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Bracket Breakdown: NCAA Tournament Predictions: South Region
- Updated: March 13, 2012
By: Kels Dayton
Having trouble filling out your bracket? You’ve come to the right place. Roundball Daily.com‘s college basketball expert Kels Dayton will take you region by region, outlining what’s possible and what’s not, so that you can make informed decisions. Because making informed decisions is the key to winning your pool. And winning your pool is the key to using the prize money to buy a giant, gold-plated sculpture of yourself that hangs triumphantly over your desk and proclaims your bracket domination over everyone in the office.
8-9 GAME: This is a pick ’em game, and it likely won’t hurt you to get it wrong because top-seed Kentucky is likely to steamroll the winner anyway. If you want to pick one of them to beat the Wildcats, go with the defending national champion Huskies, who have two first-round NBA draft choices in Jeremy Lamb and Andre Drummond and a Hall of Fame coach in Jim Calhoun, who’s been through this whole tournament thing once or twice.
FIRST ROUND UPSETS:
They’re baaack. VCU is once again a Cinderella candidate, taking on 5th-seed Wichita State one year after captivating the country by going from First Four to Final Four. Most of the faces are different this time around, but head coach Shaka Smart remains in place. Senior forward Bradford Burgess (13.3 ppg, 4.9 rpg) is the key cog on this Rams team, which caught fire in the second half of the season and won 17 of 18 games. This will be a very evenly-matched game.
14-seed South Dakota State could pick off 3rd-seeded Baylor, although it’s unlikely. The Jackrabbits hammered Washington in Seattle earlier this season and have an extremely talented guard in junior Nate Wolters (21.3 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 6.0 apg). They also have a 6-8 forward in Jordan Dykstra who hits threes at a 48.6 percent clip. Baylor has been known to sleepwalk through some games, so the Bears could be ripe for an upset in this one.
11-seed Colorado also has a chance to knock out UNLV. The Buffaloes won four games in four days to capture the Pac-12 championship, and are led by silky-smooth 6-7 forward Andre Roberson, who averaged 11.6 points, and 11.1 rebounds per contest for the Buffaloes.
It would be an all-time tournament shocker, but if you want to go out on a limb, take UConn to knock out Kentucky. The Huskies have the talent to play with anybody, as they proved in the second round of the Big East tournament when they almost dethroned Syracuse.
Wichita State over Indiana is not a huge upset, but certainly one to keep an eye on. UNLV could easily take out Baylor; in fact, it wouldn’t be crazy to advance the Rebels past the Bears and Blue Devils and into the Elite Eight. UNLV is loaded with experience in the backcourt, and has an impact player up front in sophomore forward Mike Moser (14.1 ppg, 10.1 rpg). The Runnin’ Rebs own a home win over North Carolina, so you know this team can play.
CINDERELLA RUNS: VCU, Wichita State, UNLV, and Colorado are each capable of reaching the Sweet 16. UNLV is the best bet to go further because the Rebs have a much easier path, with a light No. 2 seed in Duke on the bottom half of the bracket.
FINAL FOUR PICKS: It’s going to be tough to go against Kentucky here. If you must do it, Baylor is a good choice because the Bears can match Kentucky’s athleticism and have a star-in-the waiting in Perry Jones III, who is capable of a breakout performance.
Stats courtesy www.statsheet.com.