Wednesday, March 19, 2008

South Region Preview


The South Region is going to be one of the most exciting regions in the NCAA Tournament. It comes in with Memphis as the top-seed, Big 12 champion Texas at No. 2 and a Stanford team that took UCLA to the wire three times as the No. 3 seed. Oh, it also has Big East Tournament champ Pitt and a preseason top-10 team in Michigan State. With all of the talent at the top, it lacks room for upsets, right? Wrong. Atlantic-10 tourney champ Temple and Saint Mary’s are certainly capable of picking up some wins. This is going to be a fun bracket.

Favorite: Memphis. The Tigers were at the top of the rankings for much of the season before struggling a little in February, but they have their swagger back. This might be the deepest team in the country. Chris Douglas-Roberts is an All-American, and he and Derrick Rose form one of the best perimeter tandems around. Joey Dorsey is a dominant defender and rebounder, while Robert Dozier creates match-up problems. Antonio Anderson can do a little of everything.

Contenders: Texas, Stanford. Had Texas won the Big 12 Tournament, it would have likely been a No. 1 seed – instead, it gets to play the regionals in Houston. If they get that far, that will provide them with a huge advantage. D.J. Augustin might be the best point guard in the country, while A.J. Abrams can really shoot the ball. Damion James is a difficult player to match-up with, and Connor Atchley is one of the best role players in the country. Stanford was the clear-cut No. 2 in the Pac-10 behind UCLA, and the Cardinal should have defeated the Bruins at least once. They have one of the best frontcourts in the country, led by All-America Brook Lopez and his twin brother, Robin. Anthony Goods provides scoring balance from the perimeter. This team plays outstanding defense and is very difficult to score against.

Sleepers: Marquette, Mississippi State. With all of the talented teams at the top of the bracket, it might be tough for one of these middle seeds to break through, but there are certainly possibilities. Marquette has an outstanding perimeter group that has carried them throughout the year. Dominic James is fearless and Jerel McNeal can make plays at both ends. Wesley Matthews is the x-factor on the wings. Up front, Lazar Hayward provides an inside-outside option for the Golden Eagles. When this team is forcing turnovers and hitting shots, look out. Mississippi State bounced back from a disappointing non-conference campaign to finish second in the SEC. The Bulldogs play great defense, not allowing any easy shots within the arc. Jamont Gordon is a very difficult match-up offensively due to his strength and size, while Charles Rhodes can dominate the low. Jarvis Varnado is a premier shot-blocker.

Non-BCS Teams to Watch: Saint Mary’s, Oral Roberts. If Saint Mary’s beats Miami (Fl.) in the first-round, it won’t even be much of an upset. The Gaels have been playing at a high level all season, and have the pieces to win a game or two. Patty Mills is a very good freshman point guard, while Diamon Simpson is a very difficult match-up in the frontcourt. Omar Samhan makes an impact at both ends. Oral Roberts is not the same team it has been in the past couple of seasons, but it still has the weapons to throw a scare into Pittsburgh. Robert Jarvis is an outstanding scorer, and he can single-handedly carry the Crusaders to an upset. Although it might not get the win, ORU has experience and will not back down.

Upset Pick: Temple over Michigan State. Yet another potential upset involving an Atlantic-10 team. Michigan State has struggled mightily away from home this season, and has not been overly impressive lately. On the other hand, Temple won the A-10 conference tournament and is hot heading into the Dance. Dionte Christmas is a big-time scorer, as is Mark Tyndale. If the Owls can slow down Raymar Morgan and hit shots late in the game, look out for them to advance.

Top Five Players (only one per team):

1. Brook Lopez, Stanford
2. D.J. Augustin, Texas
3. Chris Douglas-Roberts, Memphis
4. Jamont Gordon, Mississippi State
5. Sam Young, Pittsburgh


  1. ORU Golden Eagles not Crusaders

  2. Yeah, you're right...I made that mistake a couple of times...Valpo is the Crusaders, no?