Florida was named the overall No.1 seed in the whole NCAA tournament on Sunday, and they are the favorite to get through the South region. The Kansas Jayhawks are the No. 2 seed after losing in the Big 12 semifinal. The Jayhawks are coming into the tournament with a major injury. Joel Embiid is definitely out for the start of “March Madness,” however, it’s possible he’ll return if Kansas goes deep in the tournament. Syracuse has also battle injuries, and losses down the stretch.
Eight teams won their conference tournament in the south region. That includes the winner of the First Four game between Albany and Mt. St. Mary’s. UCLA won the PAC-12 tournament, and they maybe a team capable of making a run. Three teams (Florida, Syracuse, Stephen F. Austin) have had 25 game win streaks or more.
Best First Round Games:
Dayton vs. Ohio State: The NCAA tournament tips-off with a tremendous regional match up. The Buckeyes and Flyers will travel to Buffalo to meet in a game that will never be played in the regular season. Aaron Craft will be making his final tournament appearance with Ohio State.
Western Michigan vs. Syracuse: Western Michigan won 12 of their final 13 games, while Syracuse started the season (25-0). David Brown leads Western Michigan in scoring and takes over seven three pointers per game. Syracuse needs to create offense off of their defense.
New Mexico vs. Stanford: The two west coast schools face off in St. Louis. It’s an early start on Friday, so let’s see which team can handle the time change better. New Mexico is a big physical team, but Stanford has a lot of size of their own. New Mexico got upset in the first round last year.
VCU vs. Stephen F. Austin: The Lumberjacks have won 28 straight games and they have the experience to pull off the upset. VCU just doesn’t lose in the round of 64, so this game has many intriguing qualities.
Top Five Players to watch
1. Kyle Anderson- UCLA: Anderson averages 15 points 6.6 assists and 8.8 rebounds per game from the guard position. We expect him to put up a triple double before the tourney is over.
2. Andrew Wiggins- Kansas: Wiggins has been a force on the offensive end late in the season. Without Joel Embiid in the lineup, Wiggins star should shine even more. He must stay aggressive on both ends of the floor and excel in the open court.
3. Cameron Bairstow- New Mexico: Bairstow is a scoring machine for the Lobos. His size and ability to shoot from the midrange, as well as dominate down low has been too much for opponents.
4. Jerami Grant- Syracuse: Grant can be a game changer and he’ll need to be for Syracuse to advance. He has to be the best player to finish around the rim. Jerami averages 12.2 points per game.
5. Treveon Graham- VCU: Graham has to have a great tournament scoring the ball. He’s capable of making big shots and hitting the 3-ball for the Rams. He averages 15.7 points per game and 7 rebounds.
Team to watch:
The Florida Gators are the heavy favorite entering the tournament. Although they don't have one of the top five players to see, the Gators have four seniors that make the team well rounded. Florida's defense is incredible and they have timely three point shooting.
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