Wednesday, March 20, 2013

2013 March Madness - South Region (First Weekend)

The South is arguably the most star studded and toughest of the four regions in the NCAA Tournament. Many of the schools have Final Four pedigree, including new media darling, #5 seed VCU. My favorite team, the North Carolina Tar Heels were unfairly slotted as an 8 seed and because of that, would draw Kansas in the Third Round if the Heels can get past Villanova. Kansas and Bill Self are 2-0 against Roy Williams in the NCAA Tournament, including knocking out Carolina in the Elite Eight last season. The region also includes Player of the Year candidates, like Michigan guard Trey Burke and Georgetown forward Otto Porter. Come Sunday, I suspect that the South region will be most responsible for people's busted brackets.

Best Game: #2 Georgetown vs. #15 Florida Gulf Coast

Yes, I think this matchup will be the best game in the Second Round in the South. Florida Gulf Coast already beat a 2 seed once this season, back in November when they knocked off Miami. Florida Gulf Coast ranks in the Top 100 in scoring (49th), rebounds (87th), assists (92nd) and field goal percentage (49th). Their best player is senior guard Sherwood Brown, who at 6'4 also led the Eagles in rebounds. The job of trying to slow down Otto Porter will likely go to Chase Fieler, who for whatever reason doesn't rebound well, but does a good job at blocking shots. Porter has been lauded all season long for his amazing play. He does almost everything well, he can play inside, hit his shots from outside, including three point land, and plays tough defense. The Hoyas other main scoring threats are Markel Starks and Greg Whittington. The only chance the Eagles will have to pull the upset is if they can contain Porter. The Hoyas size will pose a problem, but the Canes are also a big team and the Eagles were able to defeat them. I just feel this Hoyas team is overrated, and in recent years have been prone to laying eggs in the tournament. The quickness of the Eagles guards will give the Hoyas defense fits and and produce the biggest shocker of this year's tournament.

Player to Watch: North Carolina guard P.J. Hairston

You can probably argue that this is a homer pick and you might be right. As I mentioned above the South region is filled with star power, but one of the hottest players in the game right now is P.J. Hairston. If you caught the ACC Tournament final, you saw Hairston put on a shooting clinic, especially from three point land. Ever since Hairston earned consistent minutes he has been the Heels most dangerous player. If Carolina is to survive this weekend, and pull off a major upset of Kansas, Hairston will have to continue to play at that high level.

Best Potential Game: #1 Kansas vs. #8 North Carolina

This is one of those games the committee just "happens" to set up. Carolina being an 8 seed with an RPI of 17 makes no sense, but maybe they just really wanted to see Roy vs. Kansas, Part 3. Carolina fans still have a bitter taste in their mouths from last year's Elite Eight loss to the Jayhawks. Had Kendall Marshall played myself and many others believe that Carolina would have won that game. Save for one poor week, the Jayhawks have been one of the best teams in the country. They are led by outstanding freshman guard Ben McLemore, and big man Jeff Withey. It would be fun to watch Withey do battle with James Michael McAdoo, and the contrast of Jayhawks senior guard Elijah Johnsons, versus Carolina freshman Marcus Paige. These two teams both play a run and gun style, so the points would pour in. Add in the whole revenge element, and two storied programs and you have all the makings of a great game.

Lowest Seed to Make It Through Weekend: #10 Oklahoma

Lon Kruger has quietly done a quality job of rebuilding the Sooner program after the mess Dookie Jeff Capel left them in. The Sooners did have some puzzling losses, blowing a big lead to Texas and losing at TCU, but did knock off Kansas. If the Sooners get to the Sweet Sixteen it will be on the back of senior forward Romero Osby. I like the Sooners to beat the Aztecs from the overrated Mountain West, and then benefit from Florida Gulf Coast's upset of Georgetown and pick up a win against the Eagles. So basically a fortunate draw will help Oklahoma this week.


Second Round

#1 Kansas over #16 Western Kentucky

#8 North Carolina over #9 Villanova

#5 VCU over #12 Akron

#4 Michigan over #13 South Dakota State

#6 UCLA over #11 Minnesota

#3 Florida over #14 Northwestern State

#10 Oklahoma over #7 San Diego State

#15 Florida Gulf Coast over #2 Georgetown

Third Round 

#8 North Carolina over #1 Kansas

#4 Michigan over #5 VCU

#3 Florida over #6 UCLA

#10 Oklahoma over #15 Florida Gulf Coast

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