NCAA Tournament South Region First Round: Place Your Bets

Shaun HartCorrespondent IMarch 18, 2009

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

Momentum: 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

Spread: -12.0

Backcourt Advantage: Gonzaga

Frontcourt Advantage: Gonzaga

Momentum: 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

Momentum: Even

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

Momentum: 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

Momentum: Michigan

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


Shaun's Midwest Region First Round Preview

Shaun's West Region First Round Preview

Shaun's East Region First Round Preview

Get all of your College Basketball picks against the spread at


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