clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

BRACKET BLOG: South Region

My previews of four regions in 48 hours continues unabated.

While you're waiting on the next preview, which I expect to publish at 6 a.m. Thursday, make sure you go here to enter the 396th annual BOTC Bracket Challenge.

The group ID is 5240 and the password is dobermans.

Then follow the jump for a discussion of the South Region. Depending on your philosophical outlook, this either will be the chalkiest region of the four, or potentially the most upset-driven.

(P.S. I'm doing these out of order because tonight's two play-in games feed into one as-yet-non-previewed region, so I can't publish it until after midnight).


Previous Entries:

The Teams

  1. Kentucky Wildcats
  2. Duke Blue Devils
  3. Baylor Bears
  4. Indiana Hoosiers
  5. Wichita St. Shockers
  6. UNLV Runnin' Rebels
  7. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
  8. Iowa St. Cyclones
  9. Connecticut Huskies
  10. Xavier Musketeers
  11. Colorado Buffaloes
  12. Va. Commonwealth Rams
  13. New Mexico St. Aggies
  14. South Dakota St. Jackrabbits
  15. Lehigh Mountain Hawks
  16. Western Kentucky Hilltoppers


The Sites

  • Albuquerque, N.M.
  • Atlanta, Ga. (Sweet Sixteen | Elite Eight)
  • Greensboro, N.C.
  • Louisville, Ky.
  • Portland, Ore.


The Breakdown

No. 1 Kentucky (32-2) vs. No. 16 Western Kentucky (16-18)
March 15 | 5:50 p.m. CST | Louisville | TBS
Verne Lundquist | Bill Raftery

Cute storyline, at least. Big Blue Baddie meets Little Hilltopper Who Could in the Yummy, Kentucky-Fried home of Middle Brother.

Too bad the game will be a complete blowout. The Hilltoppers were a nice March story, but that story ends here.

GAMER: not available
Pomeroy: Kentucky 81, WKU 57
Sagarin: Kentucky 80, WKU 59


No. 2 Duke (27-6) vs. No. 15 Lehigh (26-7)
March 16 | 6:15 p.m. CST | Greensboro | CBS
Jim Nantz | Clark Kellogg

Look, we all know Duke generally blows in the tournament, and this particular Duke incarnation has done nothing to inspire confidence that it can win more than a few games in this thing.

That said, Lehigh is a extremely similar to the team that scared, but could not beat, what turned out to be an eminently beatable Kansas team two years ago. Northern Iowa had to finish what the Mountain Hawks started.

Don't pick Lehigh, people, no matter how much you might want to just for the proposition of wiping that pretentious smirk off Coach K's face. Just say no.

GAMER: Duke 74, Lehigh 68
Pomeroy: Duke 80, Lehigh 69
Sagarin: Duke 75, Lehigh 67


No. 3 Baylor (27-7) vs. No. 14 South Dakota State (27-7)
March 15 | 6:27 p.m. CST | Denver | truTV
Spero Dedes | Bob Wenzel

One stupid little utterance by Seth Davis, and the whole nation thinks this is a trendy upset pick now. But was the Great White Hope on to something? The computers seem to think so.

I can't for the life of me understand otherwise why they might think the Jackrabbits, in their first-ever NCAA appearance, might hang with the same Baylor team that wiped its orifices with us last week.

I suppose Perry Jones III could see his shadow and go back into his groundhog hole again, while Quincy Acy might fall down the stairs and break his old-man hip. That might do it.

Or not. Stick with the Bears until they at least play a team with some frontcourt size. Like, say, UNLV or Colorado.

GAMER: Baylor 71, SDSU 68
Pomeroy: Baylor 75, SDSU 68
Sagarin: Baylor 75, SDSU 69


No. 4 Indiana (25-8) vs. No. 13 New Mexico State (26-9)
March 15 | 8:35 p.m. CST | Tucson | CBS
Brian Anderson | Dan Bonner

Here's where the region gets interesting. None of the following four games met my criteria for upset alerts, yet for various subjective reasons, I was tempted to tag all of them with one. So instead, I'll write up my thoughts.

New Mexico State is a scary team. They have a big dude (whose name escapes me) who just had his way with poor ol' Louisiana Tech last week. I predicted then that this team would be a tough out for anyone.

Unless "anyone" has Cody Zeller, of course. That would seem to give Indiana the edge, even with the loss of Verdell Jones III, and the computers agree. Still, keep an eye on this one. Don't say I didn't warn you.

