I finish my bracket breakdown in the South, where Tournament favorite North Carolina headlines an impressive group.
Most Intriguing Game: Clemson vs. Michigan - We have already been talking about this match-up on the forum. The Tigers come in reeling, losers of four of their last five games. The problem for Clemson has been defense. The problem being they haven't been playing any. Clemson allowed 80 points or more in three of those four losses. They allowed 73 points in the other. But Clemson can be dangerous when its pressure defense is working. Just ask Duke who the Tigers mauled 74-47. Michigan is led by its dynamic duo of Manny Harris and DeShawn Simms. When those two are on target the Wolverines are tough to beat. This should be an exciting game between two teams that could make a run in the Tournament if they get hot.
Potential Blowout: Gonzaga over Akron - The MAC had one of its worst seasons in quite a while. The usually deep conference had some of the worst teams in Division I this year. The Zips played solid defense in a down conference but they aren't an offensive powerhouse by any means. That could spell trouble against a Zags offense that's been on fire since its loss to Memphis. Gonzaga has scored 80 or more points in six of its last seven games, topping 90 three times. It could be a long day for the Zips.
Possible Upset: Western Kentucky over Illinois - A lot of people are calling for this upset and for good reason. Western Kentucky got better as the season went on, while the Illini seemed to get worse. Illinois is one of the most miserable scoring teams in this tournament. Illinois has reached 70 points just once in its last 10 games but the Illini offset that by playing swarming defense. The Hilltoppers' A.J. Slaughter is a stud and with G Chester Frazier doubtful for this game, he may be too much for the Illini to handle.
Overrated: Oklahoma - I'm not that impressed with this Oklahoma squad. I know Blake Griffin is a stud but the Sooners guards are very vulnerable. I think the Sooners peaked too early this season. They are just 2-3 in their last five games and that's in what most people believe to be a down Big 12 conference this year. The Sooners' problems have been on the defensive side of the ball where they have allowed at least 70 points in eight of their last 10 games. I can see Morgan State giving OU all they want in the first round. If the Sooners get by that game, I don't expect them to go much further.
Sleeper: Arizona State - A lot of people including me have Syracuse beating the winner of the Arizona State/Temple game but whoever survives that match-up will be a very dangerous team. I'm going with the Sun Devils to take that game. James Harden is the kind of player who can lead a team to the Elite 8. The Sun Devils were inconsistent this year but when they play well Arizona State can beat any team in the country. Don't be surprised if ASU upends Temple and Syracuse and makes it to the Sweet 16.
Possible Cinderella: Morgan State - As I said above I really believe Morgan State has a chance to play with Oklahoma. I know it would be a huge upset but we've seen one or two of those before in the Tournament haven't we? The Bears are a very good rebounding team and only allow opponents to shoot 40 percent from the field against them. Morgan State played well on the road versus Ole Miss and Washington and upset Maryland, so they aren't afraid to take on the big boys. I know it would be a monumental upset but like I said crazier things have happened.
Fright Night's South Region Winner: North Carolina - There are a lot of things I don't like about the Tar Heels but they are too darn talented for me to leave them out of my Final Four. UNC better sure up its defense because teams like LSU, Gonzaga and Syracuse will give them all they want if they meet the Tar Heels. Still, if Ty Lawson is healthy this is the most talented team in the country. If Lawson doesn't play then it's a different story.
Good luck Virginia. I think Clemson could be a dangerous team too.
Orange is not really my fave color, but I'm looking forward to a Clemson/Syracuse matchup.
Is Temple really sub-par this year or are they seeded lower than they deserve? I picked 'em to go up against the Orange, but what do I know?
Supposedly Lawson won't play against Radford, but I'm expecting him to play once he's needed. I think Green & Hansbrough have a will to win this tourney & shouldn't be underestimated, even if Lawson is kidnapped by aliens tomorrow... But as a Heels fan, I hope they kidnap someone from L-ville or UConn!
LOVE me some ASU.....VERY dangerous team.....