As was already alluded to in our preview podcast, the South Region seems to be another great example of some strange seeding distribution. Michigan falling from #1 ranking earlier in the year to a four seed? Florida as a 3 with great balance cruising through the SEC and barely stumbling against Ole Miss in the tournament finals. The top four seeds were all talked about as potential champs at various times this season. So the South seems the most difficult to pick a representative to Atlanta with five top seeds that would surprise no one were they to reach the final four.
At the top we have Kansas, sporting perhaps a 'better' (though probably not tougher) team than the one that made it to the final game last year. The have another seemingly certain top 5 NBA draft pick in Ben McLemore, who leads the team in scoring. Elijah Johnson hasn't stepped up as many might have thought, but paired with Releford they make a solid defensive backcourt - with one of the best shot-blockers in the country anchoring the D in Jeff Withey. After a 3 game swoon where they lost to lowly TCU, Kansas has regained their form in winning the Big 12 (again) and the conf. tourney. Georgetown is a strong #2 seed led by super soph Otto Porter - himself among the tiny handful of legit national POY candidates. They play rugged defense (surprise!) giving up only 56 a game and they can win when they score only 37. (yes seriously that happened if you missed it) There's lots to like about #3 Florida and #4 Michigan - both capable of winning it all - and Shaka Smart has turned out another great team at VCU who won't have to win the play in game to make some noise this year. It's unfortunate that the Rams will have to face the Wolverines (yes I'm assuming here) in what would arguably be the best opening weekend game of the tournament.
But most of our readers care about this bracket because that's where Carolina has landed (along with UNC's Junior Varsity team from Los Angeles). The Heels were playing better than an 8 seed at the end of the year - but that argument only really works for the eyeball test. On paper they don't have enough hard currency to be bumped higher. What UNC fans should feel bitter about is getting a second round matchup against Kansas within spitting distance of the Jayhawk campus. (again I am assuming they will top a mercurial Villanova team) Even my Duke heart is rooting for this just to see the story - rather than putting the Heels through solely as an attempt the reverse jinx. Perry Ellis has added some scoring punch off the bench down low, but Kansas doesn't have a bullying presence to punish the smaller Heels lineup. But they do have the athletes to match Carolina, and the home court advantage might likely be the difference.