The road to Atlanta is sure to be rough one, as is the road to every Final Four. Sixty-eight teams have their gazes fixed on a chance to advance to the Georgia Dome in hopes of cutting down the nets and hanging a national championship banner. While all teams assuredly start the tournament with the same goal, only one will reach the pinnacle of college basketball. In order to make it to Atlanta, however, you first must claim the crown of your respective region. The south region has no shortage of perennial powers, as well as high credential coaches hoping to make their mark on the 2013 NCAA Tournament.
The matchups in Kansas City pit (nearly) home team Kansas against Western Kentucky and North Carolina against Villanova in the 8/9 contest. I doubt that anyone expects this Kansas team to be the first 1 seed to fall to a 16, even though they are “the worst Kansas team since James Naismith invented the game.” North Carolina seems to have righted the ship from a rough start to the season while Villanova has their fair share of big wins this year.
In Auburn Hills we have the 5 seed VCU with touted head coach Shaka Smart facing the 12 seed Akron Zips. Don’t pick your 12/5 upset in this game. The 4/13 game in this region sees the Michigan Wolverines facing South Dakota State in what promises to be an anti-thriller (I mean really? The Jackrabbits..). An interesting battle is sure to insure in Austin as the 6th seeded UCLA Bruins take the court against 11th seeded Golden Gophers of Minnesota. We then also see Florida take on Northwestern State in what also promises to be a bloodbath.
The last hosting city in the south region is Philadelphia. The City of Brotherly Love hosts a matchup between San Diego State and Oklahoma in the 7/10 game. This is sure to be an interesting contest because of the evenly matched opponents. Finally we see the 2nd seeded Georgetown Hoyas against Florida Gulf Coast.. yikes!
The favorite to advance to the Final Four is always the 1 seed, so saying Kansas will be there when the smoke clears is not exactly going out on a limb. History will tell you though that top seeds are certainly not locks to make it to Atlanta. I really like how Georgetown defends the basketball and scores efficiently through the sensational Otto Porter Jr. I don’t foresee many upsets in the first round of this bracket unless you call a 9 over an 8 an upset, not that I think that will actually happen. Your best chance for an underdog win here would have to be Minnesota over UCLA.
When push comes to shove I fully expect either Kansas or Georgetown to represent this region in the Georgia Dome. Thankfully for each of us, however, that is why they play the games! March Madness is always filled with outcomes no one expected, buzzer beaters your girlfriend “called” a week ago, and barn burners fit to head straight to ESPN Classic. This tournament is sure to be no exception. So grab a 12 pack (who are we kidding.. go with the 30) and order some pizza or wings because we are in for the best few weeks in sports and no one can take that away from us!