After our cheap, quick-hit, easy looks at each bracket, the gang at Storming The Floor take considerably closer looks, game-by-game. Here's the South Regional preview, with the Midwest coming later today.
#1 Memphis vs. #16 Texas-Arlington.
• UTA Mavericks are making their first trip to the NCAA tournament.
• Mavs got here by playing schools named Schriener, Hardin Simmons, and Texas-Permian Basin.
• Memphis has gone 8-1 against other teams who made the Dance.
The Pick: Memphis
#2 Texas vs. #15 Austin Peay.
• Longhorns have beaten top-seeded tourney teams Tennessee, UCLA, and Kansas this season.
• One of the teams they lost to, Michigan State, is in this bracket. WEVENGE!!!
• Peay is loaded with upperclassmen, and led by wily coach Dave Loos (18 years at AP). The Govs ran up 82 points against bracket-mate Memphis this season, but yielded 104 on the other end.
The Pick: Texas
#3 Stanford vs. #14 Cornell.
• Cornell drew the first NCAA bid this season by going 14-0 in the Ivy League.
• The Big Red have their own giant in seven-foot St. Bonaventure transfer Jeff Foote, but they drew a school that puts both 7' Lopez brothers on the floor at the same time.
• Neither team scores in bunches, so this could be like watching a Teddy Bear climb a Tree for forty minutes.
The Pick: Stanford.
#4 Pittsburgh vs. #13 Oral Roberts.
• Pitt began the season on an eleven-game winning streak. If they can finish it the same way (five and counting as of today), they'll have a snazzy new trophy for their case.
• The Panthers tore through three ranked and higher-seeded teams to take the Big East tournament auto-bid.
• Oral Roberts hasn't fared too well against power-conference teams this season, losing to tournament-bound Texas A&M, Arkansas, and Texas in the early season.
The Pick: Pitt.
#5 Michigan State vs. #12 Temple.
• The Spartans are an enigma this season. They scored just 36 points at Iowa in January, then hung 103 on Indiana in March. Lord knows which team shows up.
• Everybody knows Drew Neitzel, but sophomore Raymar Morgan is Michigan State's most prolific scorer (14 ppg) and rebounder (6.3 rpg).
• It's Christmas time in Philly, as local hero Dionte Christmas has racked up a 20-point-plus scoring average this year and can bomb from deep. But the gifts are also coming from another local, Mark Tyndale, who dishes out 4.2 assists per game.
The Pick: Temple
#6 Marquette vs. #11 Kentucky.
• Freshman sensation Patrick Patterson was averaging over 35 minutes per game for the Wildcats before suffering a stress fracture that has shelved him for the postseason.
• Marquette's tallest player is Ousmane Barro, a 6'10" Senegalese who averages 5 points per game, just over one block per game, and has five fouls to give.
• Kentucky head coach Billy Gillispie hasn't had to remove a flaming bag of dog poop from his front porch since February's blowout loss to Vanderbilt. So that's nice.
The Pick: Marquette
#7 Miami vs. #10 St. Mary's.
• Hurricane fans are really hoping we won't have to see that (FL) thing any more, since Miami (OH) didn't make it to the tournament.
• Aussie Patrick Mills gets all the press, but St. Mary's is loaded, with Diamon Simpson scoring (13 ppg) and rebounding (9 rpg), Omar Samhan clogging the lane, and Todd Golden playing the role of annoying white jump-shooter.
• Picked to finish last in the ACC this year, Miami instead knocked off tournament teams Duke and Clemson en route to a 22-win season.
The Pick: St. Mary's
#8 Mississippi State vs. #9 Oregon.
• Why I'm Warming Up to Oregon: I have my reasons.
• Tyler Hansbrough's younger brother Ben plays for the Bulldogs. Isn't that cute?
• Mississippi State's tenacious rebounding is, well, Bulldog-esque. Jamont Gordon, Charles Rhodes, and Jarvis Varnado have each notched double-figure rebounding games this season.
The Pick: Mississippi State
Round of 32: Memphis gets past the Bulldogs. Temple succumbs to Pitt. Stanford dominates inside to get past Marquette. Texas handles St. Mary's.
Sweet 16: Pitt continues to surprise by taking down Memphis. Texas ekes out enough offense against Stanford's elite D to move on.
Regional Final: Texas vs. Pitt, with the Longhorns heading to the Final Four, where they party like it's 2003.
Regional MOP: D.J. Augustin.