Fan-i Bracketology: South Region
The South region is probably one of the weakest on the bracket. Not to many intriguing matchups and it looks like it could be an easy road for the top seeds. Only thing is I think there will be some 1st round shockers to come out of this region.
Duke is the only #1 seed out of the four regions to not win their conference title, in fact, they didn't even make it to the Finals. Duke still is one of the best teams in the county, just couldn't get over the Irish hump. All 4 of their losses came against conference foes, twice to Notre Dame. The Blue Devils also have two diaper dandies in Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Young. Of course Okafor is the best player on the team but I think Tyus is the key to them making it to the title game. Despite being a Freshman, Tyus has had some of his best games this season in the biggest games, @Wisconsin, @UVA, and against Carolina in overtime.
His last game was a bad one though, along with Quinn Cook, combined shooting 6-25 from the field in the ACC Semifinal against Notre Dame. Coach K can't afford to have both of his stellar guards to have bad shooting nights.
After being snubbed last season, SMU made it to the tournament, thanks to their AAC tournament run, defeating UConn in the finals. SMU didn't do well in their 8 tournament games, finishing 3-5, 2 of those losses coming against Cincinnati.
A lot of people are jumping on the Iowa State bandwagon and rightfully so. They are the BIG 12 champs and has won 8 out of their last ten. A lot of their hype is coming from them being in the overrated BIG 12 because they do have two non-conference losses to Maryland and South Carolina, while going 12-6 in the Big 12. I actually do like Iowa State because they play good team basketball and can put up points. They can score with the best of them but they do show signs of inconsistency.
I think this may be one of Gonzaga's best teams ever. With Kyle Wiltjer, the former Kentucky Wildcat who was apart of that 2012 championship team, they have a player who has been through the fire already. For the NCAA Tournament, you need that player that can just take over games, usually it's a guard, but I think Wiltjer is that kind of player. Plus they have depth and in both front court and back court, with some size. This could be the year the Zags finally get over the hump.
The one thing I find intriguing about this region is, it has some legitimate potential upsets.
- Eastern Washington over Georgetown wouldn't be a bad pick. EWU has the nation's leading scorer in Tyler Harvey, and is 2-1 vs tournament teams, one of which coming on the road at Indiana.
- Then you have Stephen F. Austin, who defeated VCU last year in the first round and they are returning 6 players from that game, 3 of which being starters.
- North Dakota State, also was victorious last season in the first round as the 12th seed, defeating Oklahoma. Only three players return from that team one which being Lawrence Alexander who averages 19 points a game. I think they will need to play the perfect game in order to beat the Zags though..
Players to Watch
- #1 Duke v. #9 St. Johns, Third Round - I think the Johnnie's could give the Blue Devils a good run but their inconsistency leaves a big question mark. Duke beat St. Johns earlier this season 77-68.
- #3 Iowa State v. #2 Gonzaga, Sweet 16 - The matchup between Niang and Wiltjer should be very fun to watch.
- #1 Duke v. #2 Gonzaga, Elite 8 - If this does in fact happen, I think this will be the best game of the tournament.