The 2013 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament has been set. In recent years, there has been a dominant team in the bracket such as Kentucky last year. This year’s tournament is up for grabs with Louisville getting the overall number 1 seed in the tournament, but did the committee give them the best draw to the Final Four? This has been debated back and forth and many think they were put in a tougher region than other number 1 seeds. I will offer some of my insights on my predictions and players to watch highlighting each region in the NCAA 2013 Men’s Basketball Tournament.
The Midwest Region has a potential meeting between Louisville and Duke in the Elite 8. I like Louisville to get out of this region and advance to the Final Four, but they could potentially have a tough 2nd round matchup with Missouri. Alex Oriakhi has a national championship under his belt with Connecticut and Phil Pressey is one of the nation’s top point guards. This could pose a difficult cover for Louisville in the 2nd round. Oklahoma St. and Oregon is another intriguing matchup in the 5 vs. 12 game. Oregon is coming off a win in the PAC 12 tournament and Oklahoma St. has one of the most talented freshman’s in the nation in Marcus Smart. Smart is averaging 15.4 PPG and if the Cowboys are going to make a run in the tournament, Smart has to step up and lead them. Another player to watch in this region that could impact the tournament is Greg McDermott. McDermott ranks 2nd in the nation in scoring with 23.1 PPG and with defenses keening on him, this could open up his teammates to put the ball in the hole. The emergence of Ryan Kelly has jolted Duke’s offense, but they have been a little too inconsistent for me to get out of this region. Tom Izzo and the Michigan State Spartans have always found a way to stay around in the tournament, but I don’t believe they have enough play makers on the offensive end. This leads me to the Louisville Cardinals who have plenty of playmakers with Peyton Siva and Russ Smith and a strong inside presence with Gorgui Dieng. The one thing they might lack is they are not a great three point shooting team. Despite this, I still think Louisville will make it out of this region and find their way to the Final Four.
Gonzaga claimed the number 1 seed in the West Region and face off against Southern U in the opening round. The Bulldogs will look to Kelly Olynyk to lead them in a deep run in the tournament. The potential player of the year candidate is a tough matchup for any team because he can step outside and hit a three or post up and score. Wisconsin faces a tough first round opponent in Ole Miss, but I like Wisconsin to win this game and do some damage in the tournament. Wisconsin controls the tempo of the game very well and their scoring comes from a number of different players. I believe their style of play fits the NCAA tournament very well. Arizona, Kansas State, and New Mexico are all other teams in this region that could pull off a run. Arizona was regarded as one of the nation’s top teams in the beginning of the year, but they had a series of ups and downs. Kansas State is led by Rodney McGruder who leads the team with 15.7 PPG. The Lobos of New Mexico had good quality wins this year over Connecticut, Cincinnati, UNLV, and Colorado State. They are peaking at the right time of the year with a conference championship win over UNLV. The sleeper of this region could be the Iowa State Cyclones. Thier high powered offense ranks 4th in the nation at 79.6 PPG and I look for them to get past Notre Dame in the first round. It is going to be tough for the Irish to slow Iowa State down and I don’t believe they have enough offensive threats to score with the Cyclones. This brings me to Ohio State who I think will get out of this region and advance to the Final Four. They are also a team peeking at the right time coming off a conference championship over Wisconsin and are led by Deshaun Thomas and Aaron Craft. Thomas is a tough cover for any defensive player and averages 19.5 PPG and Craft is one of the nation’s top defensive players.
The South Region is loaded with quality teams in Kansas, Georgetown, Florida, and Michigan. Kansas has a strong offensive attack led by freshman Ben McLemore and a potent inside presence with Jeff Withey. The Hoyas of Georgetown are led by Otto Porter Jr. who has a complete game. If Georgetown wants to make a deep run, they are going to need their playmaker to continue his stellar season in the tournament. Michigan needs to find some help for Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. if they want to get out of the South Region. The Wolverines have shown that they can’t depend on just Burke and Hardaway Jr. to win games. I believe the sleeper team in this region could be Virginia Commonwealth. Despite their loss to St. Louis in the Atlantic 10 championship game, Shaka Smart’s defensive press could lead the Rams out of this region. They have plenty of good athletes that speed up the tempo of the game which benefits their offense if they can cause turnovers on the defensive end. I also like Minnesota to get out of the first round with a win over UCLA. Tubby Smith won a championship with Kentucky in 1998 and is a coach that is known for his preparation. UCLA is without their point guard Jordan Adams with a broken foot. Adams was the Bruin’s 2nd leading scorer behind freshman sensation Shabazz Muhammad. Muhammad will have to carry the load if UCLA is going to make any noise in the tournament. I predict Georgetown to move on in the South Region in an Elite 8 victory over Michigan.
The Indians Hoosiers landed the number 1 seed in the East Region. The Hoosiers are very well balanced on the offensive end led by Sporting News Player of the Year Victor Oladipo. Sophomore big man Cody Zeller also poses a threat down in the low post with his playmaking ability. Look for Christian Watford to have a strong tournament. Watford is a versatile 3 that can also play the 4. Watford is shooting the three ball at .491% and can also take his defensive player off the dribble to the goal. North Carolina State could be a tough potential 2nd round matchup for the Hoosiers because of the athleticism they possess. They have a balanced scoring attack that is led by C.J. Leslie and a deep threat in Scott Wood who shoots .443% percent from beyond the arc. I don’t believe there will be any sleeper in this region and I think it will come down to Miami (FL), Syracuse, and Indiana. Syracuse has a strong backcourt with Michael Carter-Williams and Brandon Triche. C.J. Fair is also a versatile 3 man that poses a difficult matchup for defensive teams. Syracuse will have to get some added offense in the post if they want to make it out of this region. The Hurricanes of Miami are led by sophomore point guard Shane Larkin who shoots the ball well and puts his teammates in a good position to succeed. Durand Scott is the leader of the Hurricanes and when he goes, they go as well. Kenny Kadji is a good stretch 4 player who has been consistent all year for Miami. I ultimately look for Indiana escaping this region with a win over Miami in the Elite 8.
My final four consists of Louisville vs. Ohio State and Indiana vs. Georgetown. I like Louisville and Indiana to meet in the national championship with Louisville coming out on top. As I presented earlier in my article, I like the backcourt of Peyton Siva and Russ Smith. Louisville also has an attacking pressing defense that speeds up the game and forces turnovers that turns into offense.
If you play daily fantasy games below, I have listed a few start and sits based off of Fantazzle’s Salary Cap games. If you’re looking for players, these players are worth the value based off of their salary that Fantazzle has set for them.
(C) Gorgui Dieng salary of $21,600. This is a high salary, but Dieng will be utilized a lot in Louisville’s 1st round matchup.
(G) Phil Pressey salary of $17,500. Pressey is the vocal point of Missouri’s offense and will have the ball in his hands a lot.
(G) Marcus Smart salary of $26,500. Smart can fill it up and I look for him to do the same against Oregon.
(G) Mark Lyons salary of $13,650. Lyons is shooting 24% from the floor in his last 3 games.
(G) Antonio Barton salary of $5,000. Barton has not played in any of the last three games and don’t expect him to play in the first round.
(G) Ron Baker salary of $8,625. Baker has not played in the last two games for Wichita State and I look for him to struggle against a physical Pitt defense.