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Breaking Down The NCAA Bracket: Southwest Regional

Final_four_mediumSouthwest Regional General Information:

Regional Site: San Antonio, Texas - Alamodome

Conference Tournament Champions:  6

At Large Teams:  10 (11 if you count VCU)

Power Conference Teams:  10

Mid Majors:  6 (7 with VCU)

Pods: (Dayton), Tulsa, Denver, Chicago

Interesting Facts: 

  • Jay Bilas properly eviscerated the committee yesterday, but VCU in this field over Colorado is indefensible. And that's likely why Gene Smith couldn't defend it yesterday.
  • Kansas has the longest active streak of tournament appearances, now at 22.
  • Louisville coach Rick Pitino is the only coach to have taken 3 different schools to the Final Four.
  • At the 2007 Final Four, Purdue alums were saying that Bill Self didn't have what it took to make a Final Four. Among other things, I loudly retorted that they were ones to talk, considering they were depending on Matt Painter to take them there. Matt Painter was 2 feet away. Here's to hoping he doesn't exact his revenge this year.

Team Capsules

#1 Seed Kansas Jayhawks

Kansas-jayhawks1_mediumBid: Automatic, Big XII

Location: Lawrence, KS

Record: 32-2

KenPom Adj. Offensive Efficiency: 4

KenPom Adj. Defensive Efficiency: 12

Key Offensive Stat: eFG% (1)

Key Defensive Stat: 3P% (7)

Player to Know: Marcus Morris

Kanses enters as the Big XII season and tournament champion. Many believe this is the most talented team in the country. Few consider them the most trustworthy.  This is their 40th tournament appearance, and 22nd in a row. It is their 10th time as a #1 seed. In short, they've been down this road before and they now what to do. Now, they need to do it.  I can't say that I mind them going through San Antonio...

#2 Seed Notre Dame Fighting Irish


Bid: At-Large

Location: South Bend, IN

Record: 26-6

KenPom Adj. Offensive Efficiency: 3

KenPom Adj. Defensive Efficiency: 62

Key Offensive Stat: Turnover % (13)

Key Defensive Stat: FTA/FGA (4)

Player to Know: Ben Hansbrough (and believe me, with that last name, you WILL hear about him)

Without much (any?) fanfare at season's outset, Notre Dame climbed all the way into the discussion for a #1 seed. And if Duke had lost yesterday, they may have secured one. Instead, they'll be a chic pick for those "not going chalk," and going out on a limb with a 2 seed, assuming they can get past a tough Purdue team (too bad that's not in Chicago). Digger Phelps can hardly control himself.

#3 Seed Purdue Boilermakers


 Bid: At Large

Location: West Lafayette, IN

Record: 25-7

KenPom Adj. Offensive Efficiency: 18

KenPom Adj. Defensive Efficiency: 8

Key Offensive Stat: TO% (6)

Key Defensive Stat: Opp. eFG% (37)

Player to Know: JaJuan Johnson (apologies to the frightening E'Twaun Moore)

My history with Matt Pinter aside, he was on my short list of COY candidates until the late losses to Iowa and Mich State. Which only adds fuel to my fire, because I would MUCH rather have Florida as the 3 here and Purdue on the 2 line down in the Southeast.  But them's the breaks. A deep team they are not, but they will guard the hell out of you and if Johnson and Moore are on, you're in serius trouble, as there may not be a better inside/outside duo in the country.

#4 Seed Lousiville Cardinals


Bid: At Large 

Location: Louisville, KY

Record: 25-9

KenPom Adj. Offensive Efficiency:36

KenPom Adj. Defensive Efficiency:5

Key Offensive Stat: eFG% (35)

Key Defensive Stat: eFG% (13)

Player to Know: Peyton Siva

Louisville makes for the second Big East over-achiever in this regional. Pretty much the Missouri of the Big East. Similar style, similar players, similar road struggles. MUCH better coach. Never count Pitino out in March and if you want a good reason, I suggest you start with his 9-0 Sweet 16 record.

#5 Seed Vanderbilt Commodores

Vanderbilt_mediumBid: At Large 

Location:  Nashville, TN

Record: 23-10

KenPom Adj. Offensive Efficiency: 15

KenPom Adj. Defensive Efficiency:76

Key Offensive Stat: eFG% (31)

Key Defensive Stat: FTA/FGA (21)

Player to Know: John Jenkins

The first over-seeded team in this region. To me, Vandy felt a whole lote more like a 6 or 7, a perfectly "good" team, but not able to compete at the highest level. They'll have an extremely tough time getting out of Tulsa, first with Richmond and then either Lousiville or Morehead State.

