RTC Bracket Prep: South RegionPosted by nvr1983 on March 15th, 2010
This is the first of our four quick-and-dirty region breakdowns. This will serve to help the quick triggers who like to fill out their brackets first thing on Monday morning. For the rest of you, we’ll be providing more detailed game-by-game analysis throughout the rest of the week.
Favorite: Duke, #1 seed, 29-5. Yeah, I know it isn’t shocking that they are the favorites especially in what many are calling the weakest of the four regions, but the Blue Devils have a solid combination of perimeter talent (albeit limited in numbers) and interior players (quantity more than quality, but still something). With the way Jon Scheyer has been playing this season and the sudden re-emergence of Kyle Singler in the ACC Tournament, Coach K and the Blue Devils should have their sights set on Indianapolis.
Should They Falter: Villanova, #2 seed, 24-7. A Final Four team last year, the Wildcats had the appearance of a Final Four team a month ago (many will still pick them now), but after losing five of their last seven games to close the season some of that luster has worn off. Still we would be remiss not to list them here as all but one of those losses came on the road (neutral site in one case to a #6 seed) against a team that is in the NCAA, another team with a top-3 seed and another to a UConn team back when Jim Calhoun’s players still cared.
Grossly Overseeded: California, #8 seed, 23-10. I know they won the Pac-10 regular season, but as you may have heard the Pac-10 was awful this year. When we asked Mike Montgomery about the possibility that the Bears might miss the NCAA Tournament this year he was perturbed. While he might have made it into the NCAA Tournament it does not erase the fact that they did not beat a single team in the top 50 of the RPI ratings. The Bears might deserve a spot in the NCAA Tournament, but I think most people would agree that they have not earned a seed this high.
Grossly Underseeded: Siena, #13 seed, 27-6. This might be where they deserve to be seeded based on their resume this year, but this is the team with the most “growth potential.” The Saints struggled in their conference final, but they have won first round games as an underdog in each of the past two years. Last year they knocked off Ohio State as a #9 seed and the year before knocked off Vanderbilt as a #13 seed. With an experienced squad they would be a tough out as a #13 seed in any bracket.
Sweet Sixteen Sleeper (#12 seed or lower): Siena. Like we said they won their first round games each of the past two years and there might not be a team more set-up to be upset in the first round than the Robbie Hummel-less Purdue Boilermakers. If they get past Matt Painter’s crew, they will play the winner of the Texas A&M and Utah State. It won’t be an easy second round game, but since it is in Spokane, Washington, we can’t imagine that either team will have a huge following there (although Utah State could conceivably travel up there).
Final Four Sleeper (#4 seed or lower): Richmond. Anybody who follows college basketball is aware of the Spiders’ reputation for pulling off shocking first round upsets. That won’t be the case this year as they come in as the #7 seed against the #10 Saint Mary’s Gaels. Still if they can get past Omar Samhan in the first round they could cause all sorts of problems for Villanova with their Princeton Offense.
Carmelo Anthony Award: Scottie Reynolds, Villanova, 18.5 PPG, 3.3 APG, 2.7 RPG, and 1.5 SPG. He did it last year. He may well be the most dynamic small players in the nation not named John Wall. If anybody is going to carry their team to the Final Four out of the South Region it will be Reynolds.
Stephen Curry Award: Omar Samhan, Saint Mary’s, 20.9 PPG, 11 RPG, and 3 BPG. Just a year after Patty Mills left the Gaels, they have another potential superstar. Samhan isn’t your typical small-school star who is going to run up and down the court and destroy your team with a barrage of three-point shots. Instead, he is going to go down low and embarrass your big men while emasculating them.
Home Cooking: The South Region might as well be called the Sky Miles Region because nobody is playing close to home in the opening weekend. The only way any of these teams will play close to home is if they advance to the Regional in Houston and in that situation Baylor (probably), Texas A&M (maybe), and Sam Houston State (unlikely) would likely have the home crowd on its side. This could play a major role in determining the outcome of the South Regional.
