As I took a look at the South Region bracket of the 2017 NCAA Tournament bracket, I thought to myself, “This is a pretty tough region to play in. This is going to be hard to predict wins.”
The South region may be the region that will have your bracket discombobulated and possibly make you really upset at the end.
I did pick a few upsets in this region because there teams that I flat-out think are better than their opponent.
Here are my predictions, picks, and analysis:
Round of 64
(1) University of North Carolina v. (16) Texas Southern
Texas Southern has won 11 of their last 12 games going into the tournament but UNC feels like they have something to prove. They will have their hands full with UNC’s dominance of their forwards Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks. The team is a smaller bunch, which the Tar Heels can use to their advantage and guard Joel Berry II will also be relied to score as he did in the ACC tournament.
Pick: North Carolina
(8) Arkansas v. (9) Seton Hall
Arkansas is predicted to win this match by one point, according to ESPN’s BPI; however, can they really pull this off? I cannot doubt them because of how well they played in the SEC Tournament but Seton Hall has beat Butler, the 4-seed in this region and lost by just two points to Villanova in the Big East semifinals.
The key players to watch in this game are Dusty Hannahs from Arkansas who averages approximately 14 points a game, Seton Hall’s guard Khadeen Carrington (16.9 points/game) and forward Angel Delgado who averages 13 rebounds per game.
Pick: Seton Hall
(5) Minnesota v. (12) Middle Tennessee
Riding on a 10-game win streak, Middle Tennessee is ready to duke it out with No. 5 ranked Minnesota. MTSU has won 20 of its last 21 games. Impressive, I say. Minnesota has nine of their last 11 games heading into the tournament.
(4) Butler v. (13) Winthrop
Butler is a team to watch out for in this tournament. They're known to stay under the radar and surprise fans and they've given some of the highe- seeded teams a little trouble beforehand, even if they are coming into the tournament on a two-game losing streak (Seton Hall and Xavier).
(6) Cincinnati v. (11) Kansas State
Playing against some “defensive bullies” with Cincinnati, Kansas State will have to watch their backs. The Bearcats are known to steal a ball or two, and they do have the top steal rate in college basketball.
(3) UCLA v. (14) Kent State
UCLA is another team that will make it hard for the top seed to make it hard for North Carolina to get to the Final Four. This team is an offensively effective with freshman guard Lonzo Ball leading the way. The Bruins are are another team to watch in this region.
(7) Dayton v. (10) Wichita State
Coming into the NCAA Tournament with a 15-game winning streak, Wichita State is a well-rounded team who is looking to go far as they did back in 2013 when they made it the Final Four when they lost to Louisville.
Pick: Wichita State
(2) Kentucky v. (15) Northern Kentucky
The Kentucky Wildcats are one of the favorites to make it to the Final Four and some are picking them to even the tournament. The first step to that is to beat Northern Kentucky.
This tournament is normally full of surprises and this year is not an exception. I'm ready for the madness, are you?