2010 NCAA Tournament Picks: South


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2010 NCAA Tournament: South Bracket Teams

  1. Duke (29-5)

    WHY TO LOVE: Duke perhaps has the best trio in college basketball. Three players score at least 17 points per game: senior guard Jon Scheyer (18.9 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 5.2 apg), junior guard Nolan Smith (17.6 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 3.0 apg) and junior forward Kyle Singler (17.2 ppg, 6.8 rpg).

    The Blue Devils shoot the three really well, hitting 38.9 percent as a team. Amazingly, four players nail at least 38 percent of their long balls: Scheyer (39.9%), Smith (40.4), Singler (38.6) and freshman guard Andre Dawkins (38.8).

    In addition to shooting well, Duke plays tough defense, limiting foes to just 61.8 points per game.

    Fulfills all five requisites in the Portrait of a Champion (returning head coach, scored 76 ppg, 10+ margin of victory, in the tournament last year, seeded 1-4).

    WHY TO HATE: Since reaching the Final Four in 2004, Mike Krzyzewski hasn’t taken his team past the Sweet 16 despite coaching four teams that had 27-plus wins.

    Jon Scheyer is playing really well at point guard, but that’s not his natural position. This could hurt in March.

    Duke usually wins on the road, so it’s surprising that they were just 5-5 in away contests this year. Their only impressive road victory came at Clemson.

    THE VERDICT: Duke is a No. 1 seed, so there will be plenty of brackets that have the Blue Devils reaching the Final Four. Mine won’t. I think they’ll reach the Sweet 16 again and perhaps the Elite Eight depending on the matchups, but that’s it.

  2. Villanova (24-7)

    WHY TO LOVE: Save for Dante Cunningham, this is the same team that went to the Final Four last year, so you know that they’re capable of making a deep run. The Wildcats are led by senior guard Scottie Reynolds (18.8 ppg, 3.4 apg), who has hit huge shots in the Big Dance before. The top four scorers are upperclassmen.

    Villanova is dangerous from outside, hitting 37.2 percent as a team. Four guys are better than 35 percent from deep: Reynolds (39.9%), Corey Fisher (38.9), Corey Stokes (35.5) and Taylor King (36.2).

    Impressive road wins include West Virginia, Maryland, Marquette and Louisville.

    WHY TO HATE: The Wildcats don’t have great size, but that didn’t hurt them last year. Besides, guard play wins in March.

    Villanova limped its way to the finish line; entering the Big East Tournament, the Wildcats concluded the year with a 2-4 slump. Losing to Marquette in the tournament opener didn’t help.

    Doesn’t fulfill all five requisites in the Portrait of a Champion (returning head coach, scored 76 ppg, 10+ margin of victory, in the tournament last year, seeded 1-4).

    THE VERDICT: I’ll be shocked if Villanova doesn’t make it into the second weekend. Another trip to the Elite Eight could definitely happen.

  3. Baylor (25-7)

    WHY TO LOVE: Baylor has a great balance of terrific guard play and size. The Bears are led by junior guard LaceDarius Dunn (19.2 ppg, 4.7 rpg) and senior point guard Tweety Carter (15.8 ppg, 6.3 apg). The interior presence comes from Ekpe Udoh (13.4, 9.8), a 6-10 junior.

    The Bears shoot the three really well, hitting 39.1 percent as a whole. Dunn (42.4%) and Carter (39.0) are great from beyond the arc.

    The Bears are 7-4 on the road, with an impressive victory at Texas. They also gave Kansas all it could handle in Lawrence.

    WHY TO HATE: Baylor hasn’t won an NCAA Tournament game since 1950. That fact has nothing to do with this team, but I thought I’d list it anyway. This Bears squad has no glaring weakness.

    Doesn’t fulfill all five requisites in the Portrait of a Champion (returning head coach, scored 76 ppg, 10+ margin of victory, in the tournament last year, seeded 1-4).

    THE VERDICT: I love this Baylor team, and it wouldn’t shock me at all if they advanced to the Final Four. At the very least, they’ll get to the Sweet 16.



