The top half of this bracket has gone according to plan with no major upsets and has 1 seed Kansas facing the 4 seed Michigan.
TV Schedule (EST) :
Friday, March 29
1 Kansas vs. (W) 4 Michigan TBS 7:37 pm
(W) 3 Florida vs. 15 Florida Gulf Coast TBS 9:57 pm
*Updates made all week, check back daily!
3 Florida vs 15 Florida Gulf Coast
Obviously something has to give because both teams can score and play defense. Bernard Thompson is leading the way for the Eagles with 23 points in both games. He attempted 15 shots in each, but shot just 38% against the Hoyas. He managed to sink 10 of 16 free throw attempts to earn his points. Against the Aztecs, he found his shot, going 9-15 and is now 5-12 from downtown in the tournament. He added 5 steals against SDST. I really like FGCU chances because they don't rely on the 3 ball and shoot it pretty efficiently, going 13-33 (39%) over the 1st two games.
The Gators have had the easier road to the Sweet 16 with wins against Northwestern State and Minnesota. When you are the 4 seed, you earned it. But they have attempted 41 3s in two games and if FGCU continues to be ferocious on D, the Gators might shoot themselves out of the tournament! Gator guard Mike Rosario is 8 of 14 from downtown and that is way above his season and career percentages. The senior shot an excellent 37% from downtown this year but it is way above his career 32%. Law of averages says if he continues to shoot, he will struggle. Cleary Florida is the better team, but everyone in America is rooting for the Eagles to swoop down and grab these Gators by the throat! Especially if you picked Kansas to win the South Region like I did!
1 Kansas vs 4 Michigan
On the top of the bracket, the Kansas Jayhawks will have to beat a Michigan Wolverines team that just dismantled the VCU Rams and their full court press. Jeff Withey already has 12 blocks in the tournament to go along with his 33 points and 22 rebounds. He will have the difficult task of Mitch McGary in the Sweet 16 matchup, but I will take the senior over the freshman every time. McGary blew up for 21 points against VCU because of the Wolverines ability to breakdown the press, and get easy looks under the hoop. It will come down to defending Michigans 3 guards and Ben McLemore to recover from an 0-9 Round of 32.
The Wolverines really impressed me the way they took care of Shaka Smart's Rams, but I have to root for the Jayhawks or else my bracket can be thrown away. Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Glenn Robinson III are nearly impossible to contain, at the same time. The Jayhawks only advantage here is that they are all much more experienced than this young Michigan team that starts three freshman and not a single senior. Freshman sharpshooter Nik Staukas has yet to get it going and the longer that takes, the better chance Kansas has to advance to the Elite 8. Both teams rarely go to the bench so if the tempo gets going, I think the Wolverines have a great shot of knocking down the 1 seed. Let's hope that Kansas can control the tempo and not run themselves out of the tournament!
PRE ROUND OF 64
The South Region is lead by the Kansas Jayhawks who finished 29-5 and the Big 12 champions. They have a tough road after their 1st round matchup with Western Kentucky as they have to face the winner of North Carolina and Villanova. The Tar Heels are playing their best basketball at the moment and the Wildcats beat Louisville, Syracuse, Marquette and Georgetown during Big East play. If they are able to survive they will most likely face VCU or Michigan to advance to the Elite 8. Georgetown is the 2 seed in the South and have a bit easier path, but will most like face the Florida Gators in the Sweet 16.
TV Schedule (EST):
(W) 4 Michigan vs. 13 South Dakota St. - 7:15 p.m. CBS
(W) 5 VCU vs. 12 Akron - 9:45 p.m. CBS
2 Georgetown vs. (W) 15 Florida Gulf Coast - 6:50 p.m. TBS
(W) 8 North Carolina vs. 9 Villanova - 7:20 p.m. TNT
(W) 3 Florida vs. 14 Northwestern St. - 7:27 p.m. truTV
(W) 7 San Diego St. vs. 10 Oklahoma - 9:20 p.m. TBS
(W) 1 Kansas vs. 16 Western Kentucky - 9:50 p.m. TNT
6 UCLA vs. (W) 11 Minnesota - 9:57 p.m. truTV
1 Kansas vs. 16 Western KentuckyPick Distribution - Yahoo (98% Kansas) ESPN (98% Kansas) CBS (99% Kansas)
- Kansas will be on the more popular Final Four teams and maybe even National Champions. They will have to get by North Carolina in the Round of 32, VCU or Michigan in the Sweet 16, and most likely Georgetown in the Elite 8. Not an easy road, but they have the right players and coach to do it.
