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March 23, 2012
One Expert's Bracket
South and Midwest Regions

by Drew Cannon

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South Regional
All games played at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta

(10) Xavier vs. (3) Baylor (Friday, 7:15 on CBS)
First instinct: Baylor
The numbers like: Baylor (KP - 71%, Silver - 67%, BPI - Baylor 12, Xavier 53)
Thought process: In their last five outings, the Musketeers have played close games five times, and none of their opponents has been as good as Baylor. The Bears' athletes are just too much for Xavier to handle. Baylor's looked more "good" than "Elite Eight material" so far this tournament, but their draw has been kind (three double-digit seeds), and, as long as Tu Holloway and Mark Lyons don't go off simultaneously, Scott Drew's team is about to end up as Elite Eight material anyway.
Final pick: Baylor

(4) Indiana vs. (1) Kentucky (Friday, 9:45 on CBS)
First instinct: Kentucky
The numbers like: Kentucky (KP - 70%, Silver - 80%, BPI - Kentucky 1, Indiana 14)
Thought process: Why won't this game be like the one at Assembly Hall back in December? First of all, two key Wildcats, Terrence Jones and Marquis Teague, are playing overwhelmingly better basketball than they were back then, though Teague did have a nice game against the Hoosiers. Indiana, who doesn't force too many turnovers, collected a higher rate of them against Kentucky than all but two teams have since, including three from Teague and six from Jones. A 9-for-15 three-point shooting day from the Hoosiers will also be tough to replicate. Indiana's plenty good, but, if they win, it should certainly be again considered a serious upset.
Final pick: Kentucky

Midwest Regional
All games played at the Edward Jones Dome in Saint Louis

(13) Ohio vs. (1) North Carolina (Friday, 7:47 on TBS)
First instinct: North Carolina
The numbers like: North Carolina (KP - 83%, Silver - 87%, BPI - North Carolina 5, Ohio 74)
Thought process: So Kendall Marshall likely won't be playing. It's entirely possible that point guard duties are taken over by Stilman White or even Reggie Bullock, but let me just say that I saw Harrison Barnes play point guard at Chris Paul's camp a few years back, and it was impressive. The man has just 35 assists this season, but his and Marshall's roles have dictated that as much as his passing ability. Given the chance, I think Barnes could play a passable point guard for a lineup that went Barnes-Bullock-McAdoo-Henson-Zeller that incidentally would be totally undefendable. D.J. Cooper, for instance, would be giving up eight inches on anybody on the floor. Whatever happens, it's worth remembering that Marshall will be lost on both ends of the floor, and Carolina's very good defense will likely be just fine. The Heels are more vulnerable, certainly, but a 12- or 13-seed has never beaten a 1 before, and Ohio doesn't seem like the team to change that.
Final pick: North Carolina

(11) NC State vs. (2) Kansas (Friday, 10:17 on TBS)
First instinct: Kansas
The numbers like: Kansas (KP - 79%, Silver - 82%, BPI - Kansas 6, NC State 45)
Thought process: NC State is not a team with the talent of a traditional 11-seed, and they can absolutely beat Kansas on the right day. I just wouldn't count on that day being Friday. The Wolfpack beat Georgetown on a foundation of fantastic offensive rebounding -- that's not likely to repeat with Thomas Robinson in the building -- and an uncharacteristically high number of trips to the free throw line. Barring some early foul trouble for Robinson, NC State's strong tournament run will end here.
Final pick: Kansas

Drew Cannon is a college student and a regular contributor to Basketball Prospectus. Click here to see Drew's other articles. Follow him on Twitter at @DrewCannon1.

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Drew Cannon is an author of Basketball Prospectus. You can contact Drew by clicking here or click here to see Drew's other articles.

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