South Regional breakdown

South Regional breakdown

South Regional breakdown
Jeff Goodman / 

Overview: Ohio State's road is clearly paved. The Buckeyes have Team Mystery, Memphis, as the No. 2 seed in the region and a No. 3 seed in Texas A&M that still hasn't proven itself as an elite team on a national stage.

Virginia had a heck of a year, but let's be honest. Dave Leitao has done a remarkable job without much up front at all. Just imagine the Cavaliers having to try and stop Greg Oden in the Sweet 16? It wouldn't be pretty.

Louisville is another team that is dangerous, but very enigmatic. The bottom-tier teams are more dangerous than some of the higher seeds — with No. 7 Nevada, No. 8 BYU, No. 9 Xavier, No. 10 Creighton and No. 11 Stanford.

Any one of those teams could reel off a couple of wins.

Best first-round matchup: No. 6 Louisville vs. No. 11 Stanford — Rick Pitino's Cardinals were one of the hottest teams in the country in the second half of the season, while the Stanford Cardinal also came on fairly strong after 7-foot freshman Brook Lopez returned from a back injury.

Best potential matchup: No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 3 Texas A&M — This one would be interesting. Acie Law IV is Mr. Clutch, but can he do it against Greg Oden and the Buckeyes? I doubt it.

Upset special: No. 2 Memphis vs. whoever it plays in the second round. The Tigers haven't played anyone other than Gonzaga since, well, I can't really remember. Take Nevada or Creighton over Coach Cal's team in the second round.

Cinderella? No. 10 Creighton — Dana Altman's team is as healthy as its been all year and they have a difficult first-round matchup against Nick Fazekas and the Wolf Pack. Altman has a trio of experienced seniors in Nate Funk, Anthony Tolliver and Nick Porter — and sophomore floor leader Josh Dotzler is finally healthy.

My pick: Ohio State — Greg Oden and the Buckeyes are playing their best basketball of the season now. Thad Matta has all the weapons necessary — especially if he can get some consistent perimeter shooting. Mike Conley Jr. is the most poised freshman to come along in a long, long time.

Story Lines:

Xavier could go up against Ohio State, which is just a couple hours away, in the second round game in Lexington.

Can the Thad Five lead the Buckeyes into the Final Four?

Did the lowly Conference USA help or hurt No. 2 Memphis going into the Big Dance?

Five Players to Watch:

Greg Oden, Ohio State
Chris Lofton, Tennessee
Brook and Robin Lopez, Stanford
Acie Law IV, Texas A&M
Nick Fazekas, Nevada

Best Player You've Never Heard of:

Ramon Sessions, Nevada

Overrated: No. 6 Louisville
Underrated: No. 10 Creighton

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