Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Big Easy: Southeast Region

Daily Onions gets a double word score for today's title, since the Southeast Regional final will be held in New Orleans, and it seems to be the simplest road to the Final Four for the top seeds. Here's our in-depth analysis of this region, with who we think will be headed to Houston in two and half weeks. 

Toughest First Round Match up: #8 Butler vs. #9 Old Dominion. If these two teams were playing anyone else, I'd bet that most people would have them both advancing. A battle of two of the best mid-majors in the country, Butler struggled for most of the season but put things together down the stretch and ended up winning the Horizon League. Old Dominion has won 14 of their last 15 games, and has stacked up SIX wins against this year's tournament field. As much as we hate to say it, Daily Onions is leaning ODU here.

Most Historical Matchup: #7 UCLA vs. #10 Michigan State. We've discussed Michigan State's problems all year long. It is March though, do you pick against them? Regardless of who wins this game, we think they'll be sent home by #2 Florida in Round 2. If it ends up being Florida and Michigan State, it will be a rematch of the 2000 Finals, in which the Spartans won.

Upset Special x 3: #11 Gonzaga (vs. #6 St. John's), #12 Utah State (vs. #5 Kansas State) and #13 Belmont (vs. #4 Wisconsin) are all higher seeds that could be trendy upset picks in this bracket. St. John's will be short-handed after losing DJ Kennedy in the Big East tournament, while Gonzaga is tournament tough, making their 87th straight Big Dance (13th, actually). Utah State has been ranked in the top 25 this year, won 30 games and has an RPI of 15. When they were announced as a 12 seed, they did not look happy about that. Might be leaning that way, instead of going with a hot and cold K-State team. We think Wisconsin, who is coming off a loss to Penn State in which they scored 33 points, will bounce back and take care of Belmont. Bo Ryan isn't ready to vacation in South Jersey just yet.

What Happens? We are going to go with Pittsburgh meeting Florida (who will end Jimmer Mania in the Sweet 16) in the Regional Final. Yes, we know that's very chalk-y, but get used to it. Game being played in New Orleans, Florida has the advantage and Pitt goes home w/o a trip to the Final Four once again.

Now that you've seen our picks for region, show us YOUR onions. Send us an email (jrsacks22@gmail.com) with your Elite 8, Final 4 and Championship game (winner) picks, or post them in the comments section!

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