At first glance of the South region I thought it was one of the weaker ones, just because I don't think any of the teams matchup well with #1 seed Florida. But after breaking it down, I've come to a conclusion that this will not be walk through for the Gators.
Florida without question is the best team in the in the tournament. They are very good defensively and have depth with 4 players averaging in double figures. The Gators are currently on a 26 game win streak, last loss was December 2nd against UConn. This is coach Billy Donavan best team since 2007, when he won back to back titles. Scott Wilbekin, SEC Player of the Year, is the general of this team while Patric Young is the anchor. This is a very complete and strong team that will tough to beat. Their only two losses were by a combined 7 points.
- Florida is the only lock in the tournament.
The Tulsa Golden Hurricane will make their first tournament appearance since 2003 with 2nd year coach Danny Manning. Manning in his first season went 17-16 with a 1st round exit in the CBI Tournament. This year, Tulsa won the Conference USA title and 17 out of their last 20. Manning was apart of Bill Self coaching staff at Kansas for 9 years, first as a director of player development then an assistant. I like what Manning has done with the Tulsa program in one year but it will be very tough for them to advance far in this region.
- #12 seed S.F Austin 31-2 - The Lumberjacks come into the tournament on a 28 game win streak. They seniors and play team basketball with averaging 5 players in double figures.
The Lobos have a great nucleus for the tournament. They have one of the best forwards in the country, Cameron Bairstow, a solid floor general, Kendall Williams, and a big 7fter, Alex Kirk. All 3 are seniors and all 3 were apart of that 1st round exit to Harvard last year, which should have them hungry for more.
- Ohio State, Kansas, and Syracuse all enter the field with a loss. Cuse by far is on the worst drought, losing 5 out of their last 7 games.
UCLA comes into the tournament as the Pac-12 champs after they upset Arizona in the title game. This is a major turnaround for the Bruins, who haven't won the Pac-12 title since 2008. First year coach, Steve Alford was hired by the Bruins to replace former coach Ben Howland. A 1st round loss to Minnesota in last year tournament is what led to Howland's firing but Alford also suffered a 1st round exit to Harvard as the coach of the Lobos.
Players to Watch
- Florida v. Pitt 2nd round
- Ohio State v Syracuse 2nd round
- Syracuse v. Kansas Sweet 16
- VCU v. UCLA 2nd round
Region Winner: Florida