Monday, March 18, 2013

March Madness Breakdown: South Region

Shabazz Muhammad will seal a trip to the NBA in the tournament
Top Seeds

1 - Kansas
2 - Georgetown
3 - Florida
4 - Michigan

The Rest

5 - Virginia Commonwealth
6 - UCLA
7 - San Diego State
8 - North Carolina
9 - Villanova
10 - Oklahoma
11 - Minnesota
12 - Arkansas
13 - South Dakota State
14 - Northwestern State
15 - Florida Gulf Coast
16 - LIU Brooklyn/James Madison

The South region is full of enigmatic teams. Kansas won their 9th consecutive Big 12 conference title but not without dropping three games in a row to Oklahoma State, TCU and Oklahoma marking the first time since 2005-2006 Kansas had lost three games in a row. As well as a 23 point loss to NIT bound Baylor. However, freshman guard Ben McLemore is a dynamic scorer(and fantastic dancer) and in contention for the #1 pick in the upcoming NBA draft.  Talent almost always trumps everything else in the tournament and Kansas has that in spades.

Georgetown has been the most consistent of the top four teams but has a few ugly losses on the season including a 28 point home loss to Pittsburgh and losing to a South Florida team that had three wins in the Big East. Another defensive stalwart the Hoyas rank 9th in the country in points allowed per game. Otto Porter Jr. adds an offensive flare that will create matchup issues for anyone. Now that teams are keying on his scoring prowess, Porter has upped his assist total to nearly 4 assists per game over the last six games compared to 2.5 assists per game on the year.

Florida has looked dominate at times with average scoring margin second in the NCAA at almost 18 points per game. The problem for the Gators has been close games. Only their road loss at Arkansas was more than a two score game under the last minute of the game and the Gators lost all six contests. Inevitably Florida will have to survive a close game if it hopes to advance to the fourth Final Four under Billy Donovan. Fortunately the Gators have the talent to dominate and extend leads so they won’t find themselves in any close games.

Michigan is another team that has not lost outside of conference play in the rugged Big Ten. However one of those losses was a mind boggling lost at Penn State which has only one other conference win. Michigan’s roster boosts at least four NBA caliper players led by National Player of the Year candidate guard Trey Burke. Glenn Robinson III and Tim Hardaway Jr are gunners and can score from anywhere on the floor and powerful freshman Mitch McGary leads the team in rebounding. The Wolverines struggle against stout defensive teams, four of their six losses have come against teams at the top scoring defenses in the country (Wisconsin(twice), Ohio St. and Michigan St.)

Don’t sleep on the Minnesota v. UCLA winner. Both teams fall into the enigmatic designation prevalent by the top seeds in the region. Minnesota has several quality wins(Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan St.) along with several bad losses(Nebraska, Northwestern,Purdue) but has the talent to compete with any team if they stay focused. Similar sentiments for UCLA with three wins against Arizona, but also lost to USC and Cal Poly. UCLA also has a talented roster with potential NBA players Shabazz Muhammad and Kyle Anderson(both freshman).

The Picks

Sweet Sixteen: Michigan over Kansas, Florida over Georgetown

Elite Eight: Florida over Michigan

Until next time, Beers, Brats, and Championships.

Neal Olson (

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