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BRACKET BLOG: South Region

The slight name change for this feature is a result of my realizing that I unintentionally "borrowed" the name of a fellow SBNation blog. Sorry, Chris.

Now on to important business. Click here to enter the 157th annual BOTC Bracket Challenge. The group name is BOTC: Bring On The Cats and the password is BracketCat.

Then follow the jump for discussion of the South Region, which finally is complete as of three hours ago.

Previous Entries:

The Teams

  1. Duke Blue Devils
  2. Villanova Wildcats
  3. Baylor Bears
  4. Purdue Boilermakers
  5. Texas A&M Aggies
  6. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
  7. Richmond Spiders
  8. California Golden Bears
  9. Louisville Cardinals
  10. St. Mary's Gaels
  11. Old Dominion Monarchs
  12. Utah State Aggies
  13. Siena Saints
  14. Sam Houston St. Bearkats
  15. Robert Morris Colonials
  16. Ark.-Pine Bluff Golden Lions

The Sites

  • Jacksonville, Fla.
  • New Orleans, La.
  • Providence, R.I.
  • Spokane, Wash.
  • Houston, Texas (Sweet Sixteen | Elite Eight)

The Breakdown

No. 1 Duke (29-5) vs. No. 16 Arkansas-Pine Bluff (18-15)
March 19 | 6:25 p.m. | Jacksonville

Yeah, no love for Winthrop. If you don't win the play-in game, then you weren't part of the real tournament. Sorry.

Contrary to popular belief, Duke did not draw the easiest region. It's just the region most likely to be prone to upsets.

But this game won't be one of them. Despite our sentimental attachment to the road warriors from Pine Bluff, this should be the end of the road for their epic and historical season.

GAMER: Duke 82, UAPB 61
KenPom: Duke 77, UAPB 51
Sagarin: Duke 83, UAPB 58

No. 2 Villanova (24-7) vs. No. 15 Robert Morris (23-11)
March 18 | 11:30 a.m. | Providence

Villanova is a hard team to figure out. A month ago, everyone rattled off four names without hesitating when discussing potential No. 1 seeds. Somewhere along the way, 'Nova fell out of the picture and Kansas, Kentucky and Syracuse moved on without the Wildcats.

But that good team from earlier in the season didn't just disappear. It merely ran into the difficult part of its schedule in one of the hardest conferences in the nation. This is a team with more returning Final Four experience than any other team in the field, and but for a few games either way, easily could be sitting in Duke's spot and vice versa.

All of which is a short way of saying that Villanova is gonna crush Robert Morris.

GAMER: Villanova 81, Robert Morris 70
KenPom: Villanova 86, Robert Morris 67
Sagarin: Villanova 89, Robert Morris 70

UPSET ALERT: No. 3 Baylor (25-7) vs. No. 14 Sam Houston State (25-7)
March 18 | 1:45 p.m. | New Orleans

I love Baylor. Not in the romantic sense, but in the bracketish sense. I was high on Baylor as a sleeper even before the field was unveiled and when I saw the Bears' draw, I giggled. Seriously.

A likely second-round matchup with Notre Dame, a team that lost to Loyola Marymount? Oh, sure, everyone's in love with the Fighting Irish now thanks to their little winning streak, but I think that's a team with which Scott Drew gladly will take his chances.

Then you could get Villanova, a team that stumbled down the stretch, and Duke, the weakest No. 1 seed? Uh, yeah, where do I sign up?

Baylor will bother those teams with its length, big-time. Duke is big, but not too athletic, and 'Nova has almost no post play. The Bears are a team built for tournament play, as they showed last season in the Big 12 Tournament and the NIT. And they'll have a virtual home court in Houston. What was the committee thinking in this region?

But first the Bears have to get past Sam Houston State, and therein lies the challenge. Nothing on paper would lead you to suspect Baylor could lose this game, but just like K-State, they're completely new to this level of expectation.

Plus, there's always an upset each year that just comes out of left field. I have a weird gut feeling that this could be it. Remember what happened the last time a No. 3 seed faced the Southland champ? Northwestern State 64, Iowa 63, that's what.

I'm not saying it will happen. I'm just throwing it out there for discussion. By the way, what the hell is a Bearkat?

