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. Three Dayton players dealing with health issues as practices approach

    Oct 1, 2014, 10:40 PM EDT

    Gary Bell, Dyshawn Pierre AP

    Chemistry was a key component in Dayton’s run to the Elite Eight. They’ll begin the 2014-15 season looking to rebuild that without three expected contributors.

  2. UConn’s tallest Husky wins annual preseason race

    Oct 1, 2014, 8:59 PM EDT

    Amida Brimah AP

    Amida Brimah averaged 4.1 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game as a freshman, and he’s fully recovered from offseason shoulder surgery.

  3. Big Ten sends recommendations to NCAA regarding student-athlete welfare

    Oct 1, 2014, 7:14 PM EDT

    Jim Delany AP

    The Big Ten is the first of the five conferences granted autonomy to send recommendations to the NCAA.

  4. Missouri’s most productive returnee dealing with minor knee issue

    Oct 1, 2014, 6:06 PM EDT

    Johnathan Williams III, Tavario Miller AP

    With Missouri’s top three scorers from last season having moved on, Johnathan Williams III will be a key figure in 2014-15.

  5. Long Beach State loses starting guard to torn ACL

    Oct 1, 2014, 4:45 PM EDT

    A.J. Spencer, Michael Williams, Josh Gentry AP

    Spencer averaged 9.1 points and 3.2 rebounds per game last season.

  6. Two Iowa State guards suspended for the season’s first two games

    Oct 1, 2014, 4:07 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Both with charged with drunk driving offenses during the offseason.

  7. Frank Haith lands first commitment as head coach at Tulsa

    Oct 1, 2014, 1:39 PM EDT

    Frank Haith AP

    Haith earned a commitment from a three-star point guard from Western New York.

  8. Wichita State’s Fred Van Vleet on giving back to community: ‘Kids only listen to what they see now’

    Oct 1, 2014, 11:52 AM EDT

    Fred VanVleet, Ka'Darryl Bell AP

    Van Vleet has been attending speaking engagements this offseason, trying to give back to the youth.

  9. Oklahoma State lands commitment from elite point guard in 2015

    Oct 1, 2014, 11:02 AM EDT

    Kelly Kline/Under Armor Kelly Kline/Under Armor

    Jawun Evans is one of the top three point guards in the class.

  10. NCAA twitter account effortlessly trolls MLB during playoff opener

    Oct 1, 2014, 9:55 AM EDT

    Harvard v Arizona Getty Images

    Do you think the MLB needs some ice for that burn?

  11. Former Baylor commit suing former high school for alleged grade manipulation

    Sep 30, 2014, 11:00 PM EDT

    Scott Drew AP

    A former Baylor commit is suing his former high school for allegedly altering his grades.

  12. Five-star 2015 guard to visit SEC school this weekend

    Sep 30, 2014, 8:50 PM EDT

    FIBA U17 World Championships - Dubai Getty Images

    Can an SEC program reel in a top-5 player in the 2015 class during a weekend visit?

  13. IUPUI unveils new court design (PHOTO)

    Sep 30, 2014, 6:20 PM EDT

    IUPUI athletics IUPUI athletics

    IUPUI unveiled a new court design this week.

  14. Western Kentucky fans pick new uniform design (PHOTO)

    Sep 30, 2014, 5:10 PM EDT

    Western Kentucky mascot Big Red AP

    Western Kentucky fans were given three options and selected one for the upcoming season.

  15. John Calipari hiring an analytics director is smart, necessary, strictly for his players

    Sep 30, 2014, 3:55 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    NBA teams know all about efficiency stats and advanced analytics. College freshmen and sophomores may not.

  16. Mixtape for elite 2015 PG Jawun Evans (VIDEO)

    Sep 30, 2014, 1:56 PM EDT

    Kelly Kline/Under Armor Kelly Kline/Under Armor

    Evans may be the best point guard in the Class of 2015, but it’s up for debate.

  17. Washington State lands commitment from in-state center

    Sep 30, 2014, 1:17 PM EDT

    ernie kent AP

    Ernie Kent lands his third commitment in the Class of 2015.