Warning: I will not be responsible if you copy this bracket and are out of your NCAA Tournament pool by Sunday. However, if you do listen to my college basketball wisdom and win some money, I want 20% of the pot or at least a shout-out on your twitter or facebook page.
Kansas earned the number one seed in the South Bracket and get a huge home court advantage playing their first two games in Kansas City. Florida, Georgetown, and Michigan are the other top seed but there are a couple of dangerous teams lurking in this regional.
South Bracket Overview:
There is the potential for a few very interesting match-ups in this regional. If UNC can get past Villanova in the opening round, Roy Williams will face his old team Kansas with a trip to the Sweet 16 on the line. There is the potential of a Sweet 16 game between Florida and Georgetown. The Gators and Hoyas played half of a game on a ship at the beginning of the year but that game could not be completed due to condensation on the floor. I’m really hoping to see a Michigan-VCU second round battle to see how Trey Burke handles the full-court havoc Shaka Smart’s defense brings to the floor.
Most Intriguing First Round South Bracket Game: #4 Michigan vs. #13 South Dakota State
Burke vs. Nate Wolters in a battle of two of the top point guards in college basketball? Yes, please. Wolters was one of the leading scorers in the country this season and we’ll get to see just how good of a scorer he is when he’s hopefully being checked by Burke all game long.
South Bracket Early Exit: #6 UCLA
The injury to Jordan Adams really hurts the Bruins who are already have a very thin bench. They will need a tremendous effort from Shabazz Muhammad and Larry Drew to take care of the basketball if they want to advance past Minnesota in the opening round which I don’t think will happen. Even if the Bruins were somehow able to advance past the Gophs, I don’t think they stand a chance against a Florida team that can pressure the ball and wear teams out.
South Bracket Sleeper: #5 VCU
Because they play you full court for all 40 minutes, the Rams can be a nightmare match-up for certain teams, just ask Butler. Shaka’s boys are battle-tested, balanced on offense as usual, get all up on you defensively. My one concern about them making a run is having to play Michigan in Auburn Hills which is pretty much a home game for the Wolverines and then likely having to play a veteran Kansas team. Still, the Rams have done it before and don’t be surprised if they do it again.
South Bracket Impact Players to Watch:
Otto Porter, Georgetown
A National Player of the Year candidate, Porter has done a little bit of everything for the Hoyas leading the team in scoring, rebounding, steals, blocked shots, and 3-point percentage. He has the ability to impact a game without having to hunt down shots but still gets his when called upon. A solid showing in the tourney could cement his status as a potential top three pick in the NBA Draft.
Jamaal Franklin, San Diego State
Speaking of hunting down shots, Franklin is one of the best slashers in college basketball and his versatility has been a key for the Aztecs the past two seasons. He does play out of control too often but if he can be on top of his game while making sound decisions with the basketball, San Diego State has the talent to possibly pull off an upset or two.
Andre Hollins, Minnesota
Erratic doesn’t even do justice to how up and down Hollins has been this season. As proven by his 41-point outburst versus Memphis during the Battle 4 Atlantis, Hollins can fill it up whether attacking the tin or bombing away from downtown. He no-shows just as frequently as he gets hot though and the Gophs cannot afford an off day/night from Hollins if they hope to make any noise.
P.J. Hairston, North Carolina
Part of the Tar Heel turnaround came when Williams decided to go with a smaller lineup, ultimately moving Hairston in as starter power forward. The sophomore has scored in double figures in each of UNC’s last fifteen games and can get buckets in a hurry. His offense will be important as will his defense since he is often stuck guarding bigger power forwards which is a mismatch for a 6-5 wing.
Zeke Marshall, Akron
The seven-footer is a defensive presence at the rim but also a very efficient scorer in the paint. He will need a beastly performance in the tourney since the Zips are without suspended guard Alex Abreu and face a stiff opening round challenge against VCU.
South Bracket Final: #1 Kansas over #2 Gerogetown
Chalk final (both literally and figuratively. Get it, Rock Chalk… huh? Anyone?) If I had any balls, I’d roll VCU past Kansas in a repeat of the 2011 tourney and really think that upset is a good possibility. However, it’s hard to bet against a Kansas team that starts four seniors and the one non-senior in their starting five is a possible top pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. Plus KU has gotten solid bench contributions of late from Naadir Tharpe and Perry Ellis.
As for the bottom half of the bracket, I don’t love Georgetown but I like them better than Florida who is 0-6 in games decided by nine points or less. Since I cannot see any other team making a run, it’s the Hoyas by default. So Kansas is heading back to the Final Four… unless of course, I grow a pair and take VCU.
David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank. He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities. David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu. He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft and the most accurate 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the internet (Yup, repeat champ… #humblebrag.)