  4. Purdue (27-5)

    WHY TO LOVE: The Baby Boilermakes have grown up. Once a young, scrappy upstart, Purdue is a veteran club whose top five scorers are all upperclassmen. This team went to the Sweet 16 last year, so they definitely have ample experience.

    Two dynamic players: E’Twaun Moore (16.7 ppg) and JaJuan Johnson (14.9 ppg, 7.2 rpg).

    Purdue’s defense impressively limits foes to just 60.6 points per game.

    The Boilermakers are 8-2 on the road; they’ve won at Ohio State and Michigan.

    WHY TO HATE: Robbie Hummel (15.7 ppg, 6.9 rpg) is done for the year with a knee injury. Purdue has played miserably since losing him; the Minnesota blowout in the Big Ten semi-final could be a sign of things to come.

    Three-point shooting is suspect; Purdue hits just 32.6 percent from beyond the arc as a team. No regular makes better than 36.4 percent of his threes. This will be a major problem if they fall behind.

    Doesn’t fulfill all five requisites in the Portrait of a Champion (returning head coach, scored 76 ppg, 10+ margin of victory, in the tournament last year, seeded 1-4).

    THE VERDICT: I thought Purdue had a chance at the Elite Eight before the Hummel injury. Now, they’ll be lucky to win a game.

  5. Texas A&M (23-9)

    WHY TO LOVE: Donald Sloan is a very good player. The 6-3 senior guard averages 17.9 ppg and hits 35.4 percent of his threes.

    Texas A&M closed out the regular season with a great 8-2 run, with wins over Oklahoma State, Texas and Baylor (all at home).

    WHY TO HATE: The Aggies’ greatest problem is that they have only one reliable scorer. After guard Derrick Roland broke his leg, that only left Donald Sloan. That means they violate Rule No. 6 of my NCAA Tournament Credo.

    Texas A&M was just 5-5 on the road this year, but one of the victories was impressive (at Missouri).

    The Aggies don’t shoot the three well, as the team hits only 33.3 percent of its long-range shots.

    THE VERDICT: One-man teams generally don’t fare well at the Big Dance, so it’s a shame that the Aggies lost Roland for the year. They’re a long shot to make it out of the first weekend.

  6. Notre Dame (23-11)

    WHY TO LOVE: The Irish have two dynamic scorers. Senior 6-8 forward Luke Harangody (23.3 ppg, 9.7 rpg) missed five games recently, but is back in the lineup and playing well. Junior forward Tim Abromaitis (17.2 ppg, 4.9 rpg) shoots 44.9 percent from long range. They’re joined by Ben “Psycho B” Hansbrough, brother of famous ex-North Carolina center Tyler.

    All seven of Notre Dame’s top scorers are upperclassmen.

    The Irish shoot a lot of threes, but they make them (39.8%). Abromaitis (44.9), Pyscho B (41.7), Carleton Scott (37.2), Jonathan “Made Out Of” Peoples (40.0) and Tory Jackson (35.2) are all excellent from deep.

    WHY TO HATE: Two NCAA Tournament Credo violations:

    No. 3: Mike Brey’s record in the NCAA Tournament is just 5-5, and he’s been past the second round only once.

    No. 4: Notre Dame was 3-6 on the road this year, though they did beat Marquette and Georgetown outside of South Bend.

    THE VERDICT: Notre Dame is playing well right now. They could win a game, but getting out of the first weekend will be difficult.

  7. Richmond (26-8)

    WHY TO LOVE: Great guard play. Junior Kevin Anderson (17.8 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 2.7 apg) and senior David Gonzalvez (14.3 ppg, 4.2 rpg) are both terrific.

    Along with Anderson and Gonzalvez, Richmond’s five leading scorers are upperclassmen.

    The Spiders take care of the ball well and play good defense; they average only 11.4 turnovers per contest and limit opponents to 61 points per game.

    WHY TO HATE: Richmond is 7-6 on the road, but only one of those victories is impressive (Rhode Island). The other wins were against non-NCAA Tournament foes.

    This team hasn’t won an NCAA Tournament game since 1998.

    THE VERDICT: Richmond is a solid team that could make a Sweet 16 run. I’ll probably have them losing in the second round.



