|2007 NCAA TOURNAMENT PREVIEW - SOUTH REGION
March 13, 2007
Ben, SCS.com Staff Writer
The South region features the hottest team in the country (Ohio State from the Big Ten), the best mid-major team in the nation (Memphis from C-USA), the best clutch player in the game (Acie Law IV of Texas A&M), and the best shooter in the land (Chris Lofton of Tennessee). The home court advantage in San Antonio has to go to Texas A&M, where - if they make the sweet sixteen - they will be playing in their home state. However, it will take more than loyal fans to knock off the top-seeded Buckeyes and Greg Oden.
Ohio State - As long as Oden doesn’t get into foul trouble, the Buckeyes will be tough to beat. Real tough. But if he does get into trouble - or worse, injured - and the Buckeyes' three-pointers don’t fall, they can, and will get knocked out before Atlanta.
Memphis - The Tigers are the team that all the mid-majors are rooting for. They have the best shot as a 2 seed of making the Final Four. Memphis is very deep in talent and can go to their bench for any position.
Texas A&M - Though Acie Law IV is good, he’s not five players. The Aggies feature other stars like three-point shooter Josh Carter and their big guy Joseph Jones. A&M has a great defense, and will need to keep that up if they want to reach Atlanta.
Tennessee - Any team is capable of reaching Atlanta, however not everyone is capable of beating Ohio State. But, if the Vols’ Mr. Everything Chris Lofton can light it up from behind the arc like he’s capable of doing, then Tennessee can easily beat the Buckeyes and whichever team follows.
Nevada - The Wolf Pack is led by their All-American forward Nick Fazekas. Fazekas is dangerous alone, because he can do damage from all over the floor. Nevada’s tournament schedule favors them because their first two games are against teams that they alone are capable of beating - Creighton and Memphis.
Xavier - The Musketeers are a dangerous team, simply because they have a large arsenal of weapons. They have four different players who average double figures in scoring. Drew Lavender and Stanley Burrell are capable of putting up big numbers against big teams, and they will need to do that if they want to knock off BYU and Ohio State.
Stanford - Though the Cardinal barely got into the tournament, and probably shouldn’t have, they are still a highly dangerous squad to big-name teams. They defeated Oregon, USC, UCLA, and Washington State during the regular season, and went on the road and beat a very good Virginia team. Their big man Brook Lopez is a very good center, and Stanford will need him to shine against Louisville, and possibly Texas A&M.
Most Over-Seeded Team - Virginia: Any team that loses 10 games should not be higher than a 5. Not even Duke (sorry Dicky V). Even worse, the Cavaliers lost their last two games to Wake Forest and NC State.
Runner-Up: Stanford: For a team that shouldn’t have even been in, a 12 seed would’ve been way more appropriate.
Most Under-Seeded Team - Nevada: How can a team go 14-2 in non-conference games, and then go 14-2 in conference games and get a 7 seed? By the way, the Wolf Pack’s four league losses were to Tournament teams UNLV and New Mexico State, and Utah State twice (by two points each time).
Runner-Up: Ohio State: How can you get a one seed and be underseeded you ask? It’s simple. The Buckeyes should’ve gotten the overall number one seed. They have won 17 in a row and have two less losses than Florida.
Team On a Roll - Ohio State: It’s hard to argue against the Buckeyes. Though they started out 13-3, they have won 17 in a row, and they easily cruised to a Big Ten Tournament title. Oh, and the Buckeyes three losses on the year were at North Carolina, at Florida, and at Wisconsin. By the way, in case you're wondering, those three teams are 58-1 at home this year.
Runner-Up: Louisville: The Cardinals have won 7 of their last 8, and their one loss was by 6 to a good Pittsburgh team.
Team In a Slump - Stanford: The Cardinal have lost 7 of their last 11 games, and haven’t won a road game in over a month.
Runner-Up: Virginia: The Cavs are 4-4 in their last 8 games, including losses to Miami, Wake Forest, and North Carolina State.
