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Fortune Teller: South Regional Brackets

We preview the upcoming NCAA tournament by taking a look at each of the regional brackets. Next up: the South regional. For a good laugh, take a look at our South Regional preview from a year ago.

Best First-Round Matchup

Brian: For me, it is a toss up between the 8 v. 9 matchup (LSU vs. Butler) and the 7 v. 10 matchup (Clemson vs. Michigan). Louisiana State has something to prove after losing 3 of their last 4 games to particularly 'meh' SEC opponents. Butler started the season 22-2 and has been ranked for most of the season, but finished the season 4-3, including WTF losses to Loyola Chicago, Wisconsin Milwaukee and Cleveland St. in the Horizon league tournament. The way I see it, that game is a toss up.

Clemson vs. Michigan is another intriguing matchup - yet another chapter in the ACC vs. Big Ten Challenge. Clemson was ranked in the Top 10 for a good portion of the season but slid all the way to a 7 seed after going 4-6 in their last ten and losing to ACC teams they should have absolutely buried - Virginia, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech. Michigan is one of 25 so-so Big Ten teams to make the tournament this year. They have some impressive victories including wins over UCLA, Duke, Purdue and Illinois, but the Wolverines also didn't finish very strong down the stretch ... 5-5 in their last 10 and a stretch of 7 losses in 9 games from January 14-February 10.

Jeff: Illinois vs. Western Kentucky is the best first round game in this region. Illinois's ranking and seeding seems to solely be a result of beating Missouri before conference play began and having a good recent history of basketball success. Meanwhile, Western Kentucky is looking to make another run in the NCAA.

Matchup We'd Most Like To See

Jeff: I'd like to see regular season ACC Champ North Carolina play SEC regular season Champ LSU in the second round and I'd love for the Heels to win by 30+.

Brian: Not many great, great potential matchups in this bracket for me. If I have to choose, I'd like to see North Carolina play Gonzaga in the Sweet 16. This is one of the best Gonzaga teams in the Dance in a long time. The Zags only have 5 losses this season - all to tournament teams - and have quality wins over Washington St., Tennessee, Tennessee, Oklahoma St., and Maryland (and oh, by the way, also pushed Connecticut to overtime). Despite Lawson still being questionable for the Heels opening round matchup, a lot of people are still picking North Carolina to win it all.

Trendy Bandwagon Pick

Brian: Syracuse. Everyone is high from sniffing Syracuse all week and the tournament selection committee is no exception. The Orange rode their success in the Big East tournament all the way to a No. 3 seed. No way they lose their first round matchup (the BCI kiss of death was just given to Syracuse), but after that, will they have any gas left in the tank to beat the Arizona State/Temple winner in the Round of 32?

Jeff: You are absolutely right, Brian. It is Syracuse.

The Sleeper Pick

Jeff: Western Kentucky. Are you surprised that is my pick?

Brian: Nope, not surprised in your WKU pick, but think it might be a year too late. Personally don't see many first round upsets in this bracket. I am liking Arizona State to get through the first weekend, so I'll go with the Sun Devils in this category. This would be a serious kick in the nuts for the NC State Wolfpack nation seeing Herb Sendek get his team back to the Sweet 16. I just don't think Syracuse has anything left in the tank.

Da Belle O' Da Ball

Brian: Blake Griffin, the presumptive National Player of the Year.

Jeff: I have not had the opportunity to watch much Big 12 basketball this season for whatever reason so I am looking forward to watching Griffin play.

Random Fact about the Regional that will do you no good while selecting your bracket:

Morgan State University is the fastest growing university in the state of Maryland. (Full disclosure: had no idea Morgan State was located in Maryland). Morgan State is making their first ever NCAA tournament appearance after winning the MEAC tournament title for the first time since 1977.

Jeff's Picks
Second Round: North Carolina, Butler, W Kentucky, Gonzaga, Arizona St, Syracuse, Clemson, Oklahoma
Sweet 16: North Carolina, Western Kentucky, Syracuse, Oklahoma
Elite 8: North Carolina, Oklahoma
Final Four Pick: North Carolina

Brian's Picks
Second Round: North Carolina, LSU, Illinois, Gonzaga, Arizona St., Syracuse, Clemson, Oklahoma
Sweet 16: North Carolina, Gonzaga, Arizona St., Oklahoma
Elite 8: Gonzaga, Arizona St.
Final Four Pick: Gonzaga