  8. California (23-10)

    WHY TO LOVE: Great, experienced guard play wins in the NCAA Tournament – and that’s exactly what Cal has. The Bears are led by seniors Jerome Randle (18.8 ppg, 4.5 apg) and Patrick Christopher (16.1 ppg, 5.5 rpg).

    Two other Cal players average more than 11.5 points per game: senior forwards Theo Robertson (13.4 ppg, 4.7 apg) and Jamal Boykin (11.8 ppg, 6.6 rpg).

    The Bears shoot the three at a 37.7-percent clip. Two players hit better than 40 percent from downtown: Randle (41.3) and Robertson (43.2).

    WHY TO HATE: As you may expect, Cal, a guard-oriented team, doesn’t rebound the ball very well.

    THE VERDICT: Have I mentioned that I love teams with experience, great guards and terrific shooters? Cal will be a No. 6/7 seed, and they could easily upset a No. 2/3 seed. Worst-case scenario is a second-round loss. Best-case scenario is an Elite Eight run.

  9. Louisville (20-12)

    WHY TO LOVE: The Cardinals have two very good players in sophomore forward Samaro Samuels (15.4 ppg, 7.1 rpg) and senior point guard Edger Sosa (12.8 ppg, 4.6 apg).

    Louisville has some big wins this year, including two over No. 1 seed Syracuse.

    Three of Louisville’s top six scorers are seniors. One is a junior. None are freshmen.

    WHY TO HATE: Louisville shoots only 33 percent from three as a whole. Two players Jared Swopshire (32.3%) and Preston Knowles (30.0) are poor shooters, yet take way too many attempts from beyond the arc.

    The Cardinals won at Syracuse, but that’s their only road win against an NCAA Tournament team. Louisville was just 4-7 in away games this year. That means they violate Rule No. 4 of my NCAA Tournament Credo.

    THE VERDICT: This is not one of Rick Pitino’s best teams, but it’s hard to imagine Louisville going out in the first round. A second-round exit is most likely.

  10. Saint Mary’s (26-5)

    WHY TO LOVE: Omar Sandman is awesome. OK, his last name is “Samhan,” but Sandman is a lot cooler. Sandman (20.9 ppg, 11.0 rpg) is a force down low at 6-11, 260.

    Including Sandman, three other Gaels average double digits: junior guard Mickey McConnell (13.7 ppg, 5.3 apg), freshman guard Matthew Dellavedova (12.5 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 4.5 apg) and senior forward Ben Allen (10.8 ppg, 7.6 rpg).

    McConnell is one of the best three-point shooters of all time. OK, maybe he gets a lot of open jumpers with the Sandman down low, but it’s still not an overstatement; McConnell has fired 130 three-pointers this year and has hit 67 of them. That’s a percentage of 51.5. That’s higher than his regular 51.4 field-goal percentage!

    Overall, Saint Mary’s hits 41.2 percent of its threes. In addition to McConnell, Dellavedova (41.4%), Allen (39.1) and Clint Steindl (37.5) are all terrific long-range shooters.

    Saint Mary’s was 9-2 on the road, which includes an impressive victory at Utah State.

    WHY TO HATE: I love this Saint Mary’s team… except for the fact that they have a freshman point guard. Teams with inexperienced floor-generals usually lose early in the NCAA Tournament. It’s a shame, but the Gaels violate Rule No. 1 of my NCAA Tournament Credo.

    THE VERDICT: Unless you’re talking about a once-in-a-decade point guard like Derrick Rose or John Wall, never pick a freshman floor general to go deep into the tournament. Saint Mary’s could win its opening game depending on the matchup, but they’ll have extreme difficulty escaping the first weekend.

  11. Old Dominion (26-8)

    WHY TO LOVE: Senior 6-10 forward Gerald Lee has done a great job leading his team to a 26-8 record. Lee averaged 14.6 ppg and 4.9 rpg this season.

    Old Dominion rebounds well and plays outstanding defense, limiting foes to 57.1 ppg.

    The Monarchs were a pedestrian 8-6 on the road, but one of the victories was at Georgetown.

