CCS March Madness Regional Breakdown – Southeast
Most Overseeded: Florida – #2 seed
Florida comes from the weak SEC, and in my opinion should be a 4 seed at best. This team lost to the University of Kentucky twice this season (once in the regular season, and again in the conference tournament finals) and UK ended up a 4 seed. While they can make some noise with one of the best players you’ve never heard of, Chandler Parsons, I don’t expect Florida to make a lot of noise this March.
Most Underseeded: Michigan State – #10 Seed
Michigan State largely under-achieved this season, but finished strong with a win over Purdue in the Big 10 Tournament. This team can be sneaky, and has a proven head coach in Tom Izzo who has nine (!!!) trips to the sweet 16 or beyond since he became MSU’s head coach only 16 years ago. They may not be the team that opposing fans feared at the beginning of the season, but we’ve heard that all too much in Izzo’s tenure as Head Coach.
Upset Alert: #4 Wisconsin Vs. #13 Belmont
Wisconsin is coming off a horrendous loss against Penn State, in which they lost despite only giving up 36 points. Belmont boasts a backcourt that features a deep team that won the Atlantic Sun Tournament. Wisconsin could rebound, as Head Coach Bo Ryan is tournament proven, but Belmont should scare them silly.
Surprise Team: St. John’s – Big East
Just look at St. John’s wins: Pittsburgh, Duke, Villanova, UConn, Georgetown et al. They’ve had some bad losses to couple these impressive wins, which bumped them down to a #6 seed. However, if they play up to their level of talent under Head Coach Steve Lavin, there’s no reason this team can’t advance deep into this tournament.
Best Player you’ve Never Heard Of: Frank Hassell – Forward – Old Dominion
Hassell was a first team all-CAA Selection who possesses the rebounding skills needed to win in March. Though he’s limited offensively, he can hit his free throws (over 73% on the season) and nearly averaged a double-double with 15 points and 9.6 rebounds per game this season.
Interesting Fact: Belmont’s Backcourt – Atlantic Sun Conference
Every single guard and swingman for the Belmont Bruins has a positive assist-to-turnover ratio. In the NCAA Tournament, taking care of the ball is at a paramount.
1-Pittsburgh Vs. 16 Play-In Winner
With all the talk of who got left out in a weak field that’s already too large, you would think someone would bring up the point that no 16 seed has ever beat a #1 seed in the first place. That won’t change in this region, as the Pitt Panthers will roll whichever team wins the Play-In game.
2-Florida Vs. 15-UC Santa Barbara
#15 seeds have a record of 4-88 in the NCAA Tournament. Though I don’t expect that number to improve in this region, I do think UCSB can hang with Florida enough to help the nation realize how over-ranked the Gators are this post-season. Florida will prevail in the end with the help of free throws.
3-Brigham Young Vs. 14-Wofford
Ahh, the enigma that is BYU. Now that Brandon Davies is off the team, no one really knows what to make of Cougars chances of a deep playoff run. Well, I can tell you those chances aren’t good, but they should get by Wofford, providing Jimmer continues making three’s from 30+ feet out with ease.
4-Wisconsin Vs. 13-Belmont
Could this be the biggest upset of the Southeast Region? After Wisconsin put up 33 points in a pathetic loss to Penn State in the Big 10’s opening round, I have no faith in them beating an extremely efficient Belmont team. It will be low-scoring game that won’t be much fun to watch, but I expect Belmont to pull off possibly the biggest upset of the tournament.
5-Kansas State Vs. 12-Utah State
I’ve seen a lot of analysts pick this specific 5/12 match-up to be the upset watch, but I’m not buying a bit of it. Kansas Sate is hot (winning 8 of their last 9) and Jacob Pullen is one of the best players in the country. Utah State can shoot, no doubt, but it won’t be enough to upset a Kansas State team ready to make some noise.
6-Saint John’s Vs. 11-Gonzaga
Dwight Hardy and crew should take care of a Gonzaga team who just isn’t as strong as some of the Bulldog Teams of the past. Gonzaga enters this tournament red-hot, though, winning 10 of their last 11. Though I believe it will be close, I just don’t think the Red Storm will give this one up this early on.
7-UCLA Vs. 10-Michigan State
Jeckyll, meet Hyde. This is one of the most intriguing match-ups in the opening round, in my opinion. Both of these teams have been up and down all season long. When you have a match-up this undecided, I tend to go with the team with the better coach. That’s why Michigan State and Tom Izzo advance past UCLA in round 1.
8-Butler Vs. 9-Old Dominion
Butler is coming off a year in which they nearly shocked the world, and ended up with a 2nd place trophy after a close loss to Duke in the National Championship. However, I don’t expect them to get out of the first round this time around. ODU has a better record against tourney teams, a better RPI, and a better overall record.
——-Sweet 16 Projection——–
1-Pittsburgh Vs. 5-Kansas State
2-Florida Vs. 6-St. John’s
Don’t forget to enter your Brackets into the CCS March Madness Pool.
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