2015 NCAA Tournament Predictions: South Region

March 18, 2015

It hasn’t been easy coming home from work and dancing around the games already being played to write these articles, but in my mind it’s worth it.

Thankfully, I’m almost done.

Here is my final region breakdown, for the South Region.

Second Round Games to Watch

#4 Georgetown vs. #13 Eastern Washington (Thursday, approximately 9:57 PM ET)

This matchup will feature a clear contrast of styles, which should be fun considering both teams are very good at what they do best. The Hoyas are fairly slow and methodical offensively, but are one of the better defenses in the country according to KenPom’s adjusted defense ranking. On the other side, Eastern Washington likes to push the tempo, score lots of baskets and sometimes treats defense like an optional portion of the game. And while Georgetown isn’t grooming any individual stars with its tough defense, the Eagles do have a star on the offensive end. The country will learn the name Tyler Harvey on Thursday evening, the Division 1 leader in points per game. Harvey may not be able to cut through Georgetown’s defense as easily as he did during Big Sky Conference play, but the sophomore shoots 42.8 percent from behind the arc as well.

What makes this game particularly interesting is that the higher seed will be at a disadvantage from a location standpoint. The Hoyas will be travelling all the way across the country to play in Portland, while the Eagles have a much shorter trip and won’t have to deal with any time zone change. There is a reason that the top seeds are often rewarded by playing close to home during the first two rounds, so this isn’t something to just casually discount. However, if last night’s First Four game between BYU and Ole Miss is any indication, teams that rely solely on offensive performance may run into issues. I think that this game will be very close and Harvey should put on a show, so this is definitely one to watch.

#7 Iowa vs. #10 Davidson (Friday, approximately 7:20 PM ET)

These were two of the hottest teams in college basketball right up until Championship Week, where both bowed out in their respective conference tournaments surprisingly early. Both will look to rebound in the most satisfying way, by punching a ticket to the third round. What makes this game worth watching is that either team looks good enough to take down Gonzaga in the third round, assuming that the Bulldogs make it past North Dakota State. The Hawkeyes are a gritty team that fits the mold of the classic Big Ten squad, banging inside with its big men to own the boards. However, Iowa also has a capable scorer off the dribble in Aaron White, who will need to be at his best against Davidson’s tough zone defense. This will be a game where spot shooting is key, something that the Hawkeyes can struggle with at times.

Davidson has become a threat in the minds of college basketball fans ever since Stephan Curry & Co. made it to the Elite 8 as a No. 10 seed in 2008. But this year’s squad truly is head coach Bob McKillop’s best team since then. The Wildcats are heavily dependent on solid guard play and have several good ones. The top four scorers for Davidson are all guards and each of them averages double digits. It will be interesting to see how the Wildcats, who definitely have a quickness advantage over their second round opponent, will be able to deal with a more physical team than they are used to playing in the A-10. That being said, one of the reasons Davidson has its best chance to play multiple NCAA Tournament games since the glorious 2008 year is because the Atlantic 10 prepares it so much better than the Southern Conference ever did.

Team That Could Make a Run


Obama has the Wildcats in the Sweet 16, and the President may be onto something here. Davidson has a talented cast of guards that carried the team through the treacherous Atlantic 10 Conference to capture a regular season title and at-large tournament bid. The Wildcats can score at will (79.9 points per game), share the ball (17.2 assists per game) and shoot well (47.1 percent from the floor). The biggest issue for this team will be whether it can withstand the constant banging inside that it will face from both Iowa and potentially Gonzaga. Only two players for Davidson are over 6’8″ and only one of them (6’11” Jake Belford) plays significant minutes for the Wildcats.

Good three point shooting and strong defense are usually two ingredients of teams that spar for multiple rounds in the NCAA Tournament. Davidson possesses both, so its chances for success seem as good as anyone else seeded No. 10 or lower. If the Wildcats can find a way to minimize the damage done by the big men that they’ll come across, it could be another memorable year for Bob McKillop’s squad. And if you’re into superstitions, keep in mind that the team Davidson beat to begin its run to the Elite 8 in 2008 was Gonzaga. Who wants to bet that was Obama’s thinking when he chose the Wildcats to make it to the Sweet 16? Anyone?

My Picks

Second Round

#1 Duke over #16 Robert Morris

#8 San Diego State over #9 St. John’s

#5 Utah over #12 Stephen F. Austin

#13 Eastern Washington over #4 Georgetown (upset alert)

#6 Southern Methodist over #11 Georgetown

#3 Iowa State over #14 UAB

#10 Davidson over #7 Iowa

#2 Gonzaga over #15 North Dakota State

Third Round

#1 Duke over #8 San Diego State

#13 Eastern Washington over #5 Utah (upset alert)

#3 Iowa State over #6 Southern Methodist

#2 Gonzaga over #10 Davidson

Sweet 16

#1 Duke over #13 Eastern Washington

#3 Iowa State over #2 Gonzaga

Elite 8

#1 Duke over #3 Iowa State

Now that I’ve broken down every region and you know my regional champions, here are my Final Four picks.

Final Four

National Semifinals

#1 Kentucky over #1 Wisconsin

#1 Duke over #5 Northern Iowa


#1 Kentucky over #1 Duke

There you have it. I went along with 50% of the nation and chose the Wildcats, but you know what? I don’t care. I’m no longer here to make a bunch of insane picks that make people go “wow, he must know something” or more likely “wow, this guy shouldn’t be sharing his thoughts on the Internet”. Kentucky is the best team in the country, both with the eye test and on paper. Until someone beats them, I believe that and will stand behind it. If someone does beat the Wildcats, then that team should be congratulated heartily because it will have beaten a damn good team.

In case you don’t want to go back and look, you can view my bracket in full here once the tournament begins. And if you’re reading this before the tournament and want to sign up for my ESPN Tournament Challenge group, feel free to do so here. The password is “gigitty” and it is free to join.

Any comments, questions or concerns can be sent to kbecks@aroundthecorn.com. I appreciate your comments as well as the time that you took to read my work.

– K. Becks

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