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The NCAA Tournament South Region is a hodge-podge of tournament veterans, unproven newcomers and those ready to join the elite class of college basketball.
The Duke Blue Devils, love them or hate them, are the number 1-seed in the region and will have to overcome a lack of size and depth with their ability to hit the deep ball.
Baylor's reputation as just another team in the Big 12 changed this year as the Bears made an impact in the conference and earned the 3-seed. Many "experts" expect great things from Baylor this tournament season.
Another sexy upset selection is Siena over a mentally beat-down Purdue squad. They first lost Robbie Hummel and then proceeded to get crushed by Minnesota in the Big Ten tournament. The Saints upset Ohio State last year and provide a first round challenge the Boilermakers were looking to avoid.
Below is a team-by-team breakdown of the South Region.
Players: G: Jon Scheyer, G: Kyle Singler, G: Nolan Smith
Analysis: Will the Dukies live or die by the three this tournament season? As a team, the Blue Devils shot 40-percent from behind the arc during the regular season. Their weakness is down on the blocks, where Brian Zoubek (who played better down the stretch) will have to carry the load and provide a post presence Duke's been lacking.
Players: G: Scottie Reynolds, G: Corey Fisher, F: Antonio Pena
Analysis: The Wildcats stumble into the dance after losing six of their last ten. On the bright side, 'Nova features a deep rotation, as well as a backcourt that is second to none. Look for Jay Wright to rely heavily on tourney-seasoned Scottie Reynolds to return Villanova to the Final Four.
Players: G: LaceDarius Dunn, G: Tweety Carter, F/C: Ekpe Udoh
Analysis: Although slotted to finish at the bottom of the Big 12, Scott Drew's Bears wound up tied for 2nd in the conference. A big part of the unsuspected success can be contributed to newcomer Ekpe Udoh (13.8 ppg/9.7 rbg), who transferred from Michigan. LaceDarius Dunn directs Baylor on offense, averaging over 19 points a game.
Players: G: E'Twaun Moore, C: JaJuan Johnson
Analysis: With Forward Robbie Hummel's injury, the Boilermakers aspirations went from Final Four hopefuls to surviving the first weekend. Coach Matt Painter still has playmaker E'Twaun Moore and enforcer JaJuan Johnson, but Purdue's Indianapolis dreams look bleak.
5) Texas A&M
Players: G: Donald Sloan, F: Bryan Davis
Analysis: Although the team compiled an impressive 11-5 record in the grueling Big 12, be cautious when advancing Texas A&M in your bracket. The Aggies were a pedestrian 7-7 on the road this season.
6) Notre Dame
Players: F: Luke Harangody, F: Tim Abromaitis, G: Ben Hansbrough
Analysis: In the 5-game injury-absence of All-American Harangody, Abromaitis and Hansbrough carried the Fightin' Irish to key wins over Pittsburgh and Georgetown and proved to skeptics that Notre Dame was more than a one-man show. With Harangody back, the blue-and-gold could be poised to make a deep tournament run.
Players: G: Kevin Anderson, G: David Gonzalvez
Analysis: Richmond's last regular season loss came on January 20th in a double-overtime ball game against Xavier. The Spiders have quietly spun a web of success in the A-10 this season and enter the tournament with one of the best backcourts in the country. Kevin Anderson and David Gonzalvez make up over 40-percent of Richmond's offense. Don't be surprised to see the Spiders raise some eyebrows in Rounds 1 and 2.
Players: G: Jerome Randle, G: Patrick Christopher, F: Theo Robertson
Analysis: Coach Mike Montgomery and California claimed their first conference crown since 1960, albeit in an abnormally down year for the Pac10. Guards Jerome Randle (18.7 ppg) and Patrick Christopher (16 ppg) form a ferocious firing squad, with big man Jamal Boykin cleaning the glass down low.
Players: F: Samardo Samuels, G: Edgar Sosa
Analysis: Will the real Louisville Cardinals please stand up?! Rick Pitino's birds are once again dazed and confused heading into the post-season. Louisville managed to close out Freedom Hall with an upset win over Syracuse (their second win over the Orange this season) only to fall in the Big East tournament to a Cincinnati team in disarray. The Cardinals ended the season winning seven out of its last ten games prior to the upset. If the white suit fits wear it, but coach Pitino really has to be scratching his head as to what team will show up for him come round one of the tournament.
10) St. Mary's
Players: C: Omar Samhan, G: Mickey McConnell
Analysis: The Gaels are dancing thanks to an 81-62 beatdown of Gonzaga in the WCC Finals. Averaging nearly 80 points a game, St. Mary's is piloted by 6-11 Omar Samhan (20.9 ppg/11 rpg) and downtown-assassin Mickey McConnell (13.7 ppg, 52% 3FG%).
11) Old Dominion
Players: F: Gerald Lee, F: Frank Hassell
Analysis: The Monarchs return to the Big Dance for the 3rd time since 2005. First-team All-CAA Gerald Lee (14.6 ppg/5 rpg) is Old Dominion's foundation, with Kent Bazemore leading the charge on defense (nearly 2 steals per game).
12) Utah State
Players: F: Tai Wesley, G: Jared Quayle
Analysis: The Aggies had to sweat one out on Selection Sunday after they failed to secure the automatic bid that would have come with the WAC tournament title. Utah State's resume includes 27 wins, with their victory over BYU during the regular season acting as their golden ticket. Do not sleep on the Aggies.
Players: F: Ryan Rossiter, G/F: Edwin Ubiles, F: Alex Franklin
Analysis: The Saints will be making their 3rd straight trip to the dance under Coach Fran McCaffery. Siena features the fearsome foursome of MAAC Player of the Year Alex Franklin (16.3 ppg/8 rpg), banger Ryan Rossiter (13.9 ppg/11.1 rpg), marksman Edwin Ubiles (15.2 ppg) and facilitator Ronald Moore (nearly 8 apg).
14) Sam Houston State
Players: F: Gilberto Glavell, G: Corey Allmond, G: Ashton Mitchell
Analysis: The Bearkats earned their way into the tournament with a 64-48 W over Stephen F. Austin. Sam Houston State features one of the best scoring backcourts in the nation under the direction of Corey Allmond (15.9 ppg) and Ashton Mitchell (12.7 ppg).
15) Robert Morris
Players: G: Karon Abraham, F: Rob Robinson
Analysis: The Colonials earned their 2nd straight trip to the dance with a victory over Quinnipiac in the Northeast Conference Championship. Though not an offensive juggernaut, Coach Mike Rice has RMU enforcing in-your-grill defense that has thwarted opponents all season long.
Play-in) Arkansas Pine-Bluff
Players: G: Terrance Calvin, G/F: Lebaron Weathers
Analysis: The SWAC champs will need to win one more game to be admitted to the dance. The Golden Lions started the season 0-11, but rallied back to own a 14-3 conference record. APB's first appearance in the tournament could be brief if they don't hold on to the rock. The Lions are averaging over 17 turnovers a game.
Players: G: Reggie Middleton,C: Matt Morgan
Analysis: The Eagles have won seven of their last ten games heading into the NCAA tournament. They proved Cinderella's slipper fit nicely in the Big South title game, upsetting Coastal Carolina to earn their 10th invite to the dance. But like the boys from Arkansas Pine-Bluff, one more win is needed by Winthrop to truly consider themselves a member of the party.
More Team-by-Team Breakdowns
- East Region - #1 seed - Kentucky
- West Region - #1 seed - Syracuse
- Midwest Region - #1 seed - Kansas
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