    WHY TO HATE: Old Dominion shoots poorly from the free-throw line (64.5%). More prominently, they are just 31.6 percent from beyond the arc.

    The Monarchs violate two rules in my NCAA Tournament Credo:

    Rule No. 5: The Monarchs struggle to score, averaging just 67.5 ppg.

    Rule No. 6: Besides Lee, no Monarch averages more than nine points per contest.

    THE VERDICT: Old Dominion will be a sexy Cinderella pick, but they can’t hit threes and violate two of my rules. Unless they draw a crap team in the opening game, I’ll have them losing in the first round.



  12. Utah State (27-7)

    WHY TO LOVE: Utah State has three double-digit scorers: junior forwards Tai Wesley (13.8 ppg, 6.5 rpg) and Nate Bendall (10.3 ppg, 5.6 rpg), and senior guard Jared Quayle (12.0 ppg, 6.4 rpg).

    All six of Utah State’s top scorers are upperclassmen.

    The Aggies are terrific from beyond the arc. The team as a whole hits 42.1 percent of its long-range shots, and four players are better than 37 percent: Quayle (42.4), Pooh Williams (37.6), Tyler Newbold (42.3) and Brian Green (51.0).

    In addition to being excellent from three-point range, Utah State is great from the field (49.0%).

    The Aggies play great defense and don’t turn the ball over. They’re a solid, well-coached team.

    WHY TO HATE: Speaking of coaches, Stew Morrill’s record in the NCAA Tournament is an abysmal 1-7, which makes them a violator of Rule No. 3 of the NCAA Tournament Credo. However, it’s worth noting that this is probably the best team Morrill has ever coached. Last year, this group (with a year less of experience) lost to Marquette by only one point.

    THE VERDICT: Depending on whom they’re matched up against, Utah State has a chance to make a Sweet 16 run.

  13. Siena (27-6)

    WHY TO LOVE: Siena has four players who average more than 13 points per game: senior forward Alex Franklin (16.3 ppg, 8.0 rpg), senior swingman Edwin Ubiles (15.2 ppg, 3.7 rpg), junior forward Ryan Rossiter (13.9 ppg, 11.1 rpg) and junior guard Clarence Jackson (13.6 ppg).

    The other starter is senior point guard Ronald Moore (6.8 ppg, 7.8 apg). As you can tell, Siena has a ton of experience. In last year’s NCAA Tournament, they beat Ohio State in the first round and then gave Louisville all it could handle in Round 2.

    The Saints rebound very well and shoot a solid 45.9 percent from the field.

    WHY TO HATE: Siena doesn’t shoot too many threes, and based on their percentage (32.3), it’s easy to see why.

    The Saints don’t have a quality win all year. They’re 0-3 against teams in the NCAA Tournament (losing to Temple, Georgia Tech and Butler).

    THE VERDICT: Siena knows what it takes to win in March. They knocked off Ohio State last year, and they can definitely make another trip to Round 2 or even the Sweet 16 this year. This is a very solid team that no one should want to play.

  14. Sam Houston State (25-7)

    WHY TO LOVE: Sam Houston State has one of the highest-scoring offenses in the nation; they average a whopping 80.4 points per game. Think of them as the Golden State Warriors of college basketball.

    Three players average at least 12.5 ppg: junior forward Gillberto Clavell (16.7 ppg, 6.4 rpg), and senior guards Corey Allmond (15.8 ppg) and Ashton Mitchell (12.6 ppg, 5.0 apg).

    As you can imagine, the Bearkats shoot tons of threes and hit a good amount of them (38.1%). Amazingly, three players hit better than 40 percent from beyond the arc: Mitchell (43.1), Preston Brown (40.3) and Josten Crow (41.4). And it doesn’t stop there – Allmond (37.8) and Lance Pevehouse (35.8) can also drain it from deep.

    WHY TO HATE: The Bearkats are untested. They’ve played only one NCAA Tournament team. On the bright side, however, that game was just a 10-point loss at powerhouse Kentucky.

    Sam Houston State relies so much on the three ball. If the shot’s not falling, they’re not going to win.

