NCAA Tournament breakdown: South Region preview
A reminder, to see the full bracket, and to enter our March Mayhem challenge for a chance to win great prizes, go here. Also, be sure to check out our other March Madness games, like the Battle of the Mascots.
Onto the South Region:
Favorite: No. 1 Kentucky Wildcats
The Wildcats are the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament and only lost twice all season, so they are clearly the presumptive favorite in the South Region. With the length and athleticism of Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and the rest of the Wildcats, Kentucky is a matchup nightmare for any team. I also believe the Wildcats got a good draw with No. 2 seed Duke, who may be the weakest of the No. 2s.
Cinderella: No. 11 Colorado Buffaloes
The Buffaloes weren't on the Tournament Committee's radar until they ran the table in the Pac-12 Tournament, earning themselves an automatic bid to the NCAAs. We all know how important it is to be hot this time of year. Just remember last season when Connecticut won the Big East Tournament and rode that to an NCAA title. Colorado is super athletic, and if they get hot, watch out for a second (first) round upset over UNLV and a close third (second) round game with Baylor.
Overrated: No. 6 UNLV Rebels
The Rebels sputtered down the stretch, losing five of their last 10 games, including a couple of bad losses to TCU and Wyoming. UNLV is battle-tested (they even took down then-No. 1 North Carolina earlier in the season), however, Colorado could very well present lots of matchup problems for the Rebels, and a No. 6 seed is probably too high for them.
Underrated: No. 14 South Dakota State Jackrabbits
I am by no means predicting that South Dakota State will upset Baylor in the second (first) round, but the Bears better not take the Jackrabbits lightly. This is a team, after all, that went into Seattle and beat Washington by 19 on their home floor earlier this year. Led by Nate Wolters, South Dakota State can score in bunches, so watch out if he gets going.
Best second (first) round matchup: No. 8 Iowa State Cyclones vs. No. 9 Connecticut Huskies
This is the epitome of a tossup game between two teams that both might be slightly underrated. The Cyclones finished third in the Big 12 this season and have a player in Royce White who led the team and in just about every statistical category and can take over a game. Connecticut knows as well as anyone how important it is to have a player who can dominant a game--they rode Kemba Walker to the NCAA Championship just last season.
Best matchup(s) down the line:
1 (a). No. 1 Kentucky Wildcats vs. No. 2 Duke Blue Devils
So the Tournament Committee got a tad bit nostalgic here. On the 20th anniversary of Christian Laettner's buzzer beater to beat Kentucky in the Elite Eight, Kentucky and Duke yet again are the Nos. 1 and 2 seeds in a region and could square off. Wouldn't that be fun? Well, maybe not, because I think Kentucky is considerably better than Duke this time around.
1 (b). No. 1 Kentucky Wildcats vs. No. 4 Indiana Hoosiers
This is a likely Sweet Sixteen matchup, and boy would it be a dandy. Don't forget, until yesterday, the only team to beat Kentucky this season was the Hoosiers. I'm sure the Wildcats will be looking for revenge, but could Indiana pull off the monster upset...twice?
Champion prediction: No. 1 Kentucky Wildcats
Here are previews of the West, Midwest and East regions.