Tuesday, March 13, 2012

2012 March Madness - South Region (First Weekend)

The South Region seems to be considered the strongest region in the NCAA Tournament. It features dominating Kentucky, the defending national champions Connecticut, last year's Final Four Cinderella VCU, resurgent programs like UNLV and Indiana, as well as Notre Dame and Duke. That list doesn't even include perhaps the best mid-major team in college basketball Wichita State. Some matchups could be set up after this weekend that will create nostalgia for fans from the 90's or the new kids on the block could crash the party.

Best Game: #5 Wichita State vs. #12 VCU

Fans seem to get upset when mid-majors are paired against each other in the tournament. I don't really understand that, it just shows the committee is looking at them as a regular team, as opposed to focusing on their mid major status. Wichita State and VCU will be new to most casual fans, but once they see them play they will see that both these teams are very good. The Shockers are thought to be a tough out because of their big man, senior C Garrett Stutz. However, Stutz averages just 24 minutes per game, so its important for the Shockers that senior G Joe Ragland plays at his usual high level. He will have his work cut out for him going up against VCU's vaunted press, known as Havoc defense. VCU has the size to match up with Stutz in Juvonte Reddic and their lone senior Bradford Burgess has been playing his best basketball of the season as of late.

Player to Watch: Kentucky forward Anthony Davis

Davis is likely to be named the NCAA Player of the Year in a few weeks. He led Kentucky in scoring, shooting an astounding 64% and a very strong 70% from the line. He was also their leading rebounder and comes in to the tournament with double doubles in his last four games. Despite his strong play he might be more famous for his unibrow. Not sure why he chooses to keep it but expect many new fans to be telling you all about that big guy on Kentucky with a single eyebrow.

Best Potential Game: #1 Kentucky vs. #9 Connecticut

This year's favorite versus last year's champion? Calipari versus Calhoun? Doron Lamb versus Jeremy Lamb? Sign me up please. If the Huskies can get past Iowa State it would set up a tantalizing Third Round matchup with Kentucky. The Huskies have been inconsistent all season and on paper wouldn't appear to have much of a chance. However, you can never count out a Jim Calhoun coached team, and the Huskies will not lose out on the chance to defend their title without a fight.

Lowest Seed to Make It Through Weekend: #7 Notre Dame

I am not that sold on Notre Dame, which in recent years has underperformed in the NCAA Tournament. Them making it to the Sweet Sixteen will be more a byproduct of their draw. Xavier has been streaky and inconsistent all season, and Duke might be without Ryan Kelly and seems susceptible to a first weekend upset. Player to watch on the Irish is F Jack Cooley who became the team leader when Tim Abromaitis was lost for the season due to injury.


First Round

#16 Western Kentucky over #16 Mississippi Valley State

Second Round

#1 Kentucky over #16 Western Kentucky

#9 Connecticut over #8 Iowa State

#5 Wichita State over #12 VCU

#4 Indiana over #13 Montana

#6 UNLV over #11 Colorado

#3 Baylor over #14 South Dakota State

#7 Notre Dame over #10 Xavier

#2 Duke over #15 Lehigh

Third Round

#1 Kentucky over #9 Connecticut

#5 Wichita State over #4 Indiana

#3 Baylor over #6 UNLV

#7 Notre Dame over #2 Duke

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