By Dennis Berry
The South regional at Cowboys Stadium might be the most interesting one this year. You have two schools that have won NCAA titles in the last eight years. Florida won it in 2006 and 2007. Kansas won it in 2008 and was the runner-up last year. So this regional features two championship winning coaches in Billy Donovan and Bill Shelf. You also have Michigan, who is playing well after getting out of Big 10 play. Then there is also the story of the tournament this year: Florida Gulf Coast.
The regional begins Friday night with #4 Michigan verses #1 Kansas and then #15 Florida Gulf Coast verses #3 Florida.
Who is the Favorite?
If you had to pick a favorite going into this regional, it would have to be Michigan. They looked good in the first weekend defeating South Dakota State and VCU. Michigan is probably the most complete team in this region and has the best point guard in Trey Burke. He has plenty of weapons at his disposal as well. Glenn Robinson III and Tim Hardway Jr. both played well last weekend and Mitch McGary has been coming on lately as well.
The Florida Gators are tough to envision as a darkhorse. They have won 28 games this year and had the best record in the SEC. The SEC as a whole was a down conference this year and that makes people take them less seriously. Another problem Florida has faced this year is not winning close games. They are 0-5 in games decided by six points or less. All their wins have been blowouts. If they are going to come out of this region, they are going to have to win a close game.
Player to Watch
The key player in this regional is Ben McLemore. He is the best player on the Kansas roster and is a future top five NBA Draft pick – maybe this year. When he plays well, Kansas wins. When he is a nonfactor, the Kansas offense struggles. They need him to show up against Michigan if they want to advance to the Elite Eight.
Kansas has to play the best team in this regional. Meanwhile, Florida has a week to prepare for Florida Gulf Coast. While the Eagles may be on a roll, give Billy Donovan a week to prepare for a team and the Gators will be ready. Kansas wishes they would re-seed this regional so they could play Florida Gulf Coast instead of Trey Burke and Michigan.
The Florida Gators. The Gators have way more talent than FGCU and should roll on Friday night. After losing in the last two Elite Eights, the Gators will not let it happen again.
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