GAMER: Baylor 74, SHSU 67
KenPom: Baylor 82, SHSU 69
Sagarin: Baylor 79, SHSU 66

UPSET ALERT: No. 4 Purdue (27-5) vs. No. 13 Siena (27-6)
March 19 | 1:30 p.m. | Spokane

OK, seriously, this one is too easy, right?

Siena, the team that has advanced to the second round the last two seasons, already having beat a Big Ten team to do so one year, and is woefully under-seeded, versus a Purdue team that without its best player was held in the 40s at home against Michigan State and to 11 points in the first half against Minnesota?

And they're both flying out to freaking Washington?

You can't trust the computer numbers on this one. Purdue was a very good team before Robbie Hummel went down and it was on the fast track for the No. 1 seed that Duke now holds. But not anymore.

Trust your eyes. Sometimes it is that easy.

GAMER: Purdue 66, Siena 61
KenPom: Purdue 71, Siena 65
Sagarin: Purdue 69, Siena 62

UPSET ALERT: No. 5 Texas A&M (23-9) vs. No. 12 Utah State (27-7)
March 19 | 3:45 p.m. | Spokane

The Aggie fight is the toughest game to pick in the whole tournament, in my opinion.

It has all the makings of a classic 5-12 upset. Utah State is a very good mid-major and virtually unbeatable at home.

Fortunately for Texas A&M, the game's in Spokane, not Logan. But will aTm have enough to win that far away from home? Other than Donald Sloan and Bryan Davis, there isn't much there to make you go, "Wow."

Yet somehow, the Texas Aggies got to 11-5 in the Big 12. That has to count for something.

Go with your heart on this one. Or flip a coin. It's a toughie.

GAMER: Texas A&M 67, Utah State 66
KenPom: Utah State 63, Texas A&M 62
Sagarin: Texas A&M 67, Utah State 64

UPSET ALERT: No. 6 Notre Dame (23-11) vs. No. 11 Old Dominion (26-8)
March 18 | 11:25 a.m. | New Orleans

All of these Notre Dame lovers that crawled out of the woodwork the past few days might want to consider that the Fighting Irish might not even make it out of the first round. In a region full of damn solid mid-majors, Old Dominion might be the best.

After all, the Monarchs waltzed into Georgetown's arena and beat the Hoyas straight-up earlier this season. That is a quality win.

Notre Dame's not a bad team. But neither is ODU. I think I lean toward the underdog on this one.

GAMER: Old Dominion 61, Notre Dame 58
KenPom: Old Dominion 65, Notre Dame 64
Sagarin: Notre Dame 64, Old Dominion 63

UPSET ALERT: No. 7 Richmond (26-8) vs. No. 10 Saint Mary's (26-5)
March 18 | 1:50 p.m. | Providence

When the lower-seeded team has a better overall record, is predicted to win by all three computers, seems like it should win based on the "gut" test and, oh, by the way, thrashed Gonzaga, the penultimate underdog program, in its tournament championship, you probably should pick that lower-seeded team.

Which is no disrespect to Richmond. The Spiders are a good A-10 team that beat a very good A-10 team in Xavier.

And they'll probably have the home crowd. But I don't think they have an answer for Omar Samhan.

GAMER: St. Mary's 73, Richmond 70
KenPom: St. Mary's 68, Richmond 67
Sagarin: St. Mary's 85, Richmond 84

No. 8 California (23-10) vs. No. 9 Louisville (20-12)
March 19 | 8:45 p.m. | Jacksonville

It's a typical 8-9 match-up. Louisville swept Syracuse, so winning this game would not be an upset. Hell, the Cardinals advancing to beat Duke probably wouldn't be an upset, either.

But Cal is underrated because of how crappy the Pac-10 was. For a while, the Golden Bears competed with KU in Lawrence, and they had a good RPI all year long. Plus, if you're in a crappy league, at least put some distance between it and you, which is precisely what Cal did in the regular season.

As with most other games in this region, go with your gut or your trusty quarter. You probably can't go wrong.

GAMER: Cal 75, Louisville 68
KenPom: Cal 78, Louisville 75
Sagarin: Cal 75, Louisville 74