March Madness 2012 – South Region

Written March 13th, 2012 by WVaBuckeye
Social Buttons by Linksku

March madness is finally here and with plenty to talk about. The South region is the home of the number one overall seed and could possibly be the home of a strange fact.  The seventeen teams in the region (including the play in teams of Miss. Valley St. and Western Kentucky)  have a combined record of 7 and 10 in their last game played. No seed ten and above won their last game and all seeds eleven and below won their conference championships. Yesterday, Joe D. broke down the West and Eric took a look at the East. Let’s get things going vertical with the breakdown of the south region.

Favorites: By default the top four seeds in the South region have to be the favorites to make it to the sweet sixteen. Kentucky is loaded and the overall number one of the NCAA’s and possess one of the National POY candidates in Anthony Davis. The only two teams on their side of the bracket that will offer some resistance is UCONN and of course Indiana, the only team to beat UK during the regular season. The Hoosiers are a four seed in the region and Tom Crean has his team ready for the post season. Next up are the Blue Devils of Duke, as the Mike Krzyzewski lead bunch are always a threat to win it all. This year though, they will have a little more difficulty getting out of the second round — having to face the ND and Xavier winner (more on that later). The three seeded  Baylor Bears are coming off a loss to Missouri in the B12 final. The Scott Drew led team could be a serious threat to make the final four. They have the talent and a star in Perry Jones III. Their uptempo style has lead to them outscoring their opponents by a ten point margin this season.

Cinderella:  With Wichita State pulling in a five seed and everybody and their brother knowing about Shaka Smart and VCU, there really is only one true Cinderella in the South region. That’s the New Mexico State Aggies who are led by one of the better players in the country who nobody has heard of in Wendell McKines. The Aggies get Indiana in round one and could pull off the upset and if they do look out. They could be the dark horse of the tourney facing the VCU/Wichita State winner and then facing off with Kentucky eventually. McKines averages a double/double for the Aggies and they only lost by three to Michigan State in the first round of the 2010 tournament. The Aggies have a Final Four in their record books as they lost to UCLA in the semi’s in 1970 before defeating St. Bonaventure in the third place game. NMSU is a scary good team and Indiana needs to prepare well for them.

Most Likely To Be Upset: The one team that jumped out to me when I first saw this bracket was the Duke Blue Devils. They don’t have a lot of history in losing in the early rounds, but they do have times that it has happened. This Blue Devil team hasn’t felt right since the Buckeyes gave them one of their worst losses ever in the early part of the season. They have lost these types of games during the season at Temple and home to Miami, not to mention two losses to Florida State on the season. Lehigh will pose one of those fifteen versus two match-ups that people will want to watch. Like Belmont did in the first game of the season , this Lehigh team can score at will. The Blue Devils had better be ready for C.J. McCollum and company when Friday rolls around.

a two seed ripe for the picking - Not a typical Duke team

Players to Watch: I’m not sure that either of these players will be around for long, but they both deserve mentioning. C.J. McCollum for Lehigh and Nate Wolter’s of South Dakota State can flat-out play and are the main reasons their teams ar where they are. As I said, I give Lehigh as good a chance as any of the previous fifteen seeds that have won in the first round. They have a chance because they have the Patriot League POY, who is also a Lou Henson Award finalist given to the Mid-Major POY. He has scored 20 points in all of his conference games except against Bucknell and averages 21.9 ppg, 2.6 spg, 6.5 rpg. He scored 29 points in the Patriot League final and has his team on a roll headed into the NCAA tourney. Nate Wolter’s is the only player in the nation to average more than twenty points(21.3), more than 6 assists(6.0, and more than five rebounds(5.2) a game. He has been named to the All-Confernce team for the second year in a row and has led the Jackrabbits to their first NCAA appearance as a D1 program. They have less of a chance against Baylor pulling off the upset so make sure you watch that game to see what he’s capable of doing.

Only D1 player to average more than 20ppg, more than 6apg and more than 5rpg

Unheralded Player: Baylor has a pair of guards that handle their needs in Pierre Jackson and Brady Heslip. And they have some serious length on the defensive side of the ball that is commanding. Coach Scott Drew likes to mix things up at times and go three guard look and bring in unheralded player A.J. Walton. He provides them with some hassle on other teams guards and perimeter. Gives the others the opportunity to pressure off ball and take away passing zones. All that most coaches ask of their players is to do their jobs and contribute. Walton  averages 4.0 ppg, 2.8 apg, 1.4 spg and is very efficient when taking care of the ball in only averaging 19 minutes a game and having started 18 games this season. He is the wild card for the Baylor Bears and will assist in their success during this tourney run.

AJ Walton harasses a Missouri player earlier this season

Team From Obscurity: If the defending National Champion can be considered a team from obscurity then the UCONN Huskies have got to fill that role. The difference between last years championship run and a possible run this year is that they won the Big East last year and went on a roll winning it all by playing great ball down the stretch. They don’t have the best player in the country this time but they have one of the best coaches in Jim Calhoun. The team suffered through an eight game stretch without their coach during the season and almost wasn’t going to even be considered for a NCAA return, but Coach Calhoun righted the ship and they landed an eight seed. Granted, if they get past Iowa State they have to face the number one overall seed in Kentucky. If Jeremy Lamb has anything to say about it, the Huskies will move forward and continue what has become an unlikely two-year run.

Can Lamb lead the Huskies to the promised land just as Walker did?

Elite Eight Picks: I personally believe that Indiana and Duke will struggle early on in this region. Even though there are a couple of teams that could provide some scares in the top teams here, the Kentucky Wildcats and Baylor Bears will survive and move into the elite eight. The only team I will put down as a possible wildcard to mess things up in this bracket are the UCONN Huskies. Their coach is back to rallying the troops and the Huskies can provide enough of a fight in the second round to possibly upset the Wildcats. I don’t think it will happen, but it is a possibility.

Comment On Article