Monday, March 18, 2013

NCAA South Region: Hoya Destroyas

Ball So Hard Sports is breaking down each of the 4 regions before giving you our Final Four and title picks as well as unveiling our full bracket for you to compete against. We've already covered the Midwest, East and West Regions, leaving the South for the finale, where the Kansas Jayhawks look to return to the Final Four after a runner-up finish last season.

Let me start off by saying this bracket is impossible for me as a fan. My SDSU Aztecs are here as well as pre-bracket favorites Georgetown and Florida, plus Michigan, who I always love to see make a deep run. I would love to put the Aztecs deep into the tournament, but if I'm going to be a blogger, I have to check my alumni card at the door, right? I haven't even mentioned the #1 seeded Jayhawks who could be coming together just in time for a big run. Oh, and there is another team in the mix that everyone wants to pick as I watch the prediction shows and segments this morning: VCU.

Favorites:  Kansas for me is a strong choice to return to the Final Four. Ben McLemore is a star just waiting to lift off and do big things in the NBA. This could be his national coming out party for those that haven't seen him. Georgetown didn't win the Big East but they were the class of the conference all year and head coach JT3 has the Hoyas primed and ready for March. Michigan held the top spot in the polls for a hot minute this year and is from the lauded Big 10. Florida may be one of the most complete teams in the tournament and despite a disappointing SEC title game loss could be poised to bring Billy Donovan back to the Final Four. You can't go wrong with any of these 4 if your bracket takes that route.

Sleepers: Let's just start with everyone's favorite sleeper: VCU. Shaka Smart and his national darlings are staring at everyone from this 5 seed and people think he has them ready to head back to the Final Four. I don't think he can run a gauntlet that could include beating Michigan, Kansas and Georgetown though. North Carolina came on late and made the ACC title game, but will the weeklong hype of playing Kansas in Kansas City be too much for Roy Williams guys, causing them to lose to Villanova in the first round? Last, let's talk San Diego State. Steve Fisher knows how to win in March, but hasn't done so since coming to SDSU. Jamaal Franklin is a special talent and if he, Chase Tapley and James Rahon are hitting their shots, this is a team that is capable of playing with anyone. They have trouble with great two-guard lineups, shoot too many threes and settle for jumpers, but if they learn from their last two tournaments, don't be surprised to see them playing on the second weekend.

Best First Round Game: UNC/Nova is going to be a close matchup and the hype of a Kansas game is hanging over UNC. UCLA and Minnesota may be playing for their coaches' jobs. I love the SDSU vs. Lon Kruger reunion but I think Michigan vs. the other SDSU is the one to watch here. Michigan doesn't handle PG's well and low and behold, Nate Wolters, a Wooden finalist, is ready for you to meet him, nation. I don't know that they'll pull the upset, but don't be shocked if they send Big Blue home early.

Best Late Round Potential Game: While I'd like to see UCLA/SDSU, I think the idea of VCU's press vs. a team that doesn't turn the ball over like Michigan would be fun to watch. Michigan is young,  with no seniors in their 8 man rotation, but 4 freshmen. This would be a huge contrast of styles and a fun one to see take place with an Elite 8 berth on the line.

Ball So Hard Sports Pick: Obviously we're thinking SDSU here, but going with Georgetown to head to Atlanta. Originally had Michigan here, but youth may hurt them as we saw late in the season. A good sign for the Hoyas: the last Big East team to beat the Aztecs in the tourney was UConn two years ago and they kept on winning until the next came down.

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