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NCAA Bracket Picks, Southwest Regional: Kansas Jayhawks To The Final Four

Round of 64

#1 Kansas Jayhawks vs. #16 Boston Terriers: Boston has a pretty good defense and could stymie Kansas for awhile. Unfortunately, they can't really shoot that well inside, and the Jayhawks have one of the best three point shooting defenses in the country outside. Kansas.

#2 Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs #15 Akron Zips: Like Boston, Akron isn't a bad defensive unit. But they don't get easy buckets and they probably won't get to the free throw line much. This could be a competitive game for awhile, but Akron simply isn't efficient enough on either side to compete for 40. Notre Dame.

#3 Purdue Boilermakers vs. #14 St. Peter's Peacocks: The trend of great mid-major defenses culminates with St. Peter's, who have proven they're pesky enough to keep teams down off their offensive highs. Unfortunately, they combine this great defense with perhaps the worst offense in the tournament. Bad shooting, bad free throws, bad turnovers, everything. Worse for them, Purdue is great at both offense and defense. Purdue.

#4 Louisville Cardinals vs. #13 Morehead St. Eagles: See here. Louisville.

#5 Vanderbilt Commodores vs. #12 Richmond Spiders: See here. Toss-up game, slight lean Richmond.

#6 Georgetown Hoyas vs. #11 VCU Rams: VCU might have proven they could beat a depleted USC team, but the only way they beat Georgetown is by forcing turnovers ad infinitum. Georgetown is one of the best shooting teams in the country and they won't fall apart here.

#7 Texas A&M Aggies vs. #10 Florida St. Seminoles: They're a lot of trendy ten seeds to pick, but I like Florida State's killer second ranked national defense. All but one of FSU's losses have come to top 50 teams, and Texas A&M is straddling that border. The only issue with going with the Seminoles is that the Aggies are a much better offensive team, but they are turnover and block-prone, which is why Florida State seems like the pick here.

#8 UNLV Runnin' Rebels vs. #9 Illinois Fighting Illini: UNLV got royally screwed here, and they end up drawing a pretty good Illinois team to boot. I guess I lean Illinois; they have a really good three point defense to counter UNLV's awful three point offense (not that they take many, but it could really make it tough for the Rebels to get good looks).

Round of 32

#1 Kansas vs. #9 Illinois:  This could be a very competitive game. Although Kansas should end up winning, Illinois has played all their top ten foes (Texas, Wisconsin, Purdue, Ohio St.) fairly close to the vest. But there's a reason Illinois's a nine seed--they only went 2-6 against such competition, and five straight losses. Still, the Jayhawks best be wary.

#2 Notre Dame vs. #10 Florida State: The Seminoles are an oddity in that they're a great defensive team, yet they like to pick up the pace offensively. The Irish DO have the horses offensively to handle FSU's defense, and their defense should be just good enough to throttle a lackluster Seminole offense for Notre Dame to move through.

#3 Purdue vs. #6 Georgetown: The Boilermakers are just a better team on both sides of the ball, and match Georgetown fairly well. Turnovers could be the difference, as the Hoyas lose the ball a lot and can't force turnovers, while Purdue can. Purdue.

#4 Louisville vs. #12 Richmond: If you want a Cinderella team to hitch your wagon to, it's Richmond. And they are the worst possible matchup for Louisville--careful at holding onto the ball, their weaknesses cancel out Louisville's, and they're a great shooting team that plays at a slow pace. Richmond. (It's odd to say, but Louisville would much rather play Vanderbilt.)

Sweet 16

#1 Kansas vs. #12 Richmond: The Jayhawks aren't about to get upset by Cinderella two years in a row. Their three point shooting defense should hold down the Spiders, and their rebounding ability should be a distinct advantage. Kansas.

#2 Notre Dame vs. #3 Purdue: The Irish might be great offensively, but their defense has been a weak spot and they can't seem to get pressure on the ball consistently. Purdue is just too solid all-around.

Elite 8

#1 Kansas vs. #3 Purdue: The Boilermakers definitely have the ability to beat Kansas. Will they? They're probably a step or two behind, but I would like their chances more if they were playing with a full team. There's a reason people were griping about the Southwest. Sometimes you've just got to play it safe. Kansas.