2011 NCAA Tournament Predictions: Southeast Region

March 17, 2011
By K. Becks

This region has the potential to get really muddied by the second weekend. Of the four regions, I believe that this one is the most wide open. Here is my final region breakdown, the Southeast Region.

First Round Games to Watch

#6 St. John’s vs. #11 Gonzaga (Thurs, following BYU vs. Wofford)

St. John’s is the chic pick to crash the party in the Southeast region and make it all the way to the Final Four, but first they have a tough second round game against a dangerous, and improving, Gonzaga squad. The Red Storm are athletic and have proven they can take down some of the best teams in the nation, and Around The Corn even hopped on the bandwagon back in February. However, St. John’s lost one of their better players in D.J. Kennedy to a knee injury in last week’s Big East tournament, and it will be interesting to see how the Red Storm does without him on the wing. Gonzaga won’t be scared of the Storm’s resume, though. The Bulldogs played a tough schedule themselves, and although they didn’t pull out as many wins as the team from New York, they have been battle tested all the same.

#2 Florida vs. #15 UC Santa Barbara (Thurs, 6:50 pm)

When filling out your bracket, you probably quickly penciled in Florida, thinking this game is going to be a blowout. In the words of Lee Corso, “not so fast, my friend”. The Gauchos may be a fifteen seed, but they are capable of playing like a ten seed or better. Junior guard Orlando Johnson is capable of having one of the best performances in the entire tournament, and he will be a major test for the Gator defense. In addition, UCSB also plays good defense, and has the ability to keep the game close to give their star Johnson a chance to shine. This game is in Tampa, but do not underestimate the Gauchos. They were in the tournament last year, so they won’t be blinded by the bright lights of the big stage.

Team That Could Make a Run

Michigan State

It’s March, which means that Tom Izzo is now one of the most dangerous men in the country. Izzo knows how to get it done in the tournament, there is no denying that. However, past success is not the only reason the Spartans have a reason to feel good about their chances. In the second round, they start against a UCLA team that has been struggling as of late, and has to make the cross-country trip to Tampa to play. Then, in the second round, the Spartans would likely play a Florida team, who in 2003, they beat in the round of 32 when Florida was a two seed and Michigan State was a seven. The site of that game? Tampa.

My Picks

2nd Round

#1 Pittsburgh over #16 UNC Asheville

#9 Old Dominion over #8 Butler

#5 Kansas State over #12 Utah State

#13 Belmont over #4 Wisconsin (upset alert)

#11 Gonzaga over #6 St. John’s (upset alert)

#3 BYU over #14 Wofford

#10 Michigan State over #7 UCLA

#2 Florida over #15 UC Santa Barbara

3rd Round

#1 Pittsburgh over #9 Old Dominion

#5 Kansas State over #13 Belmont

#3 BYU over #11 Gonzaga

#10 Michigan State over #2 Florida (upset alert)

Sweet 16

#5 Kansas State over #1 Pittsburgh (upset alert)

#10 Michigan State over #3 BYU (upset alert)

Elite 8

#10 Michigan State over #5 Kansas State (upset alert)

Now that I’ve broken down every region, and you can see my region winners, here are my picks for the Final Four games.

Final Four

National Semifinals

#1 Ohio State over #2 San Diego State

#1 Kansas over #10 Michigan State

Championship

#1 Ohio State over #1 Kansas

Well, there you have it. My entire bracket completely laid out, for the world to see. Of course, that also means I’m liable to take any comments that come my way if (1. St. John’s actually makes it to the Final Four, 2. Michigan State loses to UCLA, 3. Pittsburgh is finally for real) or any other mistake I made along the way. Of course, there is a reason why they call it March Madness; I’m going to be wrong. That’s the beauty of a tournament (ahem, FBS college football…), and it’s why the first four days of the NCAA Tournament are my favorite days of the entire year. So go on…stop reading this blog, and get ready for the Madness to begin!

Any comments, questions, or concerns can be sent to kbecks@aroundthecorn.com. Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to read my work. I sincerely appreciate it.

- K. Becks

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