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South Region Preview
Arkansas-Pinebluff earned the right to get slaughtered by Duke in the first round by defeating Winthrop in the play in game. Many fans and pundits are scratching their heads at the easy route given to the #1 seed Duke Blue Devils in the South Region. They have to deal with a Villanova team in the #2 seed. While a good team, ‘Nova clearly did not deserve to be seeded that high. Hot teams in this region include Baylor, Notre Dame, Richmond, and Texas A&M. This is the most wide open region of the Big Dance.
Duke Blue Devils - Guided by Coach K, this is one of the best coached teams in the NCAA. Krzyzewski will always make sure they are in a position to win the game. Marquee wins include triumphs over Gonzaga, Clemson, Maryland, and Georgia Tech. G Jon Scheyer puts up 18.6 PPG while dishing out 5.0 APG. He is a versatile do it all type of player for this Blue Devils team. Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith are also pivotal. Singler gets 17.6 PPG while Smith puts up 17.3 PPG. These three players must play their best ball for Duke to go far in this NCAA Tournament. Brian Zoubek will also help. He adds 7.3 RPG. Road play is a glaring weakness for the Blue Devils. They lost 5 times during the regular season. All 5 of those losses came on the road. If the NCAA Tournament were being played at Cameron Indoor they would be a lock to take top honors. Unfortunately for them, that isn’t the case.
Villanova Wildcats - It’s hard to get excited about a team that has lost 5 of its last 7 games and clearly did not deserve to be seeded so high. They looked great in the first half of the year but have gradually played worse. The best wins for the Wildcats came over Maryland, Georgetown, West Virginia, and Notre Dame. In Villanova’s favor they have the services of one of the best players in the NCAA; Scottie Reynolds. The senior G is getting 18.5 PPG and a 3.3 APG. He had 25 points in the Wildcats victory over Maryland. If he can turn it on he can carry this team deep in the Tournament.
Baylor Bears - It’s strange to think that this team was playing in the NIT just one year ago. They own wins over Xavier, Texas (three times), and Texas A&M. Junior G LaceDarius Dunn is one of the most underrated players in the NCAA. He is good for a whopping 19.4 PPG. He strikes at 42.5% from three point land. He had 30 points in a win over Texas. Junior C Ekpe Udoh stands 6’ 10” and is a force in the paint. He contributes 13.9 PPG and 9.8 RPG. He dropped 25 points on Texas. G Tweety Carter is also an important component of the team. He had 25 points against Oklahoma State. Baylor has been solid all year, but seems to be getting even better. They are a prime candidate for a run to the Final Four.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish - This team looked in jeopardy of missing the Big Dance late in the year, but they finished up very strong. They ended the year with wins over Pittsburgh (twice), Georgetown, Marquette, and West Virginia. If they have anything left after a strong race to the finish line they will make big noise in the Big Dance. Senior F Luke Harangody puts up a massive 22.4 PPG while getting 9.2 RPG. ‘Gody is a big part of the team, but can’t do it all by himself. F Tim Abromaitis is good for 16.3 PPG. He strikes at 44% from three point range. That is exceptional. Pundits say the Irish did “backstrokes through lucky charms” at the end of the year. They might need to do it again to make the Final Four. We aren’t counting them out.