Skip to content

South Region Preview: Can anyone stop the Florida Gators?

Mar 17, 2014, 8:59 AM EDT

source:

MORE REGIONAL PREVIEWSEast | Midwest | West

No surprise here as Florida got the No. 1 overall seed and took the top line in the South Region, setting them up for a path through Orlando and Memphis on the way to North Texas.

Here’s the other thing: the way the bracket breaks down is as favorable for Florida as it is for any No. 1 seed in the bracket. The shouldn’t be pushed by Spencer Dinwiddie-less Colorado or a Pitt team that has beaten exactly one quality team this season, they matchup as will with UCLA as they do any team in the country, Syracuse hasn’t played well in a month and a half and Kansas may not make it out of the first weekend without Joel Embiid in the lineup.

It’s not a cakewalk — it never is at this time of year — but when you combine the fact that Florida is the best team in the country with being coached by a guy that’s what two titles and took a team led by Kenny Boynton to the Elite 8 the past three seasons, and what you get is a Final Four favorite and a serious National Title contender.

MORERead through all of our bracket analysis here

Three story lines to watch

  • 1. Joel Embiid’s back: Kansas’ star center and a future top three draft pick, Embiid missed the last two games of the regular season and the Big 12 tournament with a stress fracture in his spine. He’s not expected to play in the first weekend of the tournament, either. Are the Jayhawks a contender without him?
  • 2. Will Syracuse ever be back?: The Orange won their first 25 games of the season. Since then, they’ve lost five of their last seven and while their offense has completely stalled. Is this as simple as the Orange being in a slump — they’re playing like their confidence is completely shot — or is their identity that of a horrid offensive basketball team?
  • 3. Will UCLA’s defense be enough to make a run?: This Bruin team is as talented and entertaining as any in Westwood since Steve Lavin was still slicking his hair back. Kyle Anderson, the 6-foot-9 point guard nicknamed Slo-mo, is the engine that makes their uptempo offense run. But in order for the Bruins to make a run, they need their defense to play the way it did during the Pac-12 tournament.

The Elite 8 matchup is…?: No. 1 Florida vs. No. 2 Kansas

source:

Getty Images

There are going to be a lot of people picking No. 7 seed New Mexico to upset Kansas in the Round of 32, and I’ll be honest, I might end up doing the same once I officially fill out my bracket. New Mexico is playing as well as they have all season long, their offense is built around a pair of talented, physical veteran post players in Cameron Bairstow and Alex Kirk, and Kansas, who hasn’t played defense in a couple of weeks, will likely be without Joel Embiid. But it’s worth noting that Stanford actually matches up very will with the Lobos in the Round of 64, and Kansas is still coached by Bill Self and will still feature a trio of first round picks, including potential No. 1 pick Andrew Wiggins.

MOREEight teams that can win the national title.

Final Four sleeper: New Mexico

Back to the Lobos, there are three names that you really need to know with this group: Cameron Bairstow, Alex Kirk and Kendall Williams. Bairstow is the best post-scorer in the country, a behemoth on the block that is the nation’s single-most improved player. Kirk is a pick-and-pop seven-footer with some size and the ability to block shots. Williams is the reigning MWC Player of the Year and is having a better season this year despite barely being in contention for the award. He takes, and makes, a lot of big shots.

Best opening round matchups

  • No. 12 Stephen F. Austin vs. No. 5 VCU: Talk about an intriguing clash of styles. VCU runs their ‘Havoc’ pressure defense, hounding their opponents for 94 feet for 40 minutes. SFA? They played more of a half-court style, but they pressure on the wings and jump passing lanes. Both rank top three nationally in defensive turnover percentage.
  • No. 11 Dayton vs. No. 6 Ohio State: A little in-state rivalry? Dayton’s Jordan Sibert vs. the team he transferred away from. Thad Matta can’t duck Archie Miller now.

Matchups to root for

  • No. 1 Florida vs. No. 2 Kansas: Arguably the two best coaches in college basketball. The best team, a senior laden group without much NBA potential, vs. a team with possibly the top two picks in the NBA Draft. Just hope Embiid is healthy for it.

The studs you know about

  • Andrew Wiggins, Kansas: He’s been overanalyzed, but remember: he’s the leading scorer, third-leading rebounder and best perimeter defender on a top five team.
  • Jordan Adams, UCLA: Anderson gets all the publicity for the Bruins, but Jordan Adams was the team’s leading scorer this season.
  • Scottie Wilbekin, Florida: He’s terrific in the pick-and-roll and a killer in crunch-time. He’s the go-to guy for Florida at the end of games.

