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Sunday, March 17, 2013

NCAA Tournament Preview - South Region

ROUND OF 64 GAMES TO WATCH

Michigan vs South Dakota State

When Nate Wolters got hurt and missed the Minnesota game earlier this year, scouts had to be worried that they may not get another chance to see Wolters play against top level competition. A matchup against Michigan doesn't only give himself a chance to prove himself against a team full of NBA level athletes, it gives him a chance to go head to head with the best point guard in the country - Trey Burke. This game will be a must watch with all eyes on that matchup, but Michigan also has Glenn Robinson III and Tim Hardaway Jr who need good tournaments to boost their stocks.

Minnesota vs UCLA

With Jordan Adams out, this is a popular upset pick and I'd say Minnesota should've been the favorite with or without Adams. Regardless, Trevor Mbakwe should be able to feast on the Wear twins inside. Mbakwe is 24 years old and will earn his living crashing the offensive glass and being a bull on defense. He's a solid second round pick who can contribute immediately.

UCLA won't go down easy against Minnesota though as long as Shabazz is in the game. Shabazz shares many qualities of NBA superstars with one of them being his competitive nature. This is his time to shine and you know he will have a big game. Shabazz takes everything personally and you know he will be fired up hearing that they are actually the underdog in this one. A big tourney run could get him back in the running for  a top 2-5 overall selection.

ROUND OF 32

Kansas vs North Carolina

Usually you'd see this matchup in the Elite 8 or Final 4, but UNC has struggled for most of the year until deciding to play small ball. This will especially come in handy against Kansas, who has Jeff Withey to minimize drivers and shutdown opponents big men. The Tar Heels will be happy to stay away from him and jack up 3-pt attempts, where they have two guys in Reggie Bullock and PJ Hairston that are capable of catching fire. A key matchup to watch from a draft perspective is Bullock vs Ben McLemore. Bullock is an excellent defender and can earn himself 1st round consideration if he locks him down. McLemore on the other hand, needs to prevent that from happening. With the type defender Bullock is and McLemore's limited off the dribble game, that could be tough.

James McAdoo against Withey will also be good. Withey has decent lateral quickness, but McAdoo can definitely take advantage of him by drawing him away from the basket. McAdoo is overwhelmed by strength but won't have to deal with that against Kansas.

San Diego State vs Georgetown

If the bottom pod goes chalk, which Im not sure it does, it will be interesting to see how Jamaal Franklin can effect the game against Georgetown. Jamaal Franklin is an extremely tough defender and rebounder who plays all over the court and could end up drawing the assignment of Otto Porter. Porter has been one of the hottest draft prospect as of late and seems to be on his way to a top 5 draft selection. Does Porter give Georgetown that superstar they've been missing in recent tournaments? Georgetown always underperforms because they struggle to generate offense and Porter will eventually be called upon to save them in this tournament at least once.

Patric Young and Trevor Mbakwe battling down low in the Florida/Minnesota game would be a sight to see as well. Mbakwe is more of a man now, but he has more than a few years on Young. Both are currently second rounders.

SWEET SIXTEEN/ELITE EIGHT

If Kansas makes it out against UNC and Michigan survives the VCU gauntlet, they will meet in the Sweet Sixteen. At the shooting guard position, Michigan has the veteran in Hardaway Jr going up against Ben McLemore. On the otherside of the coin, freshman Glenn Robinson III will be matched up against Travis Relaford. Hardaway Jr will put pressure on McLemore to defend while Robinson III's impact could be completely diminished by Relaford's defense. Its a good chance for Robinson to step up and prove he can make some plays off the bounce.

At the bottom of the bracket, a Shabazz vs Otto Porter matchup is possible if UCLA defies the odds. Porter could also end up having to be defended by the ultra-athletic Rodney Williams of Minnesota. Williams is another senior who should be a second round pick.

If Porter/Shabazz do face off, the winner could end up facing Ben McLemore in the Elite Eight. That would be quite a run that features three possible top 5 picks.

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