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NCAA Bracket Predictions: South Region

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MARCH 16: Head coach Jay Wright of the Villanova Wildcats directs his players in the second half against the Seton Hall Pirates during the Big East Championship Game at Madison Square Garden on March 16, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

The NCAