The Top seed is Flawed: Kansas really is a two man show – Ben McLemore, a star, and Jeff Withey, a shot-blocking force. Other than that, the Jayhawks have a bunch of hit-and-miss role players. Elijah Johnson, their streaky point guard, will be the key to a Final Four run. KU is the lowest-ranked #1 seed according to Ken Pom (8th, behind Pittsburgh, which is an 8th seed), and remember, KU lost to lowly TCU and was blown out by Baylor at the end of the regular season.
Random Stat: Florida is 0-6 in games decided by single digits this season.
Future NBA Players: Ben McLemore (Kansas) could be the No. 1 pick in the June draft. Otto Porter (Georgetown) could be the No. 1 pick in the draft. Trey Burke (Michigan) could win the National POY award. Shabazz Muhammad of UCLA was considered a Top 3 pick in the 2013 draft, but then he stepped on the court and now he’s considered more of a late-lottery pick.
All-important Ken Pom defensive efficiency team to watch: The stats say Florida is a monster. Current Ken Pom rankings: overall (1), offensive efficiency (5), defensive efficiency (2). But the Gators have lost four of nine to close the season and if you care about “ranked teams,” Florida’s last win over a ranked team was Feb. 12 against Kentucky. That was the Nerlens Noel game. The Wildcats didn’t make the field.
Best Leaper in the Region: Rodney Williams, Minnesota.
Double-digit Darkhorse: South Dakota State (13). The Jackrabbits have one of the best guards you probably don’t know much about (Nate Wolters), and Michigan can be shaky defensively (58th, according to Ken Pom) and lost in the first round last year to Ohio.
Upset special: Give me North Carolina – which I’ve been down on all year – over Kansas in the second round. The Tar Heels have been hot from deep lately, especially PJ Hairston, Reggie Bullock and Marcus Paige. I’ll look forward to the McAdoo-Withey showdown inside.
If you like Dunks: Jamaal Franklin of San Diego St had one of the best dunks of the regular season.
Matchups I can’t wait to see: Burke vs. VCU’s press in the second round; UNC vs. Kansas (Roy Williams vs. his old school; also a rematch from the 2012 Elite 8); Georgetown vs. Kansas (for Porter vs. McLemore).
Regular season result you may or may not care about: Florida Gulf Coast beat Miami very early in the season (Durand Scott didn’t play for the Hurricanes). That result, plus Georgetown struggling in the tourney in its last four dances (2-4, two first round losses) means keep an eye on an upset.
Underdog, but only in seeding: Minnesota (11) vs. UCLA (6). The Gophers are 3-point favorites.
Nate Silver likes …: Florida.
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