    The Bearkats are small and will get killed on the glass by a dominant frontcourt.

    THE VERDICT: This team reminds me so much of the 2005 Northwestern team that knocked off Iowa. Sam Houston State is a nightmare matchup for anyone in the NCAA Tournament because of their blazing-fast tempo and dynamic three-point shooting. A slop team that has trouble scoring will have major problems with these Bearkats.

  15. Robert Morris (23-11)

    WHY TO LOVE: Robert Morris has one very good player: guard Karon Abraham, who averages 13.4 ppg and hits 44.2 percent of his threes.

    WHY TO HATE: Unfortunately, Abraham is a freshman. Abraham is the only double-digit scorer, which means Robert Morris violates Rule No. 6 of my NCAA Tournament Credo.

    The Colonials have played two NCAA Tournament teams: Syracuse and Pittsburgh. They lost those games by 40 and 24, respectively.

    Robert Morris turns the ball over a lot (14.7 turnovers per game) and struggles to hit its free throws (66.1%).

    THE VERDICT: A Robert Morris win in the NCAA Tournament would shock me.

  16. Winthrop (19-13)

    WHY TO LOVE: Winthrop rebounds the ball well and plays suffocating defense (61.4 ppg). High-scoring UNC-Asheville couldn’t get anything against them in the Big South Championship.

    WHY TO HATE: The Eagles have tons of glaring flaws:

    – They’re the worst-shooting team in the NCAA Tournament: They hit 38.3 percent of their field goals and 25.5 percent of their threes. Only one regular shoots better than 28 percent from beyond the arc (Reggie Middleton, 33.3).

    – They violate Rule No. 5 of my NCAA Tournament Credo; Winthrop simply can’t score. The team averages only 62.4 ppg.

    – They also violate Rule No. 4 of my NCAA Tournament Credo; the Eagles are just 6-11 on the road.

    – They’re inexperienced; their top two scorers (guard Reggie Middleton, 10.3 ppg; center Matt Morgan, 9.6 ppg) are both sophomores.

    – They can’t hit their free throws (64.6%).

    – They went up against one NCAA Tournament team this season (Clemson) and were debacled, 102-66.

    THE VERDICT: I don’t see how this team wins a game in the Big Dance.

  17. Arkansas-Pine Bluff (17-15)

    WHY TO LOVE: Three players average double digits: senior guard Terrance Calvin (10.6 ppg, 5.2 rpg), sophomore guard Savalance Townsend (10.4 ppg, 3.5 rpg) and senior center Lebaron Weathers (10.1 ppg, 6.8 rpg).

    WHY TO HATE: Ugh. Where do I start? The Golden Lions…

    – Violate Rule No. 5 of my NCAA Tournament Credo. Their scoring average is a meager 64.9.

    – Violate Rule No. 4 as well; they were just 6-14 on the road.

    – Turn the ball over way too much (17.1 turnovers per game).

    – Shoot poorly from the field (41.3%) and beyond the arc (30.6).

    – Struggled against NCAA Tournament teams. Pine Bluff went up against five squads in the Big Dance: UTEP (loss, 70-52), Oklahoma State (loss, 81-66), Georgia Tech (loss, 65-53), Missouri (loss, 88-70) and Kansas State (loss, 90-76).

    THE VERDICT: This is the worst team in the NCAA Tournament. If they come within single digits of their first-round opponent, they should walk away with their heads high.



2010 NCAA Tournament: South Bracket Picks


2010 NCAA Tournament: South Bracket First Round


#1 Duke over #16 Winthrop/Arkansas-Pine Bluff
For the record, I think Duke’s opponent will be Winthrop, but does it really matter?

#8 California over #9 Louisville
Everyone’s picking Louisville, but this is not a good Cardinals team. Cal, meanwhile, is very talented. They have the guard play and shooting to make a deep run.

#12 Utah State over #5 Texas A&M
My 12-5 upset. Texas A&M is a one-man squad that doesn’t shoot the three well. Teams like that often exit the NCAA Tournament early. I like Utah State’s experience and shooting.

