2014 March Madness: South Region Predictions

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Mar 1, 2014; Richmond, VA, USA; Virginia Commonwealth Rams head coach Shaka Smart signals to his team during the second half against the Saint Louis Billikens at the Stuart C. Siegel Center. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports


(1) Florida Gators vs. (9) Pittsburgh Panthers

Saturday, March 22nd 

Analysis: Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.com gives Pittsburgh a 14% chance of advancing to the Sweet Sixteen. However, that percentage most likely includes the less than 1% chance that Florida loses in the first round, almost guaranteeing a victory for the Panthers. So in reality, that 14% is somewhat over stated. With that being said, Pittsburgh presents a challenge for the top seeded Gators–their offensive efficiency is slightly better than the Kentucky team that took Florida to the brink on Sunday. It should make for a solid match-up, but Florida still advances to the Sweet Sixteen in Memphis.

(5) VCU Rams vs. (4) UCLA Bruins

Sunday, March 23rd

Analysis: This game highlights strength against strength, as the highly ranked UCLA offense, averaging 81.8 points per game, runs into the #2 ranked defense per kenpom.com. This will be an incredibly exciting and evenly matched game (RPI: VCU 13, UCLA 15) that many expect will come down to the wire. As the saying goes, “defense wins championships,” and thus, the edge goes to Shaka Smart and the Rams.

(6) Ohio State Buckeyes vs. (3) Syracuse Orange

Saturday, March 22nd 

Analysis: The Buckeyes have a very strong chance to win this game, but it will all come down to their offensive performance. They have a top 5 defense that keeps them in almost every single game led by high-motor guy Aaron Craft. They will need a big game from both Craft and LaQuinton Ross if they want to advance past CJ Fair and Syracuse. In the end, the offense will let down the entire state of Ohio; Syracuse advances to Memphis.

(2) Kansas Jayhawks vs. (7) New Mexico Lobos

Feb 24, 2014; Lawrence, KS, USA; Kansas Jayhawks center Joel Embiid (21) shoots the ball as Oklahoma Sooners forward Ryan Spangler (0) defends during the second half at Allen Fieldhouse. Kansas won 83-75. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Sunday, March 23rd

Analysis: If the Jayhawks advance to the second week, there is an outside chance that we’ll get to see the return of Joel Embiid, the potential #1 overall NBA pick that draws comparisons to Hakeem Olajuwan. Honestly, even if he doesn’t return for the Sweet Sixteen in Memphis, I’ll be satisfied with watching Andrew Wiggins

go nuts

continue to blossom for a few more games. Big players make big plays in big games, and that’s why Kansas wins.

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