2014 NCAA Bracket Picks: South Region Odds, Predictions and Expert Bracketology Projections to Win Your 2014 Office Pool Bracket: The South Region of the NCAA Tournament Bracket contains the top-overall seed, along with several power programs that haven’t been playing great but have the talent to be potential sleeping giants. Throw in a couple of talented mid-major teams, and while the South Region might not be the top-to-bottom toughest, it could end up being one of the more unpredictable in this year’s tournament. With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at the South Region.
NCAA South Bracket Favorites to Make the Final Four
Florida: The Gators haven’t lost a game since Connecticut nipped them at the buzzer way back on December 2. Florida is a complete basketball team, and the Gators have experienced guard play, perimeter firepower, size inside and bench scoring. More importantly, they have the third-stingiest defense in the country to fall back on. Florida arguably has the few fewest flaws of any team in the country, and they certainly have the fewest of any team in the South Region. The Gators have shown that they can win games against good teams even when they aren’t firing on all cylinders, and they are well-equipped for a run to the Final Four.
Kansas: Star center Joel Embiid is going to be sidelined at least through the first two rounds, but the Jayhawks still have plenty of offensive firepower. After all, Andrew Wiggins and Perry Ellis are combining for 31.0 points per game on the year for an offense that ranks 22nd in scoring and sixth in field goal percentage. No, Kansas’ defense isn’t nearly as effective without Embiid protecting the paint, but if the Jayhawks’ offense is firing on all cylinders, they can outscore any team in the South Region and make it to Arlington.
Syracuse: It was a sloppy end to the year for sure, but it isn’t all that uncommon for the Orange to drop a few games in conference play after opponents get a chance to see their 2-3 zone a second time. However, Pittsburgh is the only other ACC team in the South Region, and they wouldn’t meet Syracuse until the Elite Eight. As teams try to deal with the Syracuse zone for the first time, the ninth-ranked defense of the Orange is going to be that much tougher. Meanwhile, big man Jerami Grant is healthy again, and point guard Tyler Ennis has been money in crunch time all year. If C.J. Fair and Trevor Coney can find their strokes in the next game or two, the Orange can make a run to the Final Four.
NCAA South Bracket Upset Specials
Dayton over Ohio State: These two teams are heading in opposite directions heading into the NCAA tournament. The Flyers have won 10 of their last 12 games while the Buckeyes went 3-3 down the stretch, losing to Big Ten bottom-feeders Indiana and Penn State in the process. Worse yet, Ohio State has been building up big deficits in the games it has been winning. Yes, the Buckeyes have an elite defense, but they can be absolutely horrible on offense at times. For the year, OSU ranks 208th in scoring and 138th in field goal percentage. The Buckeyes just don’t have a go-to scorer they can count on for a basket in tough spots, and they are one bad shooting performance away from getting bounced by a Dayton team with five starters that can shoot from the perimeter.
Pittsburgh over Colorado: Give the Buffaloes credit for have a solid season despite losing leading-scorer Spencer Dinwiddie to an injury, but they could have a tough time overcoming their scoring woes against the Panthers. Keep in mind that Colorado ranks just 187th in scoring this season while Pittsburgh’s defense ranks 20th in the country. Meanwhile, the Panthers have been finding their offensive stride at the right time, scoring at least 80 points in three of the final four games and reaching the ACC tournament title game. Pittsburgh has a solid inside/outside combo in point guard Lamar Patterson and forward Talib Zanna, and the Panthers will have to much balance for the Buffaloes to handle in this one.
NCAA South Bracket High Seeds on Alert
UCLA: UCLA enters the NCAA tournament on a high note after winning the Pac-12 tournament title, and while there is no denying the talent the Bruins have, consistency has been an issue all year. Despite ranking in the top 12 nationally in scoring, assists and field goal percentage, the Bruins managed to loss to two of the three-worst teams in the conference this season. UCLA just seems to have games when its defense is nonexistent and when its offense just can’t get going. The talented but inconsistent Bruins could lay an egg at any given moment and get bounced.
NCAA South Bracket PREDICTION: Florida Gators
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Odds to win the 2014 NCAA South Region
New Mexico +1650
Ohio State +1000
SF Austin +4000
Virginia Commonwealth +1500
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