- Kansas can win it all because of Ben McLemore, Jeff Whithey and Bill Self. The Jayhawks are a top 5 defensive team and outside of McLemore, their key players have all been to the big dance before. This is a poised team destined to make the National Championship for the second season in a row.
Pick Distribution - Yahoo (97% Georgetown) ESPN (97% Georgetown) CBS (99% Georgetown)
- The only real threat to the Hoyas, en route to the Elite 8 is Florida, but I don't see them being much of a problem for Georgetown.
- Georgetown will make a run because of Otto Porter Jr. The Hoyas are another top defensive team in the nation, but they are not a well rounded team offensively. The Gators could cause some problems in a Sweet 16 matchup but that's only if Georgetown decides to play like Florida, instead of making Florida play like Georgetown.
Pick Distribution - Yahoo (96% Florida) ESPN (97% Florida) CBS (98% Florida)
- Florida is a safe pick to ride to the Sweet 16, but Georgetown should end their tournament.
- The Gators could run the South Region and blow up some brackets as just 18% of Yahoo & ESPN brackets have Florida beating Georgetown. They can score in bunches and play solid defense, but recent loses to Missouri, Tennessee, Kentucky and Ole Miss have me skeptical.
Pick Distribution - Yahoo (93% Michigan) ESPN (92% Michigan) CBS (94% Michigan)
- The Wolverines did not lose a game until January 13 and have played up and down ball since. VCU could prove to be a tough matchup in the Round of 32.
- Michigan PG Trey Burke could be the best in the Nation, but the Wolverines are just 13-7 since January 1. 5 of those loses came against ranked opponents, compared to just 3 wins.
Pick Distribution - Yahoo (88% VCU) ESPN (89% VCU) CBS (90% VCU)
- A VCU-Michigan matchup will be fun to watch but it won't help much because Kansas should beat either team in the Sweet 16.
Pick Distribution - Yahoo (54% UCLA) ESPN (52% UCLA) CBS (50% UCLA)
- Not impressed with UCLA, so I am taking the upset. Florida will beat either team in the Round of 32.
- Without freshman Jordan Adams, UCLA has to rely heavily on fellow freshman, Shabazz Muhammed. Senior PG Larry Drew II will have to find open men and look to create his own shot as well. He rarely shoots the ball 10+ times a game but he needs to be aggressive, penetrate and find easy layups, be it for himself or a teammate. Kyle Anderson is another freshman on this UCLA team that needs to play at a higher level and shoot better. He is just 15 for his last 41 shot attempts.
- For Minnesota, sophomore Andre Hollins could be the difference maker. He can light it up from downtown and does a good job of getting to the line and knocking down free throws. 6th year senior Trevor Mbakwe could dominate the boards in this one.
Pick Distribution - Yahoo (53% San Diego State) ESPN (57% San Diego State) CBS (58% San Diego State)
- A toss up game with little implication on the rest of the bracket. Georgetown will defeat either opponent in the next round.
- Senior Romero Osby should be able to lead Oklahoma to a victory. States Jamaal Franklin is a problem but if he isn't playing his best basketball, San Diego is in trouble.
Pick Distribution - Yahoo (69% North Carolina) ESPN (68% North Carolina) CBS (70% North Carolina)
- Both teams had interesting seasons but North Carolina is the better of the teams at the moment. Either way Kansas ends their Cinderella dreams in the Round of 32.
- Marcus Paige will be the key to a UNC victory. The freshman PG will have to push the ball and play keep up the tempo, while playing under control and making smart decisions. Sophomore P.J. Hairston will have to continue to knock down his 3 pointers and his free throws while the offense runs through him. James Michael McAdoo will have the difficult job of keeping Mouphtaou Yarou off the boards.
4 Michigan Wolverines - They would have to beat VCU & Kansas to bust up some brackets, so not likely but still a possibility!
Potential National Champions: