Our Bracket Breakdown gets a little close to home…
The South Region is of some interest to us since that is Ohio State’s “Region”. It also has a few other top-rated teams such as Florida, Kansas, UCLA and Syracuse. Whoever emerges from this Region has a legitimate chance to be in the Finals and possibly win it all.
Rather than go through game-by-game in the Region, I’ll focus on five (5) topics; 1) the team likely to win region, 2) the region’s Cinderella team, 3) team most likely to be upset, 4) who is region’s unheralded player and 5) my Elite 8 picks. Envelopes, please…
Regional Favorite: Florida is my choice to win this Region. The Gators haven’t lost a game since December 2nd, and it’s unlikely they lose this week, until possibly the Finals. They are a well-balanced team, play decently on offense, but are a top notch defensive team. In their last 14 games, dating back to February 1st, they have allowed less than 60 points in 7 of them. A capable offense and a tough defense will carry this team to the Final Four.
Cinderella: The Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks could be wearing the Glass Slipper, at least until midnight. They aren’t rated well (RPI 55, SOS 315) but they come in as the #12 seed against VCU and the Rams are only a 6 point favorite. They have a decent defense and are efficient of on offense (1.16 PPP). And, a #11/#12 seed moving on is not unheard of; just ask VCU. Read More
Sorry, Iowa and Tennessee- the tournament don’t get rolling until tomorrow, no matter what you told people yesterday. So, we’ve got one more day of work before distraction takes us all… it’s madness, I say!
Have you filled out your brackets and entered tBBC’s annual bracket challenge? If not, what are you waiting on? Get on it.
We head West for the second of our four region previews in preparation for the greatest weekend in sports. After our first preview of the loaded Midwest region, the West is a bit less exciting as on paper it is probably the easiest of the four regions, challenged only by the East.
Favorite – Arizona had to be thrilled about their draw in this one. Not only is the West the easiest of the regions, the Wildcats will also get to avoid a lot of travel as they never play more than 471 miles from their campus and fans will have easy access to direct flights that last no more than an hour and a half for the first two weekends; no other team’s fans will have it that easy. Travel will be even easier for the team as getting out of the first weekend means just a fairly short drive up the coast from San Diego to Los Angeles.
It’s not just the short travel and large fan support that the Wildcats will get that makes them the favorite in the region; Arizona put together an impressive season, finishing in second place in the RPI with a 30-4 record while playing the nation’s fourth hardest schedule. The Wildcats won their first 21 games of the season in a stretch that included wins over San Diego State (4 seed in the West), Duke (3 seed in the Midwest), Michigan (2 seed in the Midwest), and UCLA (4 seed in the South), among others. The loss of Brandon Ashley to injury hurt the Wildcats, they’ve gone 9-4 without him, but this team still has offensive weapons. The key to Arizona’s success has been a stifling defense that has limited opponents to 58.1 points per game on 38% shooting; this defense doesn’t seem to have lost a beat following Ashley’s injury.
Tuesday and Wednesday we’ll be giving you our insight into each reason, looking for the stories that you may not have read elsewhere.
The Midwest Region is a tough Region, not that any Region will be easy, but this one is particularly top-loaded. In this Region are Wichita State (ranked #2 AP and the only undefeated team in the nation), Louisville (#5), Duke (#7), TTUN (#8), St. Louis (#18) along with UMass and Kentucky. Four teams in the AP Top Ten and another in the Top Twenty. All of the other Regions have two Top Ten teams each.
This Region is a bit odd; it has the most Top Ten teams and it also has three of the four play-in game winners playing as well. So, it seems to me, this Region is comparatively very good at the top, then comparatively not-that-good in the middle seeds and below. For example, the play-in game for the #11 seed involves Iowa (20-12) vs Tennessee (21-12). Frankly, if you’re good enough to “play” into the #11 seed, something is amiss with the selection process. If you have to play yourself in to the field of 64, then you go to the back of the line at a #16 seed. /steps off soapbox. Read More