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2016 NCAA Tournament Preview: South Region

Despite being the number one overall seed, Kansas was given what many believe to be the hardest road to the Final Four. See who stands between the Jayhawks and Houston in the South Region.

9th year senior Perry Ellis skies for a dunk in the Big 12 Championship Game.
9th year senior Perry Ellis skies for a dunk in the Big 12 Championship Game.
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Kansas was given the number one overall seed heading into this year's NCAA Tournament. For their trouble, they weren't given a less favorable geographic region, and have seemingly underseeded opponents all along their path to the Final Four. So much for rewarding the top seed. OFD's March Madness preview concludes with a look at the South Region.

(1) Kansas Jayhawks (16) Austin Peay Governors Des Moines, IA
(8) Colorado Buffaloes (9) Connecticut Huskies Des Moines, IA
(5) Maryland Terrapins (12) South Dakota State Jackrabbits Spokane, WA
(4) California Golden Bears (13) Hawai'i Rainbow Warriors Spokane, WA
(6) Arizona Wildcats (11) Vanderbilt Commadores/Wichita State Shockers Providence, RI
(3) Miami Hurricanes (14) Buffalo Bulls Providence, RI
(7) Iowa Hawkeyes (10) Temple Owls Brooklyn, NY
(2) Villanova Wildcats (15) UNC Ashville Bulldogs Brooklyn, NY

Potential Cinderella: #11 Wichita State Shockers

Despite many bracketologists predicting an NIT trip for the Shockers, Wichita State made the field of 68 by the skin of their teeth. Landing in the first four, the Shockers have NCAA Tournament experience from the last two seasons, and really good guard play from seniors Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker. They lost all three games at the Orlando Tournament, but were missing VanVleet who was sidelined with injury. This year's Shockers have the look of the Tennessee team from 2016 that was very highly rated by KenPom (WSU is 12th), but landed in the First Four. That team made a run to the Sweet 16, and very nearly made the Elite Eight. This year's Wichita State can do the same.

First Round Upset: #10 Temple over #7 Iowa

If you don't want to take Wichita State, Temple might be your next best option for a double digit seed to reach the Sweet 16. Their first round opponent, Iowa, has been in free fall since reaching the top spot in the polls in January. The Hawkeyes have lost six of their last eight games which includes defeats to Ohio State, Illinois, and Penn State. If the Owls can pull the upset, they'll face Villanova. While the Wildcats are a fantastic team, they've had their issues with early round games during the tournament. The Owls lost to Nova in a Big 5 game earlier in the season, but they've knocked off a top opponent, SMU, earlier in the season.

Can't Miss First Weekend Game: #4 Cal v. #5 Maryland

There will be some serious freshman talent on display if both of these squads hold seed to meet in the round of 32. Maryland's freshman center Diamond Stone is averaging just under 13 points per game to go with 5.5 boards and over one block. What makes these number more impressive is that he's doing it playing just over 20 minutes per night. The former top recruit is considered a potential lottery pick in the 2016 draft, but is currently the third highest projected pick in this game. Cal's starting five features two freshman projected to be lottery picks by ESPN's Chad Ford. Forward Jaylen Brown is scoring 15 ppg, and center Ivan Rabb is averaging 12.5 points to go with 8.5 boards per night. Maryland sophomore guard Melo Trimble and Cal senior Tyrone Wallace will ensure this game isn't just about the freshman, but the young guns will be the story if these two teams meet over the weekend.

Player to Watch: Wayne Selden Jr. - #1 Kansas Jayhawks

While Perry Ellis and Frank Mason get a lot of the publicity for the Jayhawks, Wayne Selden Jr. has put together a really nice season for Kansas. He was seen as something of a disappointment when he was little more than a role player behind bigger impact freshman Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid in 2014. This season, Selden has done a bit of everything scoring just over 13 ppg while grabbing a few boards and dishing some assists. On a balanced team that's shooting over 42% as a team from deep, Selden has made more than anyone else for the Hawks. He can also finish at the rim with authority. The real reason to watch him, however, is for the hope that he does something great, and his uncle is in the building to provide the appropriate reaction.

Top 4 Seed that Won't Reach the Second Weekend: #3 Miami Hurricanes

Full disclosure, my actual bracket will probably feature all four top seeds making the Sweet 16 in this region. That said, of the four, I think Miami could have the most trouble reaching the second weekend. Whether they face Wichita State or Arizona, their second round opponent will have much more tournament experience. Arizona reached the Elite Eight the last two seasons, and Wichita State has been tournament tested as well. Miami's last trip to the dance was during the 2013 tournament, and much of their roster will be getting their first taste of March Madness. The U is certainly talented enough to overcome a lack of tournament experience, coach Jim Laranaga has won games in March, and the Canes did play in the NIT Championship last March, but if you're looking for a reason to pick against Miami, you don't have to look to hard to find one.

Regional Final Pick: #1 Kansas over #3 Miami

Even with landmines all along their path, I think Kansas is too good not to make the Final Four this season. Bill Self seeding bingo demands a loss to a 16, 15, 12 or 6 seed, so unless you think Austin Peay is going to pull the upset, Arizona facing a not Wisconsin team in the Elite Eight is probably your best bet for a KU loss before the Final Four. That said, Kansas is experienced with depth at every position, they have won tough games away from home, and can beat you in a bunch of different ways. I like Miami over Villanova in the Sweet 16, but I don't think either can hang with the Hawks in a Regional Final.