Ok, let’s take a look at the much maligned Southeast bracket…I also plead you don’t listen too much to what I have to say, because it may just confuse you more as you try to win tBBC Challenge. I’ve linked to some of our previous impressions as well, so you can make a better guess.
This maybe the most difficult region that I have ever tried to predict in recent memory. On the 1 line is a very solid Pitt Panthers team, but they are a team that can struggle offensively at times. If they face someone that gets hot from deep not sure they can keep up. Then you have a 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 seeds that are so similar that it would be hard to call any win by them an upset. I’m not sure that any team is favored by 8 points or more, with most of them are probably toss up or 3-5 point spreads.
This region also has two teams hurting with lost players. BYU lost 3rd leading scorer, and main big man, Brandon Davies to team rules while St. John’s also lost their 3rd leading scorer in D.J. Kennedy. Both losses make these teams vulnerable to first round upsets to Wofford and Gonzaga respectively. I will speak about Belmont later, and also have Utah State as a team that could pull the 12-5 upset.
At the end of the day I am not sure who to pick. I am making the safe pick and advancing Pitt, but read along and you will see some stars to watch, under the radar players to watch as well as my sleeper pick and elite 8 picks.
Bracket Favorites – Pitt or the field. At this point I am going with Pitt as stated above, but there are honestly 10 other teams, if one team is able to upend Pitt that could end up in the final four.
Cinderella Pick – I’m going to go with the 11th seeded Gonzaga Bulldogs as my Cinderella pick. They have 7’0” Robert Sacre that could present mismatches for any team in this bracket and have a solid PG in David Stockton (A last name that many will recognize) that can manage the game. Also Elias Harris and Steven Gray present very athletic wings.
Players to watch for – There is quite a bit of individual talent in this region. 3 specifically:
- Noah Dahlman – Wofford (6’6” Senior F 20 pts 5 rbs ) Scored in double figures in every game this season. Can he lead an upset of the 3 seeded Cougars and Jimmer?
- Jimmer Fredette - BYU (6’2″” Senior G 28 pts) We have all seen or heard about Jimmer. How far can he single handily take his team?
- Dwight Hardy – St. John’s (6’2” Senior G 18 pts) Hardy has carried his Steve Lavin lead team to multiple big wins this season. Can he overcome the loss of teammate D.J. Kennedy to lead his team to an elite 8?
Best unheralded player - Dahlman could fall here, but I went with Orlando Johnson – UCSB (6’5” Junior F 21pts) You might remember him, as UCSB was our first round game a year ago.
Obscure team – Belmont is a 30-4 team that is probably one of the better 13 seeds that a tourney has ever seen. The buzzcuts are really going to have their hands full with the Bruins. Belmont is a team that goes deep into their bench and could try and speed the game, they are not huge, but have size to match with teams. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them win one or even two games. But, if Wisky is hot from deep they could go down in their first game.
Elite 8 Picks – I’ve gotta go with Pitt and MSU here. I know I haven’t even talked about MSU till this point, but going with the suprise pick since no one else sticks out to me. The reason I go with MSU is due to past history, obviously, and knowing the talent that they have on the roster. Lucas can take over a game, and they have to wake up sometime this year right? They could easily lose their first game, but I like them in a match-up with Florida- similar styles of play, and look for MSU to get hot. But it is till 2 days away and I may change my mind. I could seriously make a case for any of the top 11 teams in the region.
Yup, there’s lots of talent in this bracket, but even more question marks for me.
- Florida? – Are they really a 2 seed after getting blown out by Kentucky?
- BYU? – Loss of Davies, and if Jimmer is held down, who scores?
- Wisconsin? – Which team shows up? The team that beat OSU or the team that scored 33 points against PSU?
- Kansas State? – Other than Villanova they may be the most up and down team. Which team shows up, the team that went on a 2-5 stretch and lost to Colorado 3 times or the team that whipped Kansas?
- St. John’s? – How much does the loss of Kennedy hurt?
We will find out soon enough, but this will be the region that will make or break many brackets this year. I will also put this on the line and say anyone that hits every game in this bracket I will personally buy them one of the shirts that we are giving away for our bracket contest. If there are multiple people I will take the one with the higher score overall… Good luck!!