia State team that isn't necessarily an offensive firepower. 

This is a mismatch, but people are giving Georgia State some credit based on its upset a few years ago in the tournament. Don't fall into that trap. Cincinnati has one of the easiest roads to the Elite Eight, so book the Bearcats big in the first round. — Go Chalk with Cincinnati 

Scott Levine is the Associate Editor for the Clinton Herald. During his free time, he blogs about fantasy sports and handicaps games. His Against The Chalk blog has earned him back-to-back Iowa Newspaper Association awards for Best Blog. Check out more at Against The Chalk.

Scott Levine can be reached at scottlevine@clintonherald.com or on Twitter @ScottLevineCH

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