2012 NCAA Tournament Predictions: South Region

March 14, 2012

The top overall seed is in this region, and the one and two seeds won’t have to travel far no matter how far they go. Could that be an advantage? To find out, here is my breakdown of the South Region.

Second Round Games to Watch

#8 Iowa State vs. #9 Connecticut (Thurs, following Kentucky vs. Western Kentucky)

Many analysts are looking past this game and discussing a possible Kentucky/UConn third round matchup, which is a mistake. The Cyclones have to feel a bit disrespected, and that may show up in their play on Thursday evening. Led by senior guard Scott Christopherson, Iowa State is a dangerous three point shooting squad and should have the upper hand in that battle. The key for the Huskies will be whether Jeremy Lamb can catch fire like he did last year when Connecticut rode Lamb and Kemba Walker to the NCAA title. UConn will go as Jeremy Lamb goes because their outside shooting is not what it was last season.

Iowa State finished third in what was a top heavy Big 12 conference this season in a year where people did not expect much from the Cyclones. With that said, Fred Hoiberg and his team will not be intimidated by the defending champs, and are comfortable playing the role of underdog. This game could come down to the final minute, which would not be all that surprising for an 8 vs. 9 game.

#5 Wichita State vs. #12 Virginia Commonwealth (Thurs, 7:15 PM)

It’s a little unfortunate when the selection committee pits two teams that could potentially be giant killers against each other in the second round, but this should be a great game nonetheless. Wichita State is one of the top mid-major teams in the country and is also one of the better shooting teams. VCU looks to pressure teams into making mistakes and committing turnovers, but that will be easier said than done for the Rams. Wichita State runs a three guard offense that is experienced, although not in tournament play. The Rams will have to rely on some early game jitters to build a lead if they are to capitalize on their defensive strength.

VCU is a popular pick because of last year’s tournament success, even though this is a completely different team that coach Shaka Smart has brought back. One thing is for sure, however; no one should underestimate the potential of either team to make some noise beyond this game.

Team That Could Make a Run


The Runnin’ Rebels, as their name would suggest, are a team that is at its best when it can speed up the tempo of the game and force the opposition into careless turnovers. If UNLV can make it past a tricky second round date with Colorado, which likes to control the tempo of the game and play lockdown defense, the sky is the limit for the Runnin’ Rebels. This is a team that beat North Carolina at its own game back in November, and has shown flashes of brilliance at times throughout the season. In all likelihood, UNLV would be forced to again beat teams at their own game (Baylor and Duke) if the Rebels make it through to the third round. History would suggest Dave Rice’s team is up to the task.

My Picks

Second Round

#1 Kentucky over #16 Western Kentucky

#8 Iowa State over #9 Connecticut

#5 Wichita State over #12 Virginia Commonwealth

#13 New Mexico State over #4 Indiana (upset alert)

#6 UNLV over #11 Colorado

#3 Baylor over #14 South Dakota State

#10 Xavier over #7 Notre Dame

#2 Duke over #15 Lehigh

Third Round

#1 Kentucky over #8 Iowa State

#5 Wichita State over #13 New Mexico State

#3 Baylor over #6 UNLV

#2 Duke over #10 Xavier

Sweet 16

#1 Kentucky over #5 Wichita State

#3 Baylor over #2 Duke

Elite 8

#1 Kentucky over #3 Baylor

– K. Becks

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