Bracket Breakdown: South Regional

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By: David Kay

Synopsis
I hate this bracket.  HATE IT!  I don’t want to pick any of these teams to be in the Final Four.  I think West Virginia, Ohio State, Kansas State, and Georgetown would all be better options than any of these 17 squads.  I think if any regional is going absolutely explode people’s brackets, this is clearly it.  Nobody wants to pick Duke even though they are by far the best team in this group with #2 Villanova struggling mightily as of late and #3 Baylor being too much of a sexy sleeper pick to make the Final Four.  Purdue is hurting with the loss of Robbie Hummel and Texas A&M is just a boring team.  Good luck with this bracket folks.

Best First Round Game: #4 Purdue vs. #13 Siena
I was surprised Siena received as low of a seed as they did.  Don’t forget this is a team that has pulled off first round upsets in each of the last two years (beating Vanderbilt in ’08 and Ohio State last year.)  They are not going to be intimidated by the tournament or playing a higher seed.  The Boilermakers were embarrassed in their Big Ten Tournament Semifinal loss to Minnesota where they only managed 11 first half points.  They are 3-2 since Hummel went down with his season ending injury but those three wins came against weaker teams in Indiana, Penn State, and Northwestern.  If Purdue does make it past the first round, they are in danger of being upset by Utah State in the second round.  (More on the Aggies in my “Sleeper” pick.)

Early Out: #4 Purdue
I am a bit frightened to pick the Boilermakers because I am sure Matt Painter is drilling the whole “nobody respects us without Robbie Hummel” attitude into his player’s heads which can be a dangerous motivating factor.  In my opinion, Purdue drew the two most dangerous 12 and 13 seeds who are prime to pull off the upset.  They don’t have a lot of depth and if E’Twaun Moore has an off night, are very beatable.

Sleeper: #12 Utah State
Utah State nearly choked away a trip to the tourney by losing to New Mexico State in the WAC Finals, but were one of the last teams to receive an at-large bid.  I think they will win the battle of Aggies in the opening round against Utah State and can be the Cinderella that advances to the Sweet 16.  They can shoot the rock from the perimeter and have a few players who can really do some damage.  Remember, this team only lost to Marquette by one point last year in the opening round.

Player to Watch: Scottie Reynolds, #2 Villanova
Reynolds has not played exceptionally well down the stretch, but as we saw last year, he is cold-blooded.  Guard play often dictates a team’s success in the NCAA Tournament and I fully expect Scottie to be more aggressive and take this team under his wings rather than deferring to the surrounding talent.  That is the only way ‘Nova is going to make a run in the tourney.

Regional Final: #2 Villanova over #1 Duke
At first, I put Notre Dame winning this regional.  Then I realized I couldn’t do it.  I just couldn’t do it and slammed my head against the wall a few times as punishment for even thinking of doing so.  I feel the same way about Duke, Texas A&M, and a Robbie Hummel-less Purdue.  So that leaves Villanova or Baylor.  The ‘Cats are limping into the tourney, but have the experience and backcourt in Scottie, the Corey’s, and Reggie Redding to carry them to the Final Four in what is definitely the weakest of the four regionals.

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