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NCAA Tournament Bracket Breakdown: South

by Photo of Ross Bernhardt

Kansas is tops in this region, but plenty of threats await them throughout the bracket.

NCAA Tournament Bracket Breakdown: South

March Madness really begins tomorrow when the Round of 64 kicks off with 16 games. Before that, we have to wait through the First Four games and continue to fret over our brackets. Before the NCAA Tournament really kicks off, we'll take a look at each region of the bracket and then go through pick by pick until we find a winner. Let's look at the South Region.

Overview:

Kansas earned the one seed in the South, and they certainly have all the pieces to make a run similar to last year's squad that lost to Kentucky in the title game. There's no Thomas Robinson or Tyshawn Taylor, but Jeff Withey is playing an even bigger role this year inside and Ben McLemore is one of the top players in the whole tournament. The redshirt freshman has the capability to stuff the stat sheet on any given night, and his superstar play combined with Withey's defense on the interior will make Kansas a tough out.

But that doesn't mean there's a lack of opponents who could give the Jayhawks fits. Two seed Georgetown also possesses one of the most complete players in the country in Otto Porter. The Florida Gators just happen to be the top-ranked team in Ken Pomeroy's adjusted rankings. Michigan reached the top of the AP/Coaches polls this year and features the best point guard in the nation, Trey Burke. The VCU Rams as a five seed could pose a major threat to any team with their "Havoc" defense. Oh, and North Carolina happens to be an eight seed. The South is pretty loaded, too.

Upset Lock:

UCLA unfortunately lost their second-leading scorer Jordan Adams during the Pac-12 tournament. They were still able to receive a six seed from the committee, but they got a doozy of a matchup in the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Minnesota boasts one of the the best rebounding teams in the country (top in offensive rebounding percentage and top in defensive rebounds per game). Trevor Mbakwe and Rodney Williams do a great job of clearing the glass, something that UCLA doesn't do well. 

Of course, UCLA has the best player in this game (Shabazz Muhammed) and he could very well just take this thing over. But I think Minnesota's advantage on the glass plus the loss of Adams will send the Bruins home early.

Juiciest Potential Matchup:

A VCU/Florida matchup in the Elite Eight would be an incredible matchup. Both the Rams and Gators boast incredibly athletic rosters. Kenny Boynton and Mike Rosario are two of the quickest guards around, and watching Shaka Smart's Havoc press try and contain them would be compelling basketball. Would Florida be able to take advantage of their advantage down low with Erik Murphy and Patric Young? Would VCU be able to force the Gators into turnovers and play at their pace with their stable of pressure-minded guards? Make this one happen, tournament gods.

Bold Prediction:

In keeping theme with my Midwest prediction, I'm betting big on the A-10 having another solid showing in the tournament. I think VCU knocks off Kansas in the Sweet Sixteen. Of course, VCU has to make it there first and that's no guarantee. They have to get past a tough Akron team, then face a likely matchup with Michigan. Trey Burke is one of the best floor generals in the country and rarely turns the ball over. 

But, I think VCU does all that and sends another top seed home early. Aside from McLemore, Kansas won't have strong enough guard play to handle all the traps they will face from the likes of Treveon Graham, Darius Theus, Rob Brandenburg, Troy Daniels, and Brionte Weber. The pressure will be too much for the Jayhawks, and the Rams will move on.

12 over 5?

Obviously if I'm riding five seed VCU into the Elite Eight, I don't see this happening. However, this won't be a cakewalk for the Rams. The Akron Zips are a highly talented team from the MAC (MACtion needs to be taken seriously, everyone) and they were able to knock off DJ Cooper and the Ohio Bobcats three times this year. They have a size advantage inside with seven-footer Zeke Marshall, and if they can find a way to get him the ball, VCU only has Juvonte Reddic and his 6'9" frame to counter him. I still think VCU will find a way to win, but this will be an interesting game.

Potential "Bracket Buster":

A team like North Carolina could be a very dangerous eight seed for someone like Kansas. The Tar Heels have a super talented big in James Michael McAdoo, have capable veteran guards in Dexter Strickland and Reggie Bullock, and have also boast two more talented guards in P.J. Hairston and Marcus Paige. And despite not boasting many top wins, they have been playing better basketball down the stretch. Roy Williams will have his team ready to compete, and they could definitely cause some problems in the South.

Player to Watch:

Nate Wolters, South Dakota State's do-everything guard, might only get one game in this tournament as his team faces a tough Michigan squad. But it would be something to see Wolters put the team on is back and pull off the upset. At 6'4" 190, Wolters isn't the most athletic guy out there, but the guy just scores. He's the country's fourth-leading scorer at 22.7 a game. He can get to the rim (eighth in the nation in free throws made), he can shoot from deep (39% from three) and he can also facilitate the offense when defenses focus on him (team-high 5.8 assists a game). Wolters is really fun to watch, and he's going to get his against Michigan, but that likely won't be enough to move the Jackrabbits past the Wolverines.

Honorable Mention: Trey Burke, Michigan

The Pick: Georgetown

Even though Florida boasts one of the most balanced teams in the country, I think Otto Porter and the Hoyas will be able to dictate the pace and get Florida to play their game. Florida hasn't won a game by fewer than double digits this season. That means if you keep it close, you can get to them, and Porter is the kind of star player that a stingy defensive team like Georgetown can lean on to help take down the Gators and return to the Final Four.

Don't miss out on the madness! Let CHARGED.fm get you tickets to the 2013 NCAA Tournament!


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