Thursday, March 19, 2009

March Madness: South Region Part 1

As games begin today we are going to take a look at each region. We will take a look at the top 2 seeds in each region and show why they can win it all. We will also look at other teams to watch and what first round upsets to expect. First up is the South region:

No. 1 seed North Carolina Tar Heels:

Why they will win it all: The Tar Heels are a talented veteran team. All five of their starters are juniors or seniors with previous tournament experience. UNC was also the 2nd best scoring team in the nation, with all five of their starters averaging double figures. Senior power forward Tyler Hansbrough and junior point guard Ty Lawson are among the best players at their position in the nation.

Why they won't win it all: Though the Tar Heels are one of the best offensive teams in the tournament they struggle defensively. They lack size and strength in the middle and are vulnerable to premier post players. Another big factor that could diminish their tournament hopes is the health of their point guard. Lawson, nursing a toe injury, sat out the ACC tournament and the team wasn't the same without him. They barely made it past Virginia Tech before losing to Florida State in the semi-finals. If Lawson misses time in the tournament or isn't 100 percent it will be an uphill climb for the Tar Heels to cut down the nets in Detroit.

Player to watch: Ty Lawson. When healthy Lawson is one of the top point guards in college. He is an all-around guard who averaged 15.9 points per game to go along with 6.5 assists. He is the Tar Heels best 3-point shooter and hit over 80% of his free throws. Lawson helps to open up Hansbourgh as well as fellow wing-men senior Danny Green and Junior Wayne Ellington. Carolina sorely missed their field general during the ACC tournament and will need Lawson to come back healthy for them to make a run at the national title.

Prediction: UNC is a talented team but they have a tough road ahead of them that will make it difficult to make it past the Elite Eight. Potential 2nd and 3rd round match-ups against LSU and Gonzaga could give Carolina a scare. If they do make it to the Elite Eight, I don't know if the Tar Heels possess the size inside to match up against Oklahoma or Syracuse.

1st Round upset: 12th seed Western Kentucky over 5th seed Illinois: The Hilltoppers look to play Cinderella for the 2nd year in a row after advancing to the Sweet 16 last season. They are a small team, but are excellent shooters. If they are on Western Kentucky is deadly beyond the arc.

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