The Cats might not be in the NCAA Tournament, but that doesn’t mean we still can’t have a rooting interest. Over the next two days, KSR will preview each region of the bracket, helping you figure out who to cheer for, and what the least offensive result would be. We’ll get through this together. First, we looked at the Midwest Bracket, aka the “Region of Death,” then the West Region, the South Region, and finally, the East Region.
Cinderella in waiting: Davidson
Yes, this is my alma mater and yes, I’m a homer. But Davidson is a good team. Sure, they don’t have Stephen Curry anymore, but they’re a veteran squad that deserved a higher seed. Davidson’s offense is nothing to sniff at, and Jake Cohen and De’Mon Brooks are legit. Senior Nik Cochran shot 48.5% from behind the arc this season, and Davidson is the best free throw shooting team in the country. They’ve also won 17 straight games and have one of college basketball’s best coaches in Bob McKillop. Add in the fact that Marquette is over-seeded and you’ve got a recipe for an upset if Davidson can control the post. Plus, they’re Wildcats, too.
Team to adopt: Miami (FL)
Has there been a more fun team to follow this year than Miami? Miami’s buzz fizzed out a little after they lost to Duke and Georgia Tech, but they still won the ACC regular season and tournament championships. They’re a well-balanced squad who plays gritty defense led by what may end up being the National Coach of the Year in Jim Larranaga. Need another reason to cheer for them? They slapped the floor during a rout of Duke, at the request of alum Warren Sapp.
1. Shane Larkin, Miami
“Shane Larkin is Barry Larkin’s son” is this tournament’s “Anthony Davis used to be a 6’3″ point guard.” Larkin has become a media darling, due not only to his famous father, but for his generous play on the court. Larkin averages 14.6 points, 3.9 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game, and is the heart and soul of the Hurricanes. He shoots 40 percent from behind the arc and when he’s on a roll, watch out. Larkin put up 28 vs. North Carolina in the ACC Championship game.
2. Anthony Bennett, UNLV
Remember him? The former UK recruit has had an up and down freshman season, but he is an absolute beast. Bennett averages 16.1 points and 8.1 rebounds and has the body to power through in the post and clean up on the boards.
3. De’Mon Brooks, Davidson
The junior forward averages 13.8 points, 6.2 rebounds, and is coming off a 24-point performance in the SoCon Conference Championship. Brooks and Cohen are Davidson’s most talented players, and will give Marquette’s Davante Gardner all he can handle. If Marquette focuses on containing Cohen’s versatility, look for Brooks to have a major impact.
Best possible outcome for UK fans: Anyone but Indiana gets to the Final Four.
Worst possible outcome for UK fans: Indiana gets to the Final Four.
Heart prediction: Davidson gets to the Sweet Sixteen but falls to Miami, who beats Indiana to go to the Final Four.
Head prediction: Boo hoo hoo Hoosiers. 🙁