SOUTH: Baylor (No. 3 seed)
Baylor is just too balanced of a team. With Pierre Jackson, Brady Heslip and Deuce Bello off the bench they have the firepower in the backcourt to keep up against some of the better backcourts in their division. Heslip and Jackson are both top notch shooters from the outside who push the tempo. Baylor’s first big test will likely be against the 2nd seeded Blue Devils, who seem determined to make something special happen. However, Baylor’s biggest advantage over every team is their size, which is something Duke just can’t match up against. Perry Jones III, Quincy Acy and Quincy Miller are three players Duke just doesn’t have an answer for. If Baylor can ride their size and outside shooting through the South bracket, they are a mismatch for any team.
WEST: Florida (No. 7 seed)
Florida is one of those “live or die by the jump shot” teams. But with the path they have laid out in front of them, that’s exactly what they’re going to need to advance. Kenny Boynton, Bradly Beal, Erving Walker and Erik Murphy (who has really come on as of late) are a tough group to match up with. When they’re hitting their shots this team can be really tough to keep up with on the scoreboard. If they can pass their first big test in Missouri, which will be a hard fought game and will ultimately most likely come down to the very end, the future looks bright for the Gators. The better teams they have in their bracket all force you to make jump shots and that’s exactly what they do best with their superior guard play. If they can get hot and stay hot, Florida will be a force to be reckoned with.
SLEEPER: Murray State (No. 6 seed)
Murray State is a team you might not know much about. They haven’t had the hardest schedule in the nation but they managed to put together a remarkable record of 30-1 this season. They are a team that’s not accustomed to losing and are extremely confident in their abilities. Isaiah Canaan is one of the nation’s best players and doesn’t get the national recognition he deserves. Keep and eye on them in that weaker West division. They’ve got a shot at making a run at the Final Four if they can continue to play at the level they’ve played at all year.
Which five teams will you be watching closely?
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