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, and now, the South Region.
The South Region could feature a round of 32 matchup between Kansas and North Carolina, aka the Co’Colars war. So far, the Jayhawks have won both games against the former coach, but North Carolina has managed to turn his squad around into a tournament team that could be capable of pulling off an upset. From Western Kentucky to Bill Self’s hairpiece to Tubby Smith’s dance moves to Shaka Smart, there are a lot of fun stuff going on in the South Region, so let’s go.
Cinderella in waiting: Minnesota
Yes, I know Minnesota lost eleven of its last sixteen games, which caused many media members at the SEC Tournament to question why they weren’t on the bubble with Kentucky, but they ended up drawing a very favorable opponent in UCLA. Tubby Smith’s squad is 17th in the nation in rebounds per game (38.8), and UCLA is the worst rebounding team in the Pac-12. Plus, UCLA will be without their second best scorer, Jordan Adams, who broke his right foot last Friday. More Tubby Smith victory dances, please.
Team to adopt: Florida
I know a lot of people have Florida going to their Final Fours, but I don’t see it. The Gators are ridiculously talented, and very capable of manhandling a team, as we saw in Gainesville, but they’re equally as prone to choking when games get close, as we saw in Lexington. Because they’re an SEC squad and one of the only great wins we’ve had this year, I’ll cheer for them, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they stumble against Georgetown in the Sweet Sixteen.
1. Otto Porter, Georgetown
After Georgetown lost Greg Whittington earlier this season, Otto “Ottomatic” Porter took over, increasing his scoring by six points a game and carrying Georgetown in some crucial moments. The sophomore forward is versatile, averages 16.3 points and 7.4 rebounds per game, and basically won the game for the Hoyas when he scored 33 of their 57 points to get a win over Syracuse.
2. Trey Burke, Michigan
Many think Burke will be named National Player of the Year after averaging 19.2 points and 6.7 assists per game this season for Michigan. He is the go-to guy in clutch situations for the Wolverines and can do it all, from stroking it outside to driving the lane.
3. Nate Wolters, South Dakota State
Wolters is fourth in the nation in scoring with 22.5 points a game and when he’s hot, can totally change a game. In February, Wolters put up 53 poitns against IUPUI-Fort Wayne, and if he’s rolling, South Dakota State could upset Michigan. That is, if he doesn’t have a cold from wearing short sleeves in the snow.
1. Kansas’ overall win count
According to UK, Kansas is only 12 wins behind the Cats in all-time victories (2,111 – 2,099). We don’t need them making that margin any smaller.
2. Jeff Withey, Kansas
I don’t really mind Withey, I just thought this picture was funny. With Nerlens Noel injured, he’s the frontrunner for Defensive Player of the year, and averages 13.6 points, 8.4 rebounds and 3.8 blocks per game. If we want Kansas out early, someone will have to contain him.
3. North Carolina
Best possible outcome for UK fans: Florida stands tall when games get close and advances to the Final Four, giving UK fans conference pride and the teensiest bit of bragging rights since we beat them a few weeks ago. Also, home state Western Kentucky does its fam a favor by knocking off Kansas in the first round.
Worst possible outcome for UK fans: Kansas breezes through the regional and gets even closer to our all-time wins mark.
Heart prediction: Florida advances to the Final Four
Head prediction: Georgetown advances to the Final Four