#13 Siena over #4 Purdue
Purdue has been awful ever since losing Robbie Hummel to injury. But this is more about Siena. The Saints have won an NCAA Tournament game the past two seasons. They have great experience and know what it takes to win in the Big Dance.

#6 Notre Dame over #11 Old Dominion
Notre Dame is more talented, balanced and experienced than Old Dominion. The Monarchs are a one-man team, which is something I don’t like.

#3 Baylor over #14 Sam Houston State
Wrong matchup for Sam Houston State. The Bearkats could have beaten a low-scoring, sluggish team, but they won’t have a chance against the Bears.

#7 Richmond over #10 Saint Mary’s
I love this Saint Mary’s team… except for the fact that they have a freshman point guard. Richmond’s guard play wins out.

#2 Villanova over #15 Robert Morris
I have no idea who this Bob Morris character is, but he stands no chance against Villanova.



2010 NCAA Tournament: South Bracket Second Round


#1 Duke over #8 California
A very dangerous game for Duke. A similar team knocked the Blue Devils out of the NCAA Tournament last year (Villanova). Cal could definitely pull the upset, but I’m going with the odds here because Louisville might be playing in this contest.

#13 Siena over #12 Utah State
I really like this Siena team. Once again, they know how to win in the NCAA Tournament.

#3 Baylor over #6 Notre Dame
Notre Dame could give Baylor a game here, but the Bears’ backcourt is just so good.

#2 Villanova over #7 Richmond
Losing early in the Big East Tournament could be just what Villanova needed. I have confidence that with the time off, Jay Wright will fix whatever’s wrong with his team.



2010 NCAA Tournament: South Bracket Sweet 16


#1 Duke over #13 Siena
Again, this could easily be an upset. Duke shoots the three well, but they’re just not that physically talented. Siena won’t be scared of them. Having said that, I’m playing the odds and picking the Blue Devils. I’m not taking a No. 13 over a No. 1 in the Sweet 16 of my bracket.

#2 Villanova over #3 Baylor
Ugh. Toughest call for me – only because the winner of this game, in my opinion, will go to the Final Four. Let’s break this down:

The case for Baylor: The Bears are playing better than Villanova right now; they’ve won five of six, while the Wildcats have lost five of seven. Baylor is a bit better defensively, and they have a superior frontcourt. The Bears shoot the ball extremely well, but then again, Villanova does too. In this matchup, Baylor has the best player (LaceDarius Dunn).

The case for Villanova: The Wildcats have been here before. Scottie Reynolds has hit huge shots before. This team knows what it takes to win in March. Yes, they’ve struggled recently, but this is the same team that was beating everyone early in the year. They haven’t lost anyone to injuries or suspensions. They’re just in a funk. I don’t want to minimize this losing streak, but I don’t think we should overreact either. Also, while Baylor has been winning games, they haven’t exactly beaten any dominant teams; in fact, the Bears are 0-3 this season against teams seeded 1-4 in the NCAA Tournament. Villanova is 3-4, and two of those losses came during this dry spell. Maybe it’s not a funk; maybe the Wildcats were just losing tough games against elite foes.

I guess I talked myself into Villanova. I loved the Wildcats to get to the Final Four before this losing streak. As mentioned above, this time off is exactly what they needed. Jay Wright is a great coach and will set things straight.



2010 NCAA Tournament: South Bracket Elite Eight


#2 Villanova over #1 Duke
My fingers hurt from typing. No more about Villanova. Let’s talk about Duke. Since reaching the Final Four in 2004, Mike Krzyzewski hasn’t taken his team past the Sweet 16 despite coaching four teams that had 27-plus wins. The Wildcats knocked Duke out of the NCAA Tournament last year, and I think they can do it again.



2011 NCAA Tournament Picks:
Sweet 16 Redo | East | West | Southwest | Southeast | Final Four | Winning Tips | 2011 NCAA Tournament Home
2011 NCAA Tournament Bracket Breakdowns:
West | East | Southwest | Southeast | Final Four | Schedule
2011 NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 Breakdowns:
West | Southeast |
2011 NCAA Tournament Preview:
ACC | Atlantic 10 | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Mid-Majors | Mountain West | Pac 10 | SEC



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