The fortunes of the top teams in the South region rose and fell with a couple of key body parts. North Carolina made an early exit from the ACC Tournament when point guard and ACC Player of the Year Ty Lawson hurt his toe. Oklahoma dropped from the top spot in the Big 12 when Blake Griffin missed time due to a concussion. For the purposes of this analysis, we're assuming that Lawson's toe and Griffin's head are at 100 percent.
Most Intriguing First-Round Matchup
The Clemson/Michigan matchup in the 7/10 game should make for an interesting clash of styles. Clemson likes to get out and run; the Wolverines play a disciplined 1-3-1 zone and, when they're hitting from outside, can be very tough to beat. As they say in boxing, "Styles make fights." Same goes for the NCAA Tournament.
Western Kentucky over Illinois would be an upset because of the seeds -- but probably wouldn't surprise too many college basketball fans. The Hilltoppers were a Sweet Sixteen team just last season -- and one of Illinois' key players, guard Chester Frazier -- missed the Big 10 Tournament with a hand injury that required surgery
The Regional Final
Oklahoma vs. North Carolina could be one for the ages. Blake Griffin, with his athleticism, would have a big advantage over Tyler Hansbrough, but Carolina -- with Lawson and Wayne Ellington -- would have a similar edge in the backcourt. The 'Heels haven't been as good this year as I expected -- they've really missed the defensive presence of Marcus Ginyard -- but I think their depth gets them past the Sooners.
More NCAA Tournament Predictions
South Region Predictions
|Round 1||Round 2||Sweet 16||Elite Eight|
|12||Western Kentucky||Western Kentucky|
|14||Stephen F. Austin||Syracuse|