South Region Preview: Better To Be Lucky Than Good

This is the region that everyone should be worried about in their office pool bracket. If you're expecting to make money off the outcomes of what you see in the South Region, it's going be just as important to be lucky as it will to be good.

That's because outside of Kansas' No. 1 vs. No. 16 matchup against Western Kentucky on Friday night, all of these second round games require a great level of consideration for both squads. The East Region is deep with what appear to be serious title contenders, while the South Region is full of wild cards. No. 2 Georgetown, though a 13-point favorite to win in the Round of 64, doesn't have a cakewalk set up against Florida Gulf Coast. The Eagles beat Miami by 12 early in the season, and a few games later, led against Duke until the Blue Devils caught fire and closed the first half on a 23-0 run.

Florida Gulf Coast isn't all that easy to evaluate based on what they did in the Atlantic Sun (13-5), but beating Miami (albeit before the Hurricanes were ranked) and keeping it close with Duke for a time is an indication that this is a team that can play with Georgetown, at the very least.

Upset alerts don't stop with the Hoyas. No one is expecting Florida to have trouble with Southland Conference tournament champion Northwestern State, but the Demons lead the nation in points per game and their deep rotation allows head coach Mike McConathy to sub in four and five players at a time. Northwestern State has the kind of size that Southland teams don't typically have.

None of that should matter in the end as long as the Gators play to their ability. But if they get caught slipping, or have one of those nights where things don't seem to be going their way, the Demons score quick enough on all of those horrible shots they take to make this one interesting.

Michigan-South Dakota State is the most compelling Round of 64 game in this region. That's where you'll see the point guard matchup of Michigan's Trey Burke against South Dakota State's Nate Wolters, who ranks fourth in the country with 22.7 points a game. South Dakota State could be fortunate to catch the Wolverines on the downside at this point in the season. We don't want to read too much into Michigan going .500 in its past 12 games, especially playing in the best league in the country, but it's still something to consider.

We're waiting to see which Michigan squad shows up for this one. The Wolverines at least have the advantage of playing in their own backyard at the Palace. But we know Michigan State fans aren't about to make it easy for them. Spartan fans even threw down for South Dakota State gear just to neutralize the homecourt threat. That's a rivalry for you.

Try to have fun with the VCU-Akron game. These teams are almost identical in terms of style of play, with Akron coach Keith Dambrot being VCU coach Shaka Smart's mentor from their days together as assistants at Akron. Not a lot is expected out of Akron since their point guard and team leader Alex Abreu went down earlier this month due to a drug charge. The team seems to be filling in the point guard spot just fine, except for the decline in assists, but it's the team leadership, believe it or not, that Akron's missing from the alleged corner kid.

Of course, North Carolina is in for a dogfight against Villanova. If the Tar Heels win, they will likely face Kansas, Roy Williams' old squad, for a spot in the Sweet 16. It would also be Williams' 700th career win. If UNC loses, though, can we really call it an upset considering it's the No. 8 and No. 9? You put programs with reputations like Kansas and UNC in a field as weak as this one and figure any way the two don't meet, it's got to be a disappointment, right? But Villanova had the harder road to get here, and like Michigan, you can't really predict what North Carolina team is going to show up.

Maybe it's better to be lucky than good.

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