Courtesy of NBC College Sports Talk
Yesterday, we looked at the Midwest Region game by game. Today, we will look at the other three regions, beginning with the South:
On the right side of the bracket, Kansas takes the one seed as they play the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (one of the best names in the bracket), and while I don’t think the Jayhawks will cover the obscenely high spread (+20 for those gambling at home), they should take this one with ease. In the 8-9 match-up, I look for the Tar Heels of UNC to beat the incredibly hot Villanova Wildcats. The Tar Heels played Miami extremely close the entire game in the ACC Tournament and have been playing much better basketball as of late. Combining that with Villanova’s extreme difficulty winning outside of Pennsylvania and you get the potential for Roy Williams to face his old team in the next round.
The next game pits two extremely talented mid-major squads in VCU and Akron against each other. While VCU has been on the upswing as of late, Akron just lost their star point guard Alex Abreu to suspension. That loss will really set the Zips back as the Rams should cruise to victory in this one. In the last game in this pod, we have the Michigan Wolverines playing the South Dakota State Jackrabbits (clearly the best name in the field). The Jackrabbits have the best scorer in the country (Nate Wolters and his more than 22 points per game), but have no interior defense and no perimeter defense as well. Trey Burke and the combination of Mitch McGary, Nik Stauskas, and Glenn Robinson III will eat the Jackrabbits alive on the offensive end. This game is also being played in Auburn Hills, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit, and will be a home game for a team that travels well regardless.
In the bottom half of the South Region, I open up my picks with an upset. Minnesota has looked awful of late, but have copious amounts of talent. Despite being 5-11 since their 15-1 start, Trevor Mbakwe and the two Hollins’ will be able to pull it together for a game against a short-handed UCLA squad (they just lost Jordan Adams to a broken foot in the Pac-12 tournament). Despite Tubby Smith’s inability to coach, the Gophers should advance here. In the next game, Florida is going to do what Florida does, blow teams out. Florida beat fellow three-seed Marquette by 33, and should lay waste to an over-matched Northwestern State team.
In the last two games of the region, I’m taking another upset with Oklahoma beating the seventh seeded San Diego State. This game all comes down to Jamaal Franklin. Franklin leads the Aztecs in points, rebounds, assists, and steals. If he is in foul trouble, they are done. On the other side of the coin, Oklahoma is incredibly deep and is anchored by the steady play of point guard Sam Grooms. I’ll take this upset pick as Oklahoma has shown they can hang with elite talent by beating a similarly uni-faceted team in Oklahoma State. In the final game of the region, I’m taking Georgetown over Florida Gulf Coast. Sure Georgetown has struggled in the past against double-digit seeds (NC State last year, an 11-seed, VCU the year before, also an 11-seed, and Ohio the year before that, a 14-seed), I still think they will beat a Florida Gulf Coast team that beat Miami earlier this year.
Recap: Kansas, Georgetown, Florida, Michigan, VCU, UNC, Oklahoma, and Minnesota advance while UCLA and San Diego State are upset.