2014 March Madness: South Region Predictions

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Mar 13, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas Jayhawks head coach Bill Self talks to forward Tarik Black (25) and guard Andrew Wiggins (22) in a timeout during the second half against the Oklahoma State Cowboys in the second round of the Big 12 Conference college basketball tournament at Sprint Center. Kansas won 77-70 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports


(1) Florida Gators vs. (16) Albany Great Danes

Thursday, March 20 @ 4:10 p.m. on TBS

How They Got Here: Florida enters the tournament as the top overall seed, having completed a perfect run through the SEC (18-0) and finishing with a 32-2 record. The Gators have won 26 games in a row, with their last loss came at the hands of Shabazz Napier and UConn back on December 2, 2013.

Analysis: Legend has it that a 16 seed has never upset a 1 seed in the history of March Madness. Given that Florida is a top 3 team per kenpom.com and Albany doesn’t crack the top 175, it is probably safe to say that this streak will continue.

(8) Colorado Buffaloes vs. (9) Pittsburgh Panthers

Thursday, March 20 @ 1:40 p.m. on TBS

How They Got Here: Colorado arrives at March Madness by way of a Pac-12 at-large bid, the result of a 23-11 (10-8) season that ended in a conference tournament semifinals beat down by Arizona. Pitt capped off their first tour through the ACC with an upset of then #15 North Carolina in the conference quarterfinals, only to lose to eventual champion Virginia in the semifinals. Their 25-9 (11-7) season warranted an at-large bid and #9 seed in the NCAA tournament.

Analysis: The Buffaloes are the second worst non-automatic qualifier team to make the tournament according to Ken Pomeroy’s Pythagorean metric, which explains why Pitt is an early 5.5 point favorite. Colorado was highly regarded given their top 15 strength of schedule, but they leave much to be desired on both sides of the ball. Expect Pitt’s defense to expose the Buff’s offensive holes and pull out the victory on Thursday.

(5) VCU Rams vs. (12) Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks

Friday, March 21 @ 7:27 p.m. on truTV

How They Got Here: Shaka Smart & VCU (26-8, 12-4) received an at-large bid out of the Atlantic 10 conference, after falling to St. Joseph’s in the conference finals. Smart defended the A-10’s six tournament team’s by claiming his daughter was cuter than Coach K’s daughter… The Lumberjacks went 31-2 on the season, with a perfect 18-0 run through the Southland conference. They own the second longest active winning streak in the country with 28, trailing only Wichita State’s 34.

Analysis: First, let’s clear the air: Stephen F. Austin attributes its namesake to one of the founding fathers of Texas (who may or may not have been a wrestler that liked to slam beers). SFA enters March Madness as one of the hottest teams in the country and if that weren’t enough, the Lumberjacks drew a 12 seed. The 12 seeds have had an upset win in 23 of the past 25 tournaments, which would put most 5 seeds on high alert. However, VCU’s vaunted Havoc defense currently ranks 2nd in the country in Defensive Efficiency, and that should be enough to help the Rams advance.

(4) UCLA Bruins vs. (13) Tulsa Golden Hurricane

Friday, March 21 @ 9:57 p.m. on truTV

How They Got Here: UCLA capped off a 26-8 (12-6) season with a victory in the Pac-12 title game against the Arizona Wildcats. Tulsa (21-12, 13-3) punched their ticket to March Madness by winning the Conference USA title over the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs.

Analysis: Can anyone explain logically why the Tulsa mascot is the Golden Hurricane? Last I checked, Tulsa was in Oklahoma and about 500 miles from the Gulf of Mexico–the school is located in the heart of Tornado Alley of all places!! I guess it’s excusable to mix-up natural disasters…and speaking of disasters, the Bruins will roll into the weekend with an easy win.

(6) Ohio State Buckeyes vs. (11) Dayton Flyers

Thursday, March 20 @ 12:15 p.m. on CBS

How They Got Here: Ohio State lost to their arch-rival Michigan in the Big 10 semifinals, a sour ending to 25-9 (10-8) season. Dayton, another one of those pesky Atlantic 10 teams, lost to eventual champion St. Joseph’s in the conference semifinals. The Flyers finished the season with a 23-10 (10-6) record.

Analysis: This in-state rivalry marks the official start of March Madness on Thursday afternoon, though many Flyers fans are downplaying their hatred for the opponent. “I mean, I uh, went to Dayton, so I’m going to pull for them,” says current junior Tommy Thompson. He continued, “But I totally grew up an Ohio State fan, so if OSU wins, then I’ll still have a team to root for, ya know?” When asked if he valued a Dayton National Championship over a Buckeye National Championship, Thompson began stuttering uncontrollably and walked away from the interview. OSU advances.

(3) Syracuse Orange vs. (14) Western Michigan Broncos

Nov 28, 2013; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh (center) looks on during the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers during a NFL football game on Thanksgiving at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Thursday, March 20 @ 2:45 p.m. on CBS

How They Got Here: Syracuse finished their first tour through the ACC with a 27-5 (14-4) record, capped off with a loss to NC State in the conference quarterfinals. The Broncos (23-9, 14-4) earned their ticket to the Big Dance by winning the MAC, defeating Toledo in the conference championship game.

Analysis: Let’s start with a fun fact about Western Michigan, since they stand little to no chance in the actual basketball game. Did you know that famous Bronco alumni include Tim Allen, John Saunders, and Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh? You’re welcome. Cuse wins big behind their 2-3 zone.

(7) New Mexico Lobos vs. (10) Stanford Cardinal

Friday, March 21 @ 1:40 p.m. on TBS

How They Got Here: The Lobos won the Mountain West Conference after a 27-6 (15-3) season. The Cardinal (21-12, 10-8) lost to eventual Pac-12 champion UCLA in the conference semifinals.

Analysis: For those of you that don’t habla espanol, Lobos is Spanish for wolves. Wolves are native to the wilderness and typically hunt hoofed animals as prey. Stanford’s mascot is a tree, which doesn’t really have a single thing to do with Cardinal unless they are referring to the birds, which could nest in the tree. But in that case, why wouldn’t they just have a bird as their mascot. Good thing Vegas can make sense of all of this; the books favor the wolves by 3.5. And so it’s settled.

(2) Kansas Jayhawks vs. (15) Eastern Kentucky Colonels

Friday, March 21 @ 4:10 p.m. on TBS

How They Got Here: Kansas (24-9, 14-4), one of the four teams that participated in the Champions Classic back in November (an event that I hope continues year after year), ended the season with a loss to Iowa State in the Big 12 semifinals. Eastern Kentucky capped off a 24-9 (11-5) season by capturing the Ohio Valley conference championship.

Analysis: Let’s start with another fun fact about a little known school. Did you know that Dan Patrick played basketball for the Eastern Kentucky Colonels? After two years of being misused and underutilized, Dan decided to take his talents to Dayton and to this day, still holds a grudge against the Colonels. He’s openly admitted that he was rooting against them in their conference title game and I wouldn’t be surprised if he is caught wearing a Mario Chalmers jersey at Buffalo Wild Wings this Friday, screaming “Rock Chalk” at the top of his lungs. Kansas advances.

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