#6 Seed Georgetown Hoyas


Bid: At Large 

Location: Washington, D.C>

Record: 21-10

KenPom Adj. Offensive Efficiency: 27

KenPom Adj. Defensive Efficiency: 52

Key Offensive Stat: eFG% (11)

Key Defensive Stat: eFG% (65)

Player to Know: Austin Freeman

Georgetown may be the second over-seeded team, if Chris Wright is still on the sidelines. The Hoyas had a fine year, but they come in having lost 4 in a row and 5 out of 6 (with Wright having missed the final three). Assuming Kevin O'Neill can sober up and compose himself long enough to get by the Rams of VCU, I think USC could pose a lot of problems for the Hoyas.

#7 Seed Texas A&M Aggies


Bid: At Large 

Location: College Station, TX

Record: 24-8

KenPom Adj. Offensive Efficiency: 62

KenPom Adj. Defensive Efficiency: 39

Key Offensive Stat: FTA/FGA (12

Key Defensive Stat: 3P% (36)

Player to Know: Khris Middleton

The Aggies are perfectly dangerous, particularly when matched up with a finess team that they can disrupt. Which sucks for them, because they were given the Florida State Seminoles, otherwise known as the A&M of the ACC. This will be an ugly game either way, but if SIngleton comes back for FSU, the Ags could be in some trouble.

#8 Seed UNLV Runnin' Rebels


Bid: At-large

Location: Las Vegas, NV


KenPom Adj. Offensive Efficiency: 54

KenPom Adj. Defensive Efficiency: 14

Key Offensive Stat: Block% (13)

Key Defensive Stat: TO% (17)

Player to Know: Tre'Von Willis

 UNLV is led by Lon Kruger and they mostly do their damage on the defensive end of the floor, making teams work for everything they get.  Former Jayhawk Quintrell Thomas anchors the paint for them, while Willis leads on the perimeter.  It seem thats whenever Kansas is a 1 seed, UNLV gets put right there with them on that 8-9 line. In 2008, they met up with the Jayhawks winning on their way to a national title.  A year ago, they were the first victim of Faroukmanesh. In 2011? Go Rebels! 

#9 Seed Illinois Fighting Illini


Bid: At-large

Location: Champaign, IL

Record: 19-13

KenPom Adj. Offensive Efficiency: 33

KenPom Adj. Defensive Efficiency: 23

Key Offensive Stat: 3P% (22)

Key Defensive Stat: 3P% (16)

Player to Know: Demetri McCamey

The Illini have been a huge disappointment this year, and if it were up to me, they might not even be in this field. But I suppose their November home win over North Carolina can't be discounted.  Although it should at least be cancelled out by their loss to UIC 3 weeks later. Quite simply, this team has the personnel, but Liberacci just can't get them to play winning basketball, for some reason. 

#10 Seed Florida State Seminoles


Bid: At Large 

Location: Tallahasse, FL

Record: 21-10

KenPom Adj. Offensive Efficiency: 153

KenPom Adj. Defensive Efficiency: 2

Key Offensive Stat: Off. Reb% (43)

Key Defensive Stat: 2P% (1)

Player to Know: Chris Singleton

If he plays, that is. And he has not, since February 12th. He suited up for the ACC tourney, but was that posturing for a seed, or has he legitimately recovered? We likely will not know until tip-off. If its the former, A&M is probably too much. If it's the latter, I like the Seminoles in a mini-upset.  Hope that helps you in your brackets.

#11 Seed USC Trojans (or VCU Rams)


Bid: At-large

Location: Los Angeles, CA


KenPom Adj. Offensive Efficiency: 76

KenPom Adj. Defensive Efficiency: 30

Key Offensive Stat: Steal% (21)

Key Defensive Stat: Off Reb% (19)

Player to Know: Nikola Vucevic

I'll only be profiling USC, because VCU hardly deserves a mention. Which almost assuredly means that Kevin O'Neill won't have his team ready to play on Wednesday and the Rams will advance. But as Kansas fans know, the Torjans can be awfully tough, particularly down low, with Vucevic and Stepheson. If they win in Dayton, I like them over the Hoyas too.

#12 Seed Richmond Spiders


Bid: Automatic, A-10

Location: Richmond, VA

Record: 27-7

KenPom Adj. Offensive Efficiency: 48

KenPom Adj. Defensive Efficiency: 51

Key Offensive Stat: 3P% (11)

Key Defensive Stat: 3P% (12)

Player to Know: Justin Harper

The big man down low leads the team in points (18), rebounds (7) and blocks (1.3). And for good measure, he shoots 47% from three (on 157 attempts, no less). I won't pretend to know a ton about Richmond, because yesterday was the first time I saw them play, and that was against Dayton. But I liked what I saw and I think they could give both Vandy and Lousiville fits.

#13 Seed Morehead State Eagles


Bid: Automatic, Ohio Valley

Location: Morehead, KY

Record: 24-9

KenPom Adj. Offensive Efficiency: 111

KenPom Adj. Defensive Efficiency: 91

Key Offensive Stat: Off Reb% (3)

Key Defensive Stat: Steal% (9)

Player to Know: Kenneth Faried

I don't know much about the Iggles, but I do know that Lousiville better get a body on Faried, because that guy is a beast. Yes, he plays in the Ohio Valley, but when you average 18 points (on 64% shooting), 15 boards, 2 steals and 2.4 blocks per game, you've got my attention. On the perimeter, Terrance Hill, Sam Goodman, Ty Proffitt and Demonte Harper need to take care of the ball against that Louisville pressure, but if they can, this could end up being fun. All four shoot 35% or better from three.