Can’t Miss First Round Game: Richmond vs. St. Mary’s, Thursday @ 2:50 pm. Normally we hate it when two mid-majors meet like this because it feels like another play-in game, but this game is too good to miss. Richmond has been a borderline top 25 team throughout the year, but after a four-point loss in the Atlantic 10 Finals to Temple they slipped to a #7 seed. As a result they will face a St. Mary’s squad that destroyed Gonzaga in the West Coast Conference Finals. Look for an entertaining game with two of the best mid-major teams you will see all year.
Don’t Miss This One Either: Purdue vs. Siena, Friday @ 2:30 pm. This is the “upset du jour” in the first round for the South Region. It almost sounds too straightforward. A big-name school that has had a disappointing finish to the season—first with Hummel’s season-ending knee injury, then with an evisceration at the hands of Minnesota—going up against a small school that has the pedigree and the experience of having knocked off big-name schools in the past (see above). Still with E’Twaun Moore, JaJuan Johnson, and Chris Kramer, the Boilermakers will not be an easy out.
Lock of the Year: Purdue not “living up” to their seed. Even if they manage to escape their first round match-up against Siena, I can’t see them getting to Houston. And just remember that they were seeded well below where they probably would be if you looked at the ranking. . .
Juiciest Potential Match-Up (Purists): Richmond vs. Villanova in the second round. Sure the media will eat up the giant-killer angle with Richmond (ignoring the fact that Villanova is the most famous giant-killer knocking off Patrick Ewing’s Georgetown Hoyas in the 1985 NCAA title game), but between Richmond’s Princeton offense and Villanova’s bevy of talented guards this game should thrill everyone who loves “old-school” basketball.
Juiciest Potential Match-Up (Media): Duke vs. Louisville in the second round. Almost everyone is circling this as a potential trap game for the Blue Devils, but that only scratches the surface of the media angles here. Rick Pitino and his Karen Sypher saga will come up again [Ed. Note: Nobody was more appreciative of the Tiger Woods fiasco than Pitino.] Then there is the coaching matchup between Pitino and Krzyzewski. We will have replays of the 1992 East Regional Finals. [Ed. Note: If you aren’t watching you will know when it is on from the blood-curdling screams coming from the state of Kentucky. And speaking of Kentucky, Wildcats fans will most likely have an aneurysm. Who do they root against? Afterward are they happy that someone lost or sad that someone won?]
We Got Screwed: Notre Dame, #6 seed, 23-11. The Irish got all they could have asked for in terms of seeding, but they could have had a much better draw. They open with a very good Old Dominion team that nobody wanted to play (ask Digger Phelps). If they win that they will most likely get a Baylor team that is a trendy pick to make it to Indianapolis. So even though nobody in the South Region can complain about their draw too much, the Irish have the biggest beef. Looking at the draws for the other #6s I would definitely rate Marquette’s (East) and Xavier’s (West) as easier with only Tennessee’s (Midwest), most likely having to get through San Diego State and Georgetown, as more difficult.
Strongest Pod: Spokane. Tough call between this and the New Orleans pod, but that pod has a bad team (Sam Houston State) while all four in Spokane (Purdue, Texas A&M, Utah State and Siena) are solid.
Wildcard, Bitches: Chad Ford tweeted during the Bracket Selection Show that there were no lottery picks in Duke’s region. He might have been too kind. Outside of Duke’s team where Mason Plumlee is the #37 prospect and Singler is the #55 prospect on Ford’s NBA Draft rankings, only one other player is in the top 65: Purdue’s JaJuan Johnson at #50.
So-Called Experts: It seems like a somewhat even split between #1 Duke and #2 Villanova among the ESPN crew. Currently 44% of users in ESPN’s Tournament Challenge game are picking Duke out of this region, with Villanova at 34% and #3 Baylor garnering 11% of the vote.
Vegas Odds to Win Title:
- Duke = 8:1
- Villanova = 20:1
- Baylor = 30:1
- Purdue = 60:1
- Texas A&M = 100:1
- Notre Dame = 100:1
- Richmond = 300:1
- California = 100:1
- Louisville = 100:1
- St. Mary’s = 300:1
- Old Dominion = 300:1
- Utah State = 500:1
- Siena = 300:1
- Field = 50:1