MOREAll-Americans | Player of the Year | Coach of the Year | Freshman of the Year

The studs the nation will find out about

  • Cameron Bairstow, New Mexico: I’m telling you, he’s a beast now. You’ll see.
  • David Brown, Western Michigan: Brown is the leading scorer for WMU and a guy good enough to carry WMU to a Round of 64 win.

Upsets that ARE happening

  • No. 7 New Mexico over No. 2 Kansas: Here’s the thinking: without Embiid, the Jayhawks can’t stop Bairstow and Kirk inside, and Deshawn Delaney is athletic enough to keep Wiggins in check. Crazier things have happens.

Upsets that AREN’T happening

  • Anyone over No. 1 Florida: They are the best team in the country and they don’t have an exploitable flaw. You have to go out and outplay them on both ends, and that’s not happening in this region.

Feeling like gambling?

  • No. 14 Western Michigan over No. 3 Syracuse: The Broncos are a tough matchup, they have a star guard and they can get to the free throw line, but to beat the Orange they’ll have to protect the ball and score in the lane. That will be tough, but hey, the Orange are sputtering enough offensively that you never know what will happen.

CBT Predictions: No. 1 Florida rolls

Latest Posts
  1. Report: Mark Tollefs0n transfers to Arizona, eligible immediately

    Apr 24, 2015, 8:51 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Kaleb Tarczewski decided to return to Arizona earlier in the day.

  2. Duke raises 2015 national championship banner (VIDEO)

    Apr 24, 2015, 8:15 PM EDT

    Screen Shot 2015-04-24 at 8.03.53 PM

    The fifth banner is now hanging in Cameron Indoor Stadium.

  3. DePaul loses junior guard, incoming recruit

    Apr 24, 2015, 6:56 PM EDT

    AP AP

    DePaul lost a junior guard and a three-star forward (for the second time) on Friday evening.

  4. Shannon Evans transfers to Arizona State, reunites with Bobby Hurley

    Apr 24, 2015, 4:21 PM EDT

    AP AP

    The second team All-MAC guard will have two years of eligibility left.

  5. Florida forward Chris Walker officially entering NBA Draft

    Apr 24, 2015, 2:35 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Walker’s career didn’t pan out the way anyone expected, but he’s headed to the pro game after two seasons.

  6. 2015 College Basketball Updated Early Entry List

    Apr 24, 2015, 2:15 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Who’s going pro? Who’s returning to school? Who are we still waiting to hear from?

  7. Providence announces return of point guard Kris Dunn for 2015-16 season

    Apr 24, 2015, 1:52 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    A roster that will be both young and talented returns its leader as Dunn will be back for another season.

  8. Five-star guard Malik Newman commits to Mississippi State

    Apr 24, 2015, 1:14 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    It was reported earlier this week that Newman would be headed to Starkville, and he made it official Friday afternoon.

  9. Arizona center Kaleb Tarczewski announces return for senior season

    Apr 24, 2015, 12:55 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    The return of “Zeus” means that Arizona will have one returning starter from last year’s 34-4 team.

  10. UPDATED: 2015-2016 College Basketball Way-Too-Early Preseason Rankings

    Apr 24, 2015, 12:16 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP Photo

    The return of Buddy Hield pushes previously unranked Oklahoma into our way too early rankings.

  11. Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield returning for senior season

    Apr 24, 2015, 11:34 AM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    The reigning Big 12 Player of the Year has some unfinished business to attend to next season.

  12. Kentucky forward Alex Poythress returning for senior season

    Apr 24, 2015, 11:15 AM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Poythress played in eight games before suffering a torn ACL in practice.

  13. Former Coppin State guard headed to Pittsburgh for final season

    Apr 24, 2015, 9:35 AM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Sterling Smith averaged 13.9 points and 4.9 rebounds per game at Coppin State last season.

  14. Louisiana forward Shawn Long to return for senior season

    Apr 23, 2015, 9:22 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Long averaged a double-double for the third consecutive season in 2014-15. He’ll hang around to make a run at a fourth.

  15. Arizona forward Stanley Johnson enters 2015 NBA Draft

    Apr 23, 2015, 8:01 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Johnson led the Wildcats in scoring last season while also averaging 6.5 rebounds per contest.

  16. Former George Mason signee becomes Minnesota’s sixth 2015 addition

    Apr 23, 2015, 6:50 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Minnesota had a need for added depth on the wing, and the addition of Ahmad Gilbert helps in that regard.

  17. VCU lands former Oral Roberts guard Korey Billbury

    Apr 23, 2015, 5:01 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    A second team All-Summit League selection last season, Billbury will be eligible immediately for VCU.

  18. California guard Tyrone Wallace to return for senior season

    Apr 23, 2015, 4:05 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Wallace led the Golden Bears in points, rebounds and assists last season.