#14 Seed St Peter's Peacocks


Bid: Automatic- MAAC

Location: Jersey City, NJ


KenPom Adj. Offensive Efficiency:274

KenPom Adj. Defensive Efficiency:20

Key Offensive Stat: FTA/FGA (114)

Key Defensive Stat: eFG% (3)

Player to Know: Wesley Jenkins

I have yet to watch the Peacocks play this year, but I'm going to go out on a limb and assume that they're a defensive-minded bunch. I strongly encourage you to check out their KenPom profile. The contrast from offense to defense is nothing short of stunning.

#15 Seed Akron ZIps


Bid: Automatic, MAC

Location: Akron, OH


KenPom Adj. Offensive Efficiency: 157

KenPom Adj. Defensive Efficiency: 103

Key Offensive Stat: Block% (14)

Key Defensive Stat: FT% (38)

Player to Know: Nikola Cvetinovic

I bet you didn't think we'd have two Nikola's in the "player to know" category, did you? It's a global world, folks. And I give Akron almost no chance whasoever of staying with the Irish.

#16 Seed Boston Terriers


Bid: Automatic, America East

Location: Boston, MA


KenPom Adj. Offensive Efficiency: 169

KenPom Adj. Defensive Efficiency: 184

Key Offensive Stat: Steal% (30)

Key Defensive Stat: eFG% (34)

Player to Know: John Holland

Coaches say what they have to, but don't let Bill fool you into thinking that Boston is under-seeded. We've had our fair share of those in recent years, but this isn't one of them. Boston is right where they belong and this shouldn't be a game by halftime.  We'll need to know where Holland is at all times, as he's their leading scorer (19) and rebounder (6). They do have some shooters, and as a team they're 36% from three.

The Matchups

#1 Kansas vs #16 Boston

What To Watch: Kansas' offense. The best in the country when their head's are on straight.

Boston Will Win If: Not going to happen.

Kansas Will Win If:  They show up.

#8 UNLV vs. #9 Illinois

What To Watch:  The Rebels' ability to slow McCamey. If he's rolling, the Illini can be tough.

UNLV Will Win If:  They cut off the head and make it a defensive game.

Illinois Will Win If:  They take care of the basketball and convert in transition.

#5 Vanderbilt vs. #12 Richmond

What To Watch:  Can Richmond slow down John Jenkins?

Vandy Will Win If:  They execute on offense. Richmond isn't an elite stopper, but they won't beat themselves.

Richmond Will Win If:  They can force Vandy into settling for tough jumpers and if they can rebound those misses.

#4 Lousiville vs. #13 Morehead State

What To Watch:  Kenneth Faried. Lousiville isn't a very good rebounding team and Faried is about to get paid extremely well, simply to rebound the ball. If shots aren't falling, the Cards may not get many second chances.

Lousiville Will Win If:  They get out in transition, convert easy looks and don't let Morehead get set.

Morehead State Will Win If:  They take care of the ball and make Lousiville work for offense in the half-court.

#6 Georgetown vs #11 USC- VCU winner

What To Watch:  Will Chris Wright play? If he does, will he be effective?

Georgetown Will Win If:  Wright is healthy and their offense is back to normal.

USC-VCU Will Win If:  They take advntage of the Hoyas lack of inside presence.

#3 Purdue vs. #14 St. Peter's

What To Watch:  Johnson and Moore. A dynamic duo that can light up the nets.

Purdue Will Win If:  They stay patient on offense. The Peacocks are excellent defensively, but Purdue will be fine, if they keep running sets and getting their big guns the the ball.

St. Peter's  Will Win If:  The Boilers get frustrated and lose focus. It's happened before. Recently too. St. Peter's isn't much worse than Iowa.

#7 Texas A&M vs. #10 Florida State

What To Watch:  Points in the paint.  Both teams need them to keep the scoreboard moving.

A&M Will Win If:  They can score. Because Florida State can't.

FloridaState Will Win If:  Singleton is back to his old self and can frustrate Loubeau. They want this game in the 40s or 50s.

#2 Notre Dame vs. #15 Akron

What To Watch:  Notre Dame's offense. They've been clicking on all cylinders and the Hawks may need to figure out a way to stop it, in order to get to Houston.

Notre Dame Will Win If:  They show up.

Akron Will Win If:  They can't.

RCT Predictions

Most Likely to Pull an Upset:  USC over Georgetown. Richmond over Vandy.

Most Likely to Pull a Surprise Run:  Louisville

Final Four Favorite:  Kansas

Underseeded: Lousiville

Overseeded: Vanderbilt

Best Team No One Knows About:  Morehead State