Best First Round Matchup - Louisville vs. Stanford: This game features a great coach in Rick Pitino trying to stop big man Brook Lopez. The home crowd favors Louisville since the game will be played in Lexington, KY. If anyone knows how the Cardinals got that arranged, please let me know.
Runner-Up: BYU vs. Xavier: A great game between two mid-majors. Winner gets Ohio State.
Best Potential Second Matchup - Texas A&M vs. Louisville: The Aggies are probably a slightly better team than the Cardinals, however playing in Kentucky gives Louisville a huge advantage.
Runner-Up: Memphis vs. Nevada: Another great game between two mid-majors, and the winner has a very legitimate shot at reaching the Final Four.
Best First Round Coaching Matchup - Tennessee’s Bruce Pearl vs. Long Beach State’s Larry Reynolds: Pearl has his Vols in the Tournament again in his second year at UT, while LBSU’s Reynolds is trying to keep his job. A win against SEC powerhouse Tennessee would certainly help.
Runner-Up: Louisville’s Rick Pitino vs. Stanford’s Trent Johnson: Two big-name coaches with impressive resumes and big wins in their coaching careers. The winner will have another big victory to add to the list.
Best Bet for a First Round Upset Xavier over BYU: Xavier has lots of players that can beat any team, and BYU can be very cold on given nights. Xavier should take this easily.
Runner-Up: Stanford over Louisville: Though I don’t think it will happen, the Cardinal are a very dangerous team, and Louisville does not need to look ahead to A&M.
Best Player You Know All About - Greg Oden, Ohio State: Watch this guy while you have the chance because I promise you he will be in the NBA next year. This guy is just too dominant down low.
Runner-Up: Acie Law IV, Texas A&M: The Aggies’ guard can do it all. His best quality trait, though, is stepping it up when the game is on the line.
Best Player You've Never Heard Of - Jamar Wilson, Albany: Wilson has scored more than 2,000 points in his career at Albany. He averages 18.5 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists per game, and can get a triple-double on any night.
Runner-Up: Keena Yound, BYU: Yound was the player of the year in the MWC, and averages 17 points and 6.5 boards per game.
Best Name - Duke Crews, Tennessee: Please, anyone with the first name of Duke? There’s no beating that.
Runner-Up: Michael Knight, Albany: There, so now we have a Duke and a Knight in the same region.
Best Reason to Watch this Region - There's a possible Sweet Sixteen matchup between Louisville and Memphis. The two rivals would be a dandy to watch, especially coaches Rick Pitino and John Calipari, two hated rivals.
Runner-Up: Can Anyone Beat Ohio State? Right now it doesn’t look like it. The best bet would have to be either Memphis or Texas A&M in the regional final.
G: Acie Law IV, Texas A&M
G: Chris Lofton, Tennessee
F: Chris Douglas-Roberts, Memphis
C: Brook Lopez, Stanford
C: Greg Oden, Ohio State
Acie Law IV is the most clutch player in college basketball. Just ask Kansas State and Kansas. Chris Lofton can make five three-pointers. In a row. From 28 feet. With a hand in his face. I’ve seen it. About twenty times. Chris Douglas-Roberts is probably the best defender in the region. He may have to prove that if Memphis plays Texas A&M in the Sweet Sixteen because Acie Law IV will have the ball in his hands. Brook Lopez is no Greg Oden, but he’s dang close. And if his Cardinal team faces Oden and Co. in the Elite Eight, then I will personally drive myself to San Antonio to see that.
This should be one of the most interesting brackets to watch. I think Ohio State wins over Xavier to reach the Sweet Sixteen, while Tennessee beats Virginia to make it too. Joining them I think will be Louisville with a win over Texas A&M and Memphis, winners over Nevada. Two great Sweet Sixteen games, one between Ohio State and Tennessee and another between Memphis and Louisville, will have the town of San Antone buzzing. In the end, I think Oden and Ohio State are just too powerful, and win against Memphis to advance to the Final Four. I also believe that the Buckeyes will do the South region proud, and win the whole thing.