Continuing our NCAA preview and its loose association with reality, we come to the South Region of the bracket, where everything is wide open or something. Your top seeds are Memphis and Texas, but don't sleep on Oral Roberts. They're due.
Get your crash helmets, Dorsey's shooting a free throw.
#1 Memphis - The Tigers are hardly admirable--there's no less respectable player in the NCAA than Joey Dorsey--but Jesus, they're good at what they do. They've won 30 games for the third straight season, becoming only the second program to accomplish that. Ever. But they are terribly flawed. For all their athleticism, they're not particularly poised, especially at the foul line. When Tennessee beat them, it wasn't much of an upset.
#16 UT-Arlington - Yes, I know Spanky put you in the Elite 8, but he was operating under the influences of random chance, Triscuits, and a powerful mixture of cough syrup and grain alcohol. You are about to play Memphis and you are about to die.
#8 Mississippi State - If you haven't heard of Jarvis Varnado, then... that's not surprising at all. Now's a good time to learn, though; he's averaging nearly five blocks a game, which is the highest since the NCAA abolished stepladders in 1978. He's not particularly gifted on offense, but 4.6 fucking blocks a game here people.
#9 Oregon - THERE'S NO D IN OREGON LOL. Okay, granted, you can say that about every team in this region except Stanford and Denducky, but holy hell, Oregon, play some defense. They're the worst of any at-large team on defense--Ken Pomeroy ranks their adjusted defensive percentage as 125th in the NCAA, which will not lend itself to a long run in the tournament, especially with Memphis lurking nearby. Did I say lurking? I meant sprinting and destroying. Anyhoo, they're just 6-9 in their last 15 games, scarcely deserved a 9 seed, and won't be away from home for very long.
I FOUND THE FOOD COURT, IT IS OVER HERE!
#5 Michigan State - Some say MSU's 5 seed is low. Disagree. They did lose eight games, often to questionable competition, and they finished 6-6 on the year. They're certainly capable of beating elite competition--see 77-72 over Texas at Auburn Hills--but that was their story last year too, and here they are still woefully inconsistent and prone to turnovers. Their RPI and Pomeroy ranks are 16 and 17, respectively, so let's not pretend there's some giant conspiracy at play. Could they make a run? Definitely. Did they earn a higher seed than a 5? Looking at the top 4 seeds in each bracket, I don't really think so. Could they lose to Temple? They fucking lost to Iowa, didn't they? Beware Michigan State. You will pick them incorrectly, no matter what you do.
#12 Temple - Temple is coached by Fran Dunphy, which I think is the name of the dead mom in Outside Providence. This is the sexiest of any of the 5-12 upset picks. George Mason isn't nearly as strong as last year, Drake's not losing to Western, and Villanova is no match for a Clemson team that's playing far above their 5 seed right now. Are we saying that's why you should pick Temple to beat Michigan State? No, but if you're of the "pick at least one 12 seed" school of thought (wise, that), Temple's your smartest pick. Plus they're going to be good at football in '08.
#4 Pittsburgh - Think about the greats that have come through this program over the years: Dan Marino, Hugh Green, Larry Fitzgerald, and Dave Wannstedt. And still, none of them did what this team accomplished in 2008: reach the NCAA tourney. There's something to be said for that.
#13 Oral Roberts - The Oral Bobs are in the tournament for the third straight season, and while they've never been rated so highly in the RPI as they are now (#53), that's more a function of ambitious non-conference scheduling than an increase in quality of play. The people of Jesus University are thankful that they've been blessed with this tourney berth after a massive scandal rocked Fellatio Bobs to the point where they needed a $70m donation just to keep their head above water. Typical Old Testament God, tries to make up for a giant catastrophe with toys. Maybe God should have made the president not embezzle a metric fuckton of money. Anyway, as far as sports go, they're getting destroyed in the first round. And Jesus wept.
This picture is worth 2 Creanbucks
#6 Marquette - Tom Crean's got a heck of a good thing going up in Milwaukee or wherever the hell Marquette is. Trouble is, I don't know a thing about the '07-'08 iteration of the Golden Eagles, so I'm going to make everything up, including the names.
Center Aaron Wilkins is fundamentally sound, if undersized, on the inside. His interests include monster trucks, oceanography, and the number 9.
Senior point guard Travis Thompson provides veteran leadership and is strong in the transition game. Against Villanova, he registered 14 points, 8 assists, and seven instances of mispronouncing "banal." It doesn't rhyme with "anal," although it should.
Shooting guard Tony Justice played an exhibition game in argyle socks and wingtips. Some speculate it was because he lost a bet to Crean!
There you have it. Sounds like an Elite 8 team to me.
#11 Kentucky - They're a sexy sleeper pick, and for good reason: they finished awfully strong after a disastrous 6-7 start. Still, the Cats are dinged up and not that good to begin with. Just don't come crying to BHGP when Kentucky gets dropped by double digits and you're scratching off that 11 seed you put in the Elite 8 just because it's a school you recognize from a decade ago. BHGP don't give a what.
The Tree, in sadder times.
#3 Stanford - Those of you who succumb to the east coast bias that comes standard with every viewing of ESPN might be quick to write off Stanford. We would definitely not recommend such a course of action. The Cardinal are efficient on offense (25th in the nation) and nasty on defense (9th). Their best two players are definitely the Lopez twins, a pair of 7-foot sophomores with surprising technique on the post. Plus come on, they're 7 feet tall. If your team doesn't have depth on the inside, good freaking luck.
#14 Cornell - Oh, the "Big Red"? Very clever. You still can't have Kige. Cornell! It's like Stanford with Nor'Easters and overpriced pot!
They were wearing Nerf cleats so this is fine.
#7 Miami - The U is in the tournament? Really? Did they actually earn this bid or did they take it at gunpoint? Are we kidding? Yeah, sorta, because the RPI says they were #34, but again, this might be the result of deals made with Ken Pomeroy in exchange for his security. Anyhoo, this is as good a time as any to revisit the 7th Floor Crew: Safe For Work post, because whenever we're feeling down, all we need to hear is Hollaman drop 30 bleeps in under 40 seconds. Try it sometime.
#10 St. Mary's - The Gaels briefly held the title of "Ranked Mid-Major You've Never Heard Of" this year before they committed the mid-major sin of losing more than four games. Still, it's not as if they weren't tested this year--they played OOC games against Drake, Oregon, Texas, Cal State-Fullerton, and Kent State this year (all tourney teams, mind you) and won three of the five games. We have no problem placing them ahead a pretty mediocre Miami squad, but if their second shot at Texas is anything like their first, St. Mary's fans will be able to beat the traffic out of Alltel Arena pretty early.
Who wants to sex Hook 'Em?
#2 Texas - Lose Kevin Durant, rise two seeds. Sounds about right. Texas is very, very good, and the fact that the regionals are in Houston must absolutely thrill John Calipari and Memphis. Final Four? Maaaaaaybe.
#15 Austin Peay - We all love a good urine joke [um.--ed.] I do, anyway. [better.--ed.] and there's no better example in the NCAA than the Governors' "Let's go Peay" chant. Sort of puts "We're #1" in a whole new light, doesn't it?