Tomorrow will be the true start of March Madness, so today, there will be looks at all four regions. I figured that once some of the First Four games were played, and a couple of days to think about the bracket would be wise before going ahead with this post. Since there was no play-in games in this region, let's start with the South, looking at grouping the teams based on chances on advancing.
THANKS FOR ATTENDING
Western Kentucky (16) and Northwestern State (14) have no shot of an upset. Thus, we get reminded how we have no idea what the Hilltoppers mascot is and that Northwestern State has made more NCAA appearances than Northwestern, who's in the Big 10.
SO YOU'RE SAYING THERE'S A CHANCE?
This is the group for Florida Gulf Coast (15), South Dakota State (13) and Akron (12). If everything broke right, an upset can occur. Akron's hurt by a suspension of PG Alex Abreu, which is a killer against VCU. I'm also pretty sure that Georgetown will be on guard for the upset by FGC. The Jackrabbits of SD State are on this list because they gave Baylor a scare last year; unfortunately I think Michigan won't allow another First Round loss (for the purposes of this and any other posts, I will, rightfully, refer to the Second Round as First Round), after the one Ohio gave them a year ago.
MAY AS WELL BE A GAME FROM THE NIT
San Diego State (7) vs. Oklahoma (10). Neither team is beating Georgetown and they are close enough competitively that seed doesn't matter. The rule of thumb is to pick against Steve Fisher-coached teams in the tourney, since they only won a game in the tourney once since 1994, right before Juwan Howard and Jalen Rose went to the NBA. Oklahoma is the pick by default.
ROCK(CHALK), PAPER, SCISSORS
For some reason, I think Villanova (9) has a shot to pull over Kansas. Problem is, North Carolina (8) looks like they will create matchup problems with the Wildcats. Which is too bad, because there's no way that the Tar Heels knock off the Jayhawks.
SHOULDN'T THESE SEEDS BE REVERSED?
UCLA (6) vs. Minnesota (11). I know why Minnesota is an 11-seed, but the Bruins are missing Jordan Adams and the Gophers will be happy to be freed from Big 10 play. They finished the year 5-11 after a 15-1 start. I think playing on neutral courts can get them back to a November-December rhythm. Don't be surprised if Minnesota can make their way to the Sweet 16; they rebound the ball very well.
DON'T FALL IN LOVE WITH THESE TEAMS
Kansas (1), Florida (3) and Michigan (4) all will be picked to go to the Final Four in a bunch of brackets. Florida, in fact, has the Nate Silver seal of approval. With the Gators, I really don't like how they have absolutely zero close wins. As for Kansas and Michigan, they seem to be bad matchups for VCU and Shaka Smart's Havoc.
VCU (5) vs. Georgetown (2). I'm relishing this matchup with Otto Porter and the Hoyas will try to slow down the Rams of VCU who will do all they can to rev up the tempo in this one. In the end, I don't think there's enough for Georgetown to pull through past the Rams.
South Region Winner: VCU