16 teams, 8 matchups. Who will be the four teams from the South that advance to the sweet 16? Lets take a close look at each matchup and see where all the teams in this region stand.
Memphis (1) -vs- Texas Arlington (16)
Upset Potential: 0%. Lets be honest, this game will probably be over by the first TV timeout. Memphis is more athletic that some NBA teams and will quite literally run T-A off the floor. The only way this game is within 20 points is if the Tigers are seriously looking forward to their round of 32 contest.
Player to watch: Derrick Rose. He has the potential to be the most impactful freshmen in the NCAA tournament since Carmelo took the Cuse to the title 5 years ago.
Prediction: Memphis 93-56
Mississippi State (8) -vs- Oregon (9)
Upset Potential: 33%. Usually the 8-9 game is a toss-up, but this seems like one of the most lopsided battles in a long time. Mississippi State was ranked for most of the season and won the SEC West while Oregon has been on the bubble since Midnight Madness and in no way deserved a 9 seed. State has 3 really good players in Jamont Gordon, Charles Rhodes and Jarvis Varnado and the Ducks suspect defense will probably allow Mississippi State to score with ease.
Player to Watch: Jamont Gordon is criminally underrated. He is one of the most complete players and can match up with any guard in America offensively and defensively. If his teams wins, his battle against Derrick Rose is must-see television.
Prediction: Miss St. 79-65
Michigan State (5) -vs- Temple (12)
Upset Potential: 40%. We all know how dangerous the 5-12 matchup has historically been in the big dance, and this matchup certainly fits the bill. Michigan State has loads of talent, but has been wildly inconsistent all season and often struggles to score enough points to win. Temple on the other hand has been one of the hottest teams in the nation lately and is probably playing better than many of the teams seeded ahead of them. They also have a player in Dionte Christmas who has the ability to take over a game.
Player to Watch: Drew Neitzel. When he is making his shots, MSU can look like a final four team. When he gets shut down, MSU scores 36 points in an entire game. If Sparty can get him the open looks he needs, then they can win this by 15 points. If Temple can shut him down, then its going to be a long day for the Green and White
Prediction: Temple 64-60
Pitt (4) -vs- Oral Roberts (13)
Upset Potential: 7%. No team is hotter in the nation then Pitt, who have played dominant basketball since Levance Fields returned from injury. Oral Roberts got a 13 seed based off of past reputation, but their team this year is not as good as those in the past and will be dominated on the glass by the bigger and more physical Panthers.
Player to Watch: Sam Young has blossomed into a possible Naismith Candidate and gives Pitt the reliable scoring option that they have lacked in the past few years. If he plays like he did in the Big East tournament, Pitt could go really far in this tournament too.
Prediction: Pitt 76-53
Marquette (6) -vs- Kentucky (11)
Upset Potential: 33%. If Marquette is making their shots there's no way they lose. If they are missing however they are extremely ordinary and Kentucky will be able to slow the game down and possibly grind out a victory.
Player to Watch: Jerel McNeal is going to be the guy who has to guard Joe Crawford, who is pretty much Kentucky's only reliable offensive weapon. If he can contain Crawford then Kentucky is not going to be able to keep up with a Marquette team that has many more consistent options to turn to on the offensive end.
Prediction: Marquette 68-59
Stanford (3) -vs- Cornell (14)
Upset Potential: 6%. Cornell is pretty good for an Ivy League team, but there is no way they will be able to stop Brook Lopez, who will be a half foot taller than any player the Big Red can match up against him. Look for the Cardinal to control the tempo and feed the ball to the post every possession, which will let them cruise to an easy victory.
Player to Watch: Lopez was overshadowed in the Pac-10 this year by Kevin Love, but he was quietly one of the most effective big men in the nation. As a true center, he can change the game at both ends with his shot blocking and polished offensive game.
Prediction: Stanford 71-52
Miami (7) -vs- St. Mary's (10)
Upset Potential: 55%. St Mary's has been a chic upset pick since the bracket was announced. They have big game experience and a dynamic point guard in Patty Mills. Miami has more talent than they are given credit for, but are an overrated 7 seed because they are one of the most inconsistent teams in the entire field.
Player to Watch: Jack McClinton. When his game is on, the Hurricanes can beat anybody such as when they upset Duke earlier this year. When he's missing his shot, the Hurricanes proceed to put the "U" in Ugly. He will be the barometer for whether Miami wins or flames out as another overrated ACC team.
Prediction: St. Mary's 63-61.
Texas (2) -vs- Austin Peay (15)
Upset Potential: 1%. The only chance the Governors have is if Texas gets in serious foul trouble and has to rely on seldomly used players. But with the way Texas has been playing lately, don't count on this to happen.
Player to Watch: Gary Johnson. When he his healthy, Johnson gives the Longhorns a post presence they sorely lack without him. While they probably won't need him against the Peay, he will defenitly be needed in later rounds because this bracket is loaded with big, physical teams.
Prediction: Texas 85-64