South Region: Kansas and Florida will reach Regional Final
The NCAA Sweet 16 continues on Friday with two great matchups in the South Region. The region thus far has gone as many expected with one huge exception, the Georgetown Hoyas. Outside of a huge upset in the first round, most of the favorites have held their own and moved on to the semifinals in the region.
An unprecedented upset of a No. 2 seed by a No. 15 seed opened the South Region’s first round when the Hoyas were beaten by Florida Gulf Coast. The upset was shocking as Georgetown had been playing very well and had one of the nation’s best players in Otto Porter. Georgetown, in their last 5 NCAA tournament appearances, has been eliminated by an opponent that was a double-digit seed.
UCLA, given a No. 6 seed, was also defeated early by Minnesota seeded No. 11. That loss did not cost Ben Howland the head coach of UCLA his job, but it was the straw that broke the camel’s back forcing the UCLA athletic department to fire him.
The South Region also saw the worst turnaround in its history. VCU routed Akron in its first game by 46 points, but were then completely dominated by Michigan in the second round and lost by 25.
Just four teams remain in the region including the Cinderella Florida Gulf Coast Eagles. The Eagles not only upset Georgetown, but also succeeded in defeating San Diego State to reach the Sweet 16.
However, the other three teams in the region are three of the top four seeds. Top seeded Kansas, No. 3 seeded Florida and No. 4 seed Michigan are all still alive and will play on Friday to see who reaches the region final to be played on Sunday, with the winner reaching the Final Four.
The matchups for Friday’s semifinals pit Kansas against Michigan and Florida Gulf Coast versus Florida. Trey Burke the court general for Michigan will lead his Wolverines against the big and physical Jayhawks. Michigan went through a period where they did not play well even though their depth is exceptional. This matchup is the strong back court of Michigan matching up against the superior size of Kansas’ frontcourt, which is led by Jeff Withey a 7-footer.
The second semifinal in the region features a No. 3 seeded Florida Gators teams that has one of the nation’s toughest defenses. Their opponent is the upset minded Gulf Coast team. The Gators defense picks up opponents in their own end and hounds them the entire length of the court.
Gulf Coast will have a hard time matching up against the tough Florida defense and should be shut down in this matchup. However, if the Eagles can stay close they could steal the game late. Nevertheless, a more likely outcome is the Eagles are blown out by Florida, which is notorious for blowing out weaker opponents.