NCAA Regional Reset: Southwest RegionPosted by rtmsf on March 22nd, 2011
We’re down to sixteen teams, so it’s time to visit with each of our regional experts and analyze what happened in each of the four regions and what should be expected this coming weekend. Every one of these predictions is guaranteed to be absolutely and totally correct.
New Favorite (Same as the Old Favorite): #1 Kansas, 34-2. Kansas is one of the biggest favorites a region has ever seen, as a #10, a #11 and a #12 seed remain opposite the mighty Jayhawks in San Antonio. While Florida State, VCU and Richmond are all capable teams with varying strengths and weaknesses, none of the three pose a serious threat to KU so long as Bill Self’s team shows maturity and takes them seriously.
Horse of Darkness: #10 Florida State, 23-10. In two NCAA Tournament games, the Seminoles are firing on all cylinders defensively, holding Texas A&M and Notre Dame to a total of 107 points and a defensive PPP of 0.86. When you’re locking teams up like that, especially offensive juggernauts like the Irish, then you have a chance to win any game you play. VCU is beatable, but Kansas is a completely different animal.
Biggest Surprise (1st Weekend): Three Double-Digit Seeds Advancing. Nobody, and we mean nobody, would have had this bracket unless they were shooting darts or perhaps was a Richmond native who attended Florida State. It’s so rare that in the twenty-seven years since the NCAA Tournament expanded to 64 teams, three double-digit seeds have never made the same regional. Until this year. It’ll certainly make for an interesting group of fans in the Alamodome, as two smallish schools and a football school join a hoops powerhouse in San Antonio.
Completely Expected (1st Weekend): Kansas Advancing. The Jayhawks didn’t really dominate Boston University nor Illinois over the weekend, but unlike Duke and certainly Pitt, they weren’t really threatened either. The Southwest Region was already one of the weaker ones; with the bloodbath of high seeds that got eliminated over the weekend, it’s become even more so.
I’m Exceptionally Smart and Prescient: It’s not easy to act smart in a region that blew up like this one, but my Sweet Sixteen Sleeper, Richmond, was a good choice. Pointing out that Louisville is prone to stinkers and that UR should be able to defeat Vandy was a phenomenal call, which will surely more than compensate for this one…
Except When I Make Stupid Predictions: Calling VCU Overseeded at #11. Ok, maybe Jay Bilas Inceptioned my brain or something, but in terms of VCU’s resume, they were in fact overseeded and maybe that is now contributing to how well they’re sticking it to the power conference teams in this bracket. Everyone underestimated this team because, while we knew they had talent, they hadn’t played like it down the stretch this year. Now they’re a game away from the Elite Eight and nobody is counting them out at this point.
First Weekend MVP: Markieff Morris, Kansas, 19.5 PPG, 10 RPG. The lesser-known Morris twin was dominant in KU’s two wins over Boston U. and Illlinois, making great use of his length, agility and size to create matchup problems for both teams. When Markieff and his brother are both playing well, there are only a handful of teams in America who can beat the Jayhawks.
Breakout Star: Kevin Anderson, Richmond, 19.5 PPG, 4.0 APG. Can a former Atlantic 10 POY be a breakout star? Sure, because most of America still doesn’t know much about the 6’0 waterbug who put his team on his back during key spots in the Vanderbilt upset win, and who makes the Spider train go. The only way to describe Anderson is as a playmaker, and Kansas is going to have to figure out a way to keep him from finding open looks because he makes teams pay.
More Home Cooking: Kansas, 685 miles to San Antonio. The answer is that nobody has a true “home court” advantage in terms of geography, but KU fans are travellers and they will pack the Alamodome this weekend. This is especially true given that Richmond and VCU are from the east coast and will have small but vocal fan support, while Seminole fans are mostly looking ahead to spring football practice. Don’t be surprised if the crowd is 80% or more Jayhawk fans.
Best Regional Semifinal Game: #10 Florida State vs. #11 VCU, 3/25. Both of these teams are playing their best basketball of the season right now, and VCU is a great story in that absolutely nobody even wanted the Rams in the First Four games, yet they’ve strung together three impressive wins and are knocking on the door of the Elite Eight. FSU had best come prepared to stop the three-point shooting of Brandon Rozzell (39.7%), Bradford Burgess (40.3%) and Joey Rodriguez (33.9%). Those three have all hit more than sixty treys this season, and three other players have hit more than 25. It’ll be bombs away for VCU as the Seminole defense, #10 in the nation against the long-ball at 30.1%, will try to lock up their shooters.
Best Regional Final Game (projected): #11 VCU vs. #12 Richmond. In such a busted bracket, it’s tough to say what the best regional final game might be from a basketball standpoint, but it’s quite easy to project the best one from a rivalry perspective. VCU and Richmond share the same Virginia city, but the two schools couldn’t be more different. While UR is private, affluent and situated in a leafy suburban-style neighborhood, VCU is public, downtown and urban. There are definite judgments made between the two institutions as a result, and some of those are not flattering. What’s not different is that these two teams are both playing excellent basketball, and if they can both advance one more round, the city of Richmond’s Fan might burn down that night.
Top Storyline: The Inevitability of Kansas. Let’s not sugarcoat this. The only team that can truly beat Kansas in this region is Kansas. Look at the odds below — KU is a ridiculous favorite. But undoubtedly everyone will be talking about last year’s Round of 32 upset to Northern Iowa in looking for an angle to doubt Kansas again. This much is true — if KU decides that they need only make an appearance in the Alamodome this weekend, they’ll go home unhappy. But the likelihood of Bill Self allowing his team to make the same mistake two years in a row is small. The media focus will be on the Jayhawks all weekend, and rightfully so.
Top Storyline for Contrarians: The other obvious storyline of the weekend is how two mid-major schools from a small Southern city managed to put two teams into the Sweet Sixteen. The last time two teams from the same city played in the same regional was in 2007 (USC and UCLA); the last time they played each other was way back in 1970 when Philadelphia schools Temple and Villanova did battle in the Round of 32. Yet they’re both one win away from just that occurrence, something that nobody could have imagined possible even one week ago. Sometimes you have to love the NCAA Tournament’s quirks.
Revised Vegas Odds to Win Region: