2014 NCAA Tournament Picks: South



NCAA Tournament Picks: South | West | Midwest | East | Final Four

2014 NCAA Tournament Bracket Breakdowns:
South | West | Midwest | East

2014 NCAA Tournament: Bracket Breakdown – South Bracket

By David Kay – @David_Kmiecik


Overview

Florida was deservingly given the top-overall seed and is the favorites to make the Final Four after sweeping SEC play in both the regular season and conference tournament. To put it bluntly, Billy Donovan has a real good, deep, balanced team. I had been planning on picking Kansas to win it all, but the Joel Embiid injury is scaring me off. However, never count out Bill Self in March. Syracuse is limping into the tourney, while UCLA is coming off an impressive run in the Pac-12 Tournament. The biggest gripe I have with this region is New Mexico’s seeding. After winning the Mountain West Conference Tournament, I thought the Lobos had a No. 5-seed resume, but are a No. 7 seed.

Best Opening-Round Game


No. 6 Ohio State vs. No. 11 Dayton

Despite being about an hour drive from one another, the Buckeyes and the Flyers have only met six times on the hardwood. Dayton wing Jordan Sibert went to Ohio State for his first two years of college and Flyers’ head coach Archie Miller used to be an assistant for the Buckeyes under Thad Matta.




Opening-Round Upset


No. 12 Stephen F. Austin over No. 5 VCU

Minus the No. 8/No. 9 game, I have this bracket going as expected in the first round (I refuse to call it the second round). Stephen F. Austin seems to be a sexy upset pick since the team hasn’t lost since November 23rd and has rattled off 28 straight wins. However, look who the Lumberjacks played (and if you don’t want to actually look at their schedule, I’ll save you an internet search; nobody.) The Commodores do struggle scoring in the half-court and must rely on their havoc defensive effort to overwhelm the Lumberjacks. Stephen F. Austin does have the guard play to handle the full-court pressure, and that will be vital if the Lumberjacks are going to pull off the upset.

Sleeper


No. 3 Syracuse

A month ago, the Orange was unbeaten and everyone’s favorite to win the NCAA Tournament. Syracuse has lost five of its last seven, and now, nobody is talking about this team. Don’t forget though that the Orange dropped four of its final five games last season and still made a run to the Final Four. Jerami Grant needs to be healthy and Trevor Cooney must knock down outside shots for Syracuse to have a chance this year, but I wouldn’t underestimate Jim Boeheim.




Five Impact Players to Watch

Andrew Wiggins, No. 2 Kansas

I have to start with Wiggins, right? The possible No. 1-overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft has been balling out lately, averaging 31 points during his last three games. His outside stroke looks extremely confident, and his aggressiveness in attacking the rim continues to rise. With Embiid out for at least the first weekend, Wiggins needs to carry Kansas early on.

Kyle Anderson, No. 4 UCLA

The 6-9 sophomore is one of the most unique players in college basketball. His combination of size, skill, and ability to play a point forward position makes him a difficult matchup for any team. He helped lead the Bruins to the Pac-12 Tournament title that included convincing wins over Oregon and Stanford.

Cameron Bairstow, No. 7 New Mexico

Arguably the most improved player in the country after more than doubling his scoring production from last year, the Aussie forms one of the most physical frontcourts in the country with Alex Kirk. Besides being a bruiser inside, Bairstow can also step and knock down mid-range jumpers. He is a huge reason why I think the Lobos can make a run in the tournament.

LaQuinton Ross, No. 6 Ohio State

Ross came up huge for the Buckeyes during the dance last year and will need a repeat performance this March if the team is going to make any noise. Ohio State is a poor three-point shooting team, and Ross is the program’s most dangerous threat from beyond the arc. He needs to hit his shots, especially with a potential second-round matchup versus Syracuse and its 2-3 zone.

Tyler Ennis, No. 3 Syracuse

It has been incredible to watch the poise with which Ennis runs the point as a freshman. I’m giddy at the thought of seeing Aaron Craft guard him for 40 minutes in a potential second-round battle.



Opening-Round Picks

No. 1 Florida over No. 16 Albany

No. 9 Pittsburgh over No. 8 Colorado

No. 5 VCU over No. 12 Stephen F. Austin

No. 4 UCLA over No. 13 Tulsa

No. 6 Ohio State over No. 11 Dayton

No. 3 Syracuse over No. 14 Western Michigan

No. 7 New Mexico over No. 10 Stanford

No. 2 Kansas over No. 15 Eastern Kentucky

Second-Round Picks

No. 1 Florida over No. 9 Pittsburgh

No. 4 UCLA over No. 5 VCU

No. 3 Syracuse over No. 6 Ohio State

No. 7 New Mexico over No. 2 Kansas

Sweet 16 Picks

No. 1 Florida over No. 4 UCLA

No. 7 New Mexico over No. 3 Syracuse

Elite 8 Pick

No. 1 Florida over No. 7 New Mexico





NCAA Tournament Picks: South | West | Midwest | East | Final Four

2014 NCAA Tournament Bracket Breakdowns:
South | West | Midwest | East






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