GAMER: Indiana 71, NMSU 67
Pomeroy: Indiana 82, NMSU 73
Sagarin: Indiana 76, NMSU 69


No. 5 Wichita State (27-5) vs. No. 12 Virginia Commonwealth (28-6)
March 15 | 6:15 p.m. CST | Portland | CBS
Brian Anderson | Dan Bonner

This is a rematch of last year's BracketBuster game, which VCU won in Wichita and which very will might have put the Rams into the field over the Shockers.

Much of America (and, initially, me) wants to believe that First-Four-to-Final-Four run was something more than an utter, once-in-a-lifetime fluke and that it can be replicated, starting in Portland.

Don't be fooled. This ain't last year's VCU, although it still is a pretty good team. Unfortunately for Shaka Smart, Wichita State rode an NIT championship run to become a very good team.

And now revenge is on their mind. Well, that and Spangles. Can't resist a hearty burger on a sourdough bun.

Anyhow, WuShock probably will roll VCU and continue to be America's biggest mid-major infatuation. Don't fall for the 5-12 upset meme in this one.

P.S. I hate when the committee does this crap. I want to see Wichita State play a power-conference team, not another mid-major. Seed them against a Pac-12 opponent and let's see just how bad that conference is.

Pomeroy: WSU 72, VCU 64
Sagarin: WSU 76, VCU 69


No. 6 Nevada-Las Vegas (26-8) vs. No. 11 Colorado (23-11)
March 15 | 8:47 p.m. CST | Albuquerque | truTV
Spero Dedes | Bob Wenzel

This ought to be simple, right? UNLV was good enough to light up North Carolina and finish in the top three of a pretty salty Mountain West Conference, right?

Colorado was the surprise, four-games-in-four-days winner of the inaugural (and sparsely attended) tournament of the worst power conference in the past 30 years, right?

The Rebels should run all over Ralphie, right?

Well, yes, if the computers are to be believed. And yet, I just have that nagging feeling that CU isn't done making waves yet. I'll pick UNLV, but I'm not sure I feel secure about it.

GAMER: UNLV 69, Colorado 65
Pomeroy: UNLV 70, Colorado 65
Sagarin: UNLV 73, Colorado 68


UPSET ALERT: No. 7 Notre Dame (22-11) vs. No. 10 Xavier (21-12)
March 16 | 8:35 p.m. CST | Greensboro | CBS
Jim Nantz | Clark Kellogg

Finally, after four of these write-ups, I give in to my instincts and drop the red alert.

It's not just because of GAMER, though.

My eyeballs confirm that Notre Dame is an average team that had a hot nine-game stretch in the middle of the season (in an average conference, I might add) and then came back to Earth.

Not that Xavier is anything to write home about, mind you. Ever since they "zipped 'em up," the Musketeers have been the very definition of average. St. Bonaventure had its way with them.

And since they're facing another Catholic school, you can't even say God is on their side.

None of it should matter. Xavier has Terrell "Tu" Holloway and Mark Lyons, and when they're on, few guards can handle them. The Irish's Aryan brigade certainly shouldn't be able to.

But at least we will get to watch Jack Cooley and Kenny Frease butt heads in the one of the best match-ups of ugly fat white dudes you'll ever see.

GAMER: Xavier 60, UND 59
Pomeroy: UND 64, Xavier 63
Sagarin: UND 62, Xavier 61


No. 8 Iowa State (22-10) vs. No. 9 Connecticut (20-13)
March 15 | 8:10 p.m. CST | Louisville | TBS
Verne Lundquist | Bill Raftery

Flip a coin. If it's heads, pick ISU. If it's tails, pick UConn. There's your analysis.

Sure, UConn is a tourney-tested team with a tourney-tested coach and a slew of NBA talent. It's also woefully dysfunctional and far worse than the sum of its parts.

Sure, Iowa State is a hot-shooting team with a unique four-out, one-in style and the niftiest passing power point forward in the country. It's also susceptible to long stretches of bad defense and inexplicable turnovers.

I haven't the foggiest idea who should win. Nor am I convinced that, UConn should win, it should be called an upset.

All I know is that Kentucky is going to demolish the winner. The loser might prefer to watch that on TV at home.

GAMER: ISU 69, UConn 68
Pomeroy: ISU 68, UConn 67
Sagarin: ISU 67, UConn 66