March Madness is back!
It’s that time of year when so many basketball fans get that “kid in a candy store” look on their faces, “One Shining Moment” becomes the most hummed tune, and the friendliest phrase on Earth morphs from ‘How are you?’ to ‘How’s your bracket?’.
2016 March Madness Breakdown: South Region
(1) Kansas vs. (16) Austin Peay
Gents: Don’t let THE WIFE take a 16-seed, especially if she’s joining a paid pool
(8) Colorado vs. (9) Connecticut
Everyone talks about Colorado’s size in the paint, led by Josh Scott, but UConn’s late season surge can’t be ignored. The Huskies also are 5th in FG% defense and 1st in FT percentage. Late contested shots and key free throws will lead UConn to victory.
(5) Maryland vs. (12) South Dakota St.
Chemistry appears to be the issue for a Maryland team that is as talented as any. While it has been an up-and-down journey for the Terps, this team is too talented to not move on.
(4) California vs. (13) Hawai’i
Does anyone else not feel right spelling Hawaii like that (above)? That alone should force me to take Cal. But the Bears’ NBA-ready talent made it an easier selection.
(6) Arizona vs. (11) Wichita St.
Anyone that follows the tournament knows that one team leaves the First Four with momentum and wins another game. Wichita State is the prime candidate, leaving with a 20-point win over Vandy and the top scoring defense in the nation. The Shockers also have a big regular season win over Utah, a team with similar standing in the Pac 12.
(3) Miami (FL) vs. (14) Buffalo
Buffalo does have four players averaging in double figures, but this is a team that has 14 losses and has been crushed by all tournament teams faced. Miami cruises.
(7) Iowa vs. (10) Temple
Iowa really faded down the stretch and there’s something to be said about momentum. With that said, Temple is a poor free throw shooting team (202nd), a poor rebounding team (241st in margin) and a poor offensive team (265th in scoring offense). Therefore, I’ll take Iowa.
(2) Villanova vs. (15) UNC Asheville
Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted rankings have ‘Nova highly ranked: 11th on offense and 7th on defense. Don’t expect Asheville to be handle to stick with Jay Wright’s boys.
(1) Kansas vs. (9) Connecticut
UConn does not have the superior guard play that it had during its championship game run a few years ago. Kansas is also very deep, both inside and out. Jayhawks move on to the Sweet 16.
(4) California vs. (5) Maryland
Two of the biggest underachievers in the field face off in the second round. This one will be a dandy… if it happens. Expect a close game and therefore, look at free throw percentage rankings, where the Terps are 13th and Cal is ranked 313th in the nation. Give me Maryland.
(3) Miami (FL) vs. (11) Wichita St.
Miami is a disciplined slashing team that continuously drives to the basket. It’s the big physical teams down low that can derail the ‘Canes. That’s not Wichita State and while this would be a tight battle, this is where the Shockers’ journey will end.
(2) Villanova vs. (7) Iowa
A two-seed falls out of the second round just about every year, but let’s not forget that Iowa lost six of its last eight games, including defeats to Penn State and Illinois. Villanova has been known to underachieve, but the Hawkeyes have next to no momentum heading into the tournament.
(1) Kansas vs. (5) Maryland
Maryland has the talent to take down Kansas, but this is a Terps team that simply hasn’t put the pieces together. Kansas finished the season strong, winning 14 straight games, including victories over eight ranked teams.
(2) Villanova vs. (3) Miami (FL)
As previously mentioned, Miami is a slashing team that is aggressive and can wear down smaller teams. It’s the big, physical teams that Miami struggles with. Villanova is not that team and therefore, give me Jim Larrañaga any day, who knows how to get his teams ready to play in March Madness.
(1) Kansas vs. (3) Miami (FL)
Kansas frequently fails to exceed its seed in the big dance, but this roster is so loaded, it’s hard to pick against them. Four players on this Jayhawks team average in double figures: Perry Ellis (16.7 ppg), Wayne Selden Jr. (13.3 ppg), Frank Mason III (13.1 ppg) and Devonte’ Graham (11.7 ppg). Kansas will prove to be too much for the Hurricanes.
KP’s Final Four Pick (South Region): Kansas Jayhawks