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2014 NCAA Bracket: Picking the South Region

It looks like the Buckeyes are off to an especially tough region. We take a look at the other teams that stand between Ohio State, and the Final Four.

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

So the bad news is that Ohio State got a more than tough draw in the NCAA tournament, landing in probably the second toughest region of the four. The good news is, well, Buffalo isn't that far of a drive from Columbus, if you're into that sort of thing. Let's take a look at the other teams in the region, who could stand in the way of the Buckeyes on their march to the Final Four.

#1 Florida 32-2, SEC Regular Season, Tournament Champions

KenPom: #3

Best Wins: Kansas, Memphis, Kentucky (3 times)

Worst Losses: at Wisconsin, at UConn

The Skinny: Florida is only the #1 team in the country, who hasn't lost since early December, ripping through the SEC undefeated. They're super well coached, well balanced, and will be a bear for anybody to handle.

#2 Kansas 24-9, Big 12 Regular Season Champions

KenPom: #9

Best Wins: Duke, Iowa State (twice), New Mexico

Worst Losses: At WVU, At Kansas State

The Skinny: The Jayhawks are certainly one of the most talented teams in the country, and they are well tested (#1 SOS this season). The question is going to be how quickly, if at all, star big man Joel Embiid can come back, and whether he will be healthy enough to contribute. If he can come back, Kansas will be a strong contender to not just win the region, but win the it all. If not, the Jayhawks could be vulnerable.

#3 Syracuse 27-5, ACC

KenPom: #15

Best Wins: Duke, Villanova, UNC, Baylor

Worst Losses: Boston College (!!!), Georgia Tech

The Skinny: For much of the season, there wasn't a better team in the country than Syracuse. Then the wheels started to come off near the end of the year, starting with their embarrassing loss to Boston College, followed by a meltdown against Duke. If Syracuse regains their early season form, they could also potentially win the region, but they aren't playing their best basketball right now. Their zone defense will be a potentially tough matchup for Ohio State.

#4 UCLA 26-8, Pac-12 Tournament Champions

KenPom: #16

Best Wins: Arizona, Oregon (twice), Colorado (twice)

Worst Losses: At Washington State, at Oregon State

The Skinny: The Bruins are playing well at the right time, winning five of their last six after a double OT loss to Oregon, including winning a Pac-12 Tournament title by downing #1 seeded Arizona. The Bruins are a top 16 team in KenPom, and have a strong offense, and could also be considered a threat to go far in the tournament.

#5 VCU 26-7, Atlantic 10

KenPom: #12

Best Wins: At Virginia, Saint Louis, George Washington (twice)

Worst Losses: at Northern Iowa

The Skinny: Few teams are better coached across the country than the VCU Rams, a perennial mid-major favorite. The Rams force turnovers, play great defense, and have been tested strongly out of conference. They may have a tricky route in the tournament, but folks should count VCU out at their own peril.

#7 New Mexico 27-6, MWC Tournament Champions

KenPom: #28

Best Wins: Cincinnati, San Diego State (twice)

Worst Losses: UNLV

The Skinny: New Mexico doesn't play the most attractive basketball at times, but they have uncommon size for a mid-major squad, and have been consistent all year. The Lobos should get by Stanford, and could be uncomfortable for Kansas, for sure.

#8 Colorado 23-11, Pac-12

KenPom: 64

Best Wins: Kansas, Oregon, Harvard

Worst Losses: At Washington, At Utah

The Skinny: Colorado looked a lot more formidable earlier in the season, but they've faded a little, going 3-4 over their last seven games, including losses to California and Utah. The Buffaloes will have their hands full with Pitt, but a challange to Florida seems highly unlikely.

#9 Pittsburgh 25-9, ACC

KenPom: #18

Best Wins: Stanford, UNC

Worst Losses: NC State, Florida State

The Skinny: Pitt is very well regarded by KenPom and advanced stats, but outside of their recent win over UNC, they hadn't really beaten a particularly quality team. They also haven't lost to a bad squad either, but it's hard to imagine them sticking around past a matchup with Florida

#10 Stanford  21-12, Pac-12

KenPom: #37

Best Wins: UCLA, at UConn, at Oregon

Worst Losses: At Oregon State, at Washington

The Skinny: Stanford isn't exactly playing great basketball right now, after getting obliterated by UCLA in the Pac-12 Tournament, and losing three straight to start the month. Chasson Randle is a nice player, but the Cardinal will have their hands full with New Mexico.

#11 Dayton 23-10, Atlantic 10

KenPom: #53

Best Wins: Gonzaga, Iona,

Worst Losses: USC, at Rhode Island

The Skinny: Dayton will be no picnic for Ohio State, as the Flyers are led by former Buckeye, Jordan Sibert. Sibert, unlike just about anybody on Ohio State, can absolutely shoot threes. The Flyers hung tough in a very deep A10, and do a good job of finding high percentage shots. The Buckeyes should be able to force turnovers and get to the basket, but it will be a tough game.

#12 Stephen F. Austin 31-2, Southland Regular Season, Tournament Champions

KenPom: #59

Best Wins: Towson

Worst Losses: at East Tennessee State

The Skinny: Sure, Stephen F. Austin hasn't beaten a ton of top teams, but 31 wins are 31 wins, and their KenPom ranking isn't bad for a team in a mid-major conference. The Lumberjacks are one of the best teams in the country at sharing the basketball and scoring, which should provide an excellent matchup with ball hawking VCU.

#13 Tulsa 21-12, Conference USA Tournament Champions

KenPom: #68

Best Wins: Southern Miss

Worst Losses: TCU (twice), UAB, Oral Roberts

The Skinny: The Golden Hurricane probably wasn't the team many expected to come out of CUSA, with Southern Miss and Louisiana Tech sporting more impressive regular seasons, but Tulsa peaked at just the right time and won the conference's bid. After starting 1-6 on the year, Tulsa hasn't lost since February 6th, and could make things interesting for UCLA for a while. You know their coach, Danny Manning, former NBA player and maestro of Danny and the Miracles.

#14 Western Michigan 23-9, MAC Tournament Champions

KenPom: #113

Best Wins: Toledo (twice)

Worst Losses: Bowling Green, at Drake

The Skinny: Western Michigan has only lost once since February 1st, with but an overtime loss to Toledo keeping them from perfection during that stretch. WMU takes good shots, and David Brown can score the basketball (19.4 ppg). 6'11 Shayne Whittington could make things difficult for Syracuse, at least, for a little while.

#15 Eastern Kentucky 24-9 Ohio Valley Conference Tournament Champions

KenPom: #129

Best Wins: Belmont (twice)

Worst Losses: at SIU-Edwardsville, Youngstown State

The Skinny: EKU upset Belmont to grab the OVC bid. The Colonels can score (79 ppg), but can they do enough of anything else to hang with Kansas? Doubtful.

#16a Albany 18-14, America East Tournament Champions

KenPom: #177

Best Wins: Vermont

Worst Losses: at New Hampshire, at SMBC

The Skinny: The Great Danes upset Vermont, and held on against Stony Brook, to bring their mismatched jerseys to the Big Dance. Albany may beat The Mount, but a team that doesn't pass well, score well, or force turnovers will probably be dog food against Florida.

#16b Mount Saint Mary's 16-16 NEC Tournament Champions

KenPom: #190

Best Wins: American University

Worst Losses: Sacred Heart, Binghampton

The Skinny: The Mount got a little lucky, getting hot at the right time to grab a bid from NEC favorites, Robert Morris. The Mountaineers aren't a very good defensive team, which should be a nice contrast to Albany, and advanced stats don't think highly of them. They might be able to beat Albany, but when you're a .500 team from a bad conference, just getting into the Big Dance is enough of an accomplishment.