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Southwest: Kansas seeks redemption
Kansas was knocked off in the second round by Northern Iowa last season. Don’t expect the Jayhawks to bow out quite as quickly this year.
Bill Self might go up against his former team, Illinois, in the second round if the Illini get past UNLV.
This is the all-injury region. Purdue is the No. 3 seed and has been without standout forward Robbie Hummel all season. Georgetown was in line to get a high seed until starting point guard Chris Wright broke his wrist a few weeks ago. The Hoyas slid to a No. 6, but are hopeful of getting Wright back in time for their first-round matchup.
Ditto for Florida State, which earned a No. 10 seed and hopes to get its star, Chris Singleton, back in time for its game against No. 7 Texas A&M. Singleton has been out for the past month with a foot injury.
Plenty of coaches who have gotten the most out of their talent are in this region: Notre Dame’s Mike Brey, Purdue’s Matt Painter, Louisville’s Rick Pitino and Texas A&M’s Mark Turgeon.
Best first-round matchup: No. 4 Vanderbilt vs. No. 13 Richmond — Not only are these two terrific coaches in Kevin Stallings and Chris Mooney, but there also are plenty of players in this one. Vandy has Jeffery Taylor, John Jenkins and Festus Ezeli while the Spiders have Kevin Anderson and Justin Harper.
Best potential matchup: No. 2 Notre Dame vs. No. 3 Purdue — Two schools close in proximity that could meet in the Sweet 16. The Irish have more balance and are led by Ben Hansbrough while the Boilermakers will take advantage of JaJuan Johnson down low.
Upset special: No. 11 USC over No. 6 Georgetown — The Trojans still have to beat VCU in the First Four just to get to the Hoyas, but G’Town won’t have Wright at 100 percent.
Cinderella? No. 13 Richmond — The Spiders won the A-10 tournament and have one of the nation’s most underrated point guards in Kevin Anderson and a future pro in athletic forward Justin Harper.
My pick: Kansas — I was worried about the Jayhawks' leadership and ability to implement Josh Selby into the rotation. Self has done the right thing, sticking with veteran guards Brady Morningstar and Tyrel Reed, who both move the ball, make shots and defend.
- A year ago, Kansas went in with all the expectations. Self returns to his old stomping grounds, Tulsa, where he coached years ago. Will KU be tested early after being knocked off by Northern Iowa in the second round last season?
- Illinois has underachieved all season. Can Bruce Weber get this team playing with a sense of urgency? Senior Demetri McCamey has to step up in order for Illinois to beat UNLV and give Kansas a game.
- Injuries. Two of the key ones are in this region: Georgetown’s Wright is expected to return after missing the past few weeks with a broken wrist. Florida State’s Singleton is hopeful of coming back after missing the past month with a broken foot. Can these guys pick up where they left off?
- NCAA Bracket Central | Printable
- Play Bracket Challenge
- Goodman regional breakdowns: East | West | Southeast | Southwest
- Video breakdowns: East | West | Southeast | Southwest
- Gallery: Top 10 first-round matchups
- Video: Hoops Hysteria: Covering the 68 from every angle
- Video: Goodman's Final Four picks
- Goodman: Analyzing top seeds
- Illinois coach Weber opens up against UNLV coach Lon Kruger, who formerly coached in Champaign. If he wins, he’ll go up against Self, the guy he replaced at Illinois.
- Purdue lost Hummel prior to the start of the season with another torn ACL, but the Boilermakers have exceeded expectations, and much of it is because of the stellar play of big man JaJuan Johnson and E’Twaun Moore.
Top Players to Watch:
- Marcus Morris, 6-9, 235, F, Jr., Kansas
- John Jenkins, 6-4, 210, G, Soph., Vanderbilt
- JaJuan Johnson, 6-10, 220, F-C, Sr., Purdue
- E’Twaun Moore, 6-4, 190, G, Sr., Purdue
- Ben Hansbrough, 6-3, 205, G, Sr., Notre Dame
Best Player You’ve Never Heard of: Justin Harper, 6-10, 225, F, Richmond
Overrated: No. 4 Louisville
Underrated: No. 13 Richmond
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