Which teams will advance out of Midwest, South regionals?
Mar 27, 2013 | 8:34 PM
Many of us with our or trashed brackets want to see the lovable "Dunk City" contingent from Fort Myers, Fla., make the 10-hour trek up Interstate 75 for next week's Final Four. Conventional basketball wisdom, however, tells us that won't happen.
No. 15 Florida Gulf Coast's Sweet 16 opponent, No. 3 Florida, is too strong for the Eagles; but not strong enough for the Michigan Wolverines, who will make this a three-Big Ten team Final Four. Indiana and Ohio State also are headed to Atlanta.
The most controversial team that shouldn't be the most controversial team was Florida, darling of metric-obsessed observers but riddled with doubt from those who saw a team that lost pretty much every close game it was in all season. Then came two convincing tournament victories. So here the Gators are en route to the Final Four. They can play defense and they can match up with Kansas or Michigan. In the Midwest Region, Louisville remains king. The Cardinals are playing better than anyone and they'll rattle Duke's guards enough in the Elite Eight matchup to unsettle the Blue Devils entirely. Louisville marches on for a shot at a national title.
The smart money is with Florida's tremendous size and suffocating defense. My pre-tournament pick of a Kansas-Florida final in the South is tracking, even though Michigan could give Kansas trouble. The Wolverines looked like a team that could tear down nets after their dismantling of Virginia Commonwealth.
I'm sticking with Louisville to win the Midwest, which makes sense since I picked Louisville to win the national title. I had Louisville defeating Saint Louis, though, not Oregon and right now the Ducks look scary-good.
I also had Louisville-Duke in the regional final all along, and that's what it will be after Duke dispatches Michigan State in the other regional semifinal.
The Jayhawks' size, experience and depth will get them though a tough regional semifinal game with Michigan before they dispatch whichever enigmatic Florida squad earns the right to be their opponent. If it's the Gators who draw Kansas, I like the Jayhawks to exploit a weak Florida frontcourt.
In the Midwest, give me the cruising Louisville Cardinals. Sure, Duke is playing well, but the Cards will have a hometown crowd in Indianapolis, and I'm not betting against Russ Smith when he is playing like this.