Previewing the Bracket: South Region

We are going region by region looking at the Thursday/Friday matchups and talking about some of the main storylines and what you can expect from the region as a whole.

Tonight we continue with the South Region.

The Matchups:

#1 Florida (KP Ranks - Ovr: 3, Off: 17, Def: 5) vs #16 Albany (Ovr: 176, Off: 222, Def: 135)

Thursday 3/20 approx 3:10pm CDT in Orlando, FL

Albany played pretty well on Tuesday, but the level of competition was nowhere near what they will see on Thursday against Florida.  Florida should roll through this one pretty easily.

#8 Colorado (Ovr: 63, Off: 147, Def: 35) vs #9 Pittsburgh (Ovr: 16, Off: 18, Def: 34)

Thursday 3/20 12:40pm CDT in Orlando, FL

I think the lack of marquee wins throughout the year was a narrative that got carried a bit too far.  Pittsburgh appears to be the better team here, and Colorado without Dinwiddie is a team I'm not sure I can trust.

#5 VCU (Ovr: 12, Off: 108, Def: 2) vs #12 Stephen F Austin (Ovr: 55, Off: 45, Def: 89)

Friday 3/21 6:27pm CDT in San Diego, CA

Stephen F Austin has a slightly better offense, but VCU has a phenominal defense.  I know SFA is a trendy upset pick, but I just don't know that I see them translating their stockpiled wins against low-quality opponents into an upset of the second best defense in the nation.  If SFA can get up early, they VCU doesn't necessarily have the offense to come back on them though.  Should be a good matchup to watch.

#4 UCLA (Ovr: 18, Off: 14, Def: 50) vs #13 Tulsa (Ovr: 65, Off: 162, Def: 26)

Thursday 3/21 approx 8:57pm CDT in San Diego, CA

I'd love nothing better than to pick Danny Manning in his NCAA debut to upset the Bruins, and the more I look at it, the more I'm digging this pick. Sure, UCLA beat Arizona over the weekend, but the UCLA team I've seen is very inconsistent, so while everything points to a UCLA win, I wouldn't be shocked at all if Tulsa pulls the upset.  Please note, I'M NOT SAYING THAT TULSA WILL WIN.....  just that you aren't absolutely crazy if you do.

#6 Ohio State (Ovr: 20, Off: 123, Def: 4) vs #11 Dayton (Ovr: 51, Off: 32, Def: 103)

Friday 3/21 11:15am CDT in Buffalo, NY

The numbers tell me that I should be picking Ohio State here, but I've seen the supposed 4th best defense in the nation give up plenty of points to mediocre offenses, and the offense just looks flat out incompetent at times.  Dayton, on the other hand, is on a hot streak, and I see this as an upset ripe for the taking.

#3 Syracuse (Ovr: 14, Off: 34, Def: 17) vs #14 Western Michigan (Ovr: 112, Off: 130, Def: 121)

Friday 3/21 approx 1:45pm CDT in Buffalo, NY

I work with a guy who graduated from Western Michigan, and he tells me that there is absolutely no chance that they can pull the upset. Of course, we all know this means that Syracuse will in fact win, but it will be on a last second floater to go up 65-64.

#7 New Mexico (Ovr: 27, Off: 38, Def: 38) vs #10 Stanford (Ovr: 36, Off: 39, Def: 59)

Friday 3/21 12:40pm CDT in St. Louis, MO

My selfish nature has me leaning to Stanford, because I'd much rather face them in the next round, but while they look to be a fairly solid 10 seed, New Mexico looks like a dangerous 7 seed.  I just don't see how Stanford pulls off that upset.

#2 Kansas (Ovr: 8, Off: 6, Def: 45) vs #15 Eastern Kentucky (Ovr: 124, Off: 47, Def: 235)

Friday 3/21 approx 3:10am CDT in St. Louis, MO

I've heard way too many people talk up Eastern Kentucky, and it comes off to me as worrying way too much about one small aspect of the game that isn't likely to make that much of a difference.  I just don't see how this one is that close.



Most Likely First-Game Upset: #11 Dayton over #6 Ohio State
I pretty much covered this one above, but I just can't get too excited about an Ohio State team that has looked downright awful against mediocre Big 10 teams this year.


Low-Seeded (Outside Top 4) Runner: #9 Pittsburgh
As I mentioned above, I think Pittsburgh has been over-penalized for the fact that they had so few "spectacular" wins, but they still play solid ball, and really grade out in the 4-6 range instead of the 8-9 game.  While I'm not picking them to beat Florida, they are one of the few that have a good chance to get an upset to get into the second weekend.


Final Four Pick: Kansas over Florida
Call me a homer, unrealistic, stupid, or anything else that you feel like for this pick, but I think that KU will squeak into the second weekend.  When Embiid comes back next weekend, that completely changes the outlook for their tournament.  Sure Florida already beat KU once, but that was when Embiid still wasn't playing well at all, we were in the middle of a long road trip with a team with no confidence, and Florida had a full contingent of players that were playing pretty much to their peak.  When they meet up in the Elite Eight, expect a back-and-forth affair that ends in a lot of excitement.
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