NCAA Tournament South Region Preview
First Round - March 19-20
Pour yourself another Guinness and get your bookie on the phone. It's time to place your bets for the NCAA Tournament. Here's a quick rundown of the lines and my insider take on each game. Let the Madness begin!
No. 1 North Carolina vs. No. 16 Radford
Spread: North Carolina -26.5
Backcourt Advantage: North Carolina
Frontcourt Advantage: North Carolina
Momentum: North Carolina
Bottom Line: The Tar Heels will roll into the second round. The only concern for them to cover is how long their starters will play. Lawson will probably play very sparingly in this one as the Coach Roy Williams will get him as much rest as he can.
Shaun's Pick: Radford +26.5
No. 8 LSU vs. No. 9 Butler
Spread: LSU -2.5
Backcourt Advantage: LSU
Frontcourt Advantage: Even
Bottom Line: Butler will give the Tigers fits and will probably even win this game. It will take a special effort from LSU senior Marcus Thornton for the Tigers to beat the Bulldogs. Butler is young, but they know the recipe for tourney success. They're patient, they play strong defense, and they shoot the three well.
Shaun's Pick: Butler +2.5
No. 5 Illinois vs. No. 12 Western Kentucky
Spread: Illinois -4.5
Backcourt Advantage: Even
Frontcourt Advantage: Illinois
Momentum: Western Kentucky
Bottom Line: The Hilltoppers will take this game to the buzzer and may even pull off this year's trendy 5-12 upset. With senior point guard Chester Frazier's injury, the inconsistent Illinois offense will sputter even more than usual. This game will be close to the end.
Shaun's Pick: Western Kentucky +4.5
No. 4 Gonzaga vs. No. 13 Akron
Backcourt Advantage: Gonzaga
Frontcourt Advantage: Gonzaga
Bottom Line: This is one of Gonzaga's strongest teams in the past few years. They play solid defense and they can knock down three's. They should cruise into the Sweet 16 where they'll run into the buzzsaw that is UNC.
Shaun's Pick: Gonzaga -12.0
No. 6 Arizona State vs. No. 11 Temple
Spread: Arizona State -4.5
Backcourt Advantage: Arizona State
Frontcourt Advantage: Arizona State
Bottom Line: Temple always makes noise in this tournament, but James Harden will prove to be too much. With Pendergraph and Kuksiks controlling the interior, Harden should have no trouble scoring against the Owls, who need someone else to step up to help Dionte Christmas on offense. Christmas will be matching Harden shot-for-shot, but Harden has the better supporting cast.
Shaun's Pick: Arizona State -4.5
No. 3 Syracuse vs. No. 14 Stephen F. Austin
Spread: Syracuse -12.0
Backcourt Advantage: Syracuse
Frontcourt Advantage: Syracuse
Bottom Line: Syracuse will be ready and rested for this one. Jonny Flynn leads a balanced scoring attack for the Orange, who will also be in their famous 2-3 zone on defense. The Orange will have no trouble advancing.
Shaun's Pick: Syracuse -12.0
No. 7 Clemson vs. No. 10 Michigan
Spread: Clemson -5.0
Backcourt Advantage: Michigan
Frontcourt Advantage: Clemson
Bottom Line: The Tigers' front line should be able to dominate the Wolverines, who will rely too much on outside shooting. Michigan has the potential to light it up from behind the arc, but only their forward Sims is shooting over 42 percent from the floor this season. Clemson is vulnerable against teams that can bully them inside, but Michigan is not that kind of team.
Shaun's Pick: Clemson -5.0
No. 2 Oklahoma vs. No. 15 Morgan State
Spread: Oklahoma -16.5
Backcourt Advantage: Oklahoma
Frontcourt Advantage: Oklahoma
Momentum: Morgan State
Bottom Line: The Sooners have a lot to prove to themselves and will come out in a blaze. Morgan State has won 13 of its last 14, but went 0-3 versus the RPI Top 50. They simply can't hang with Blake Griffin and the Sooners, who are looking to get back on track and on a roll after losing four of its last six.
Shaun's Pick: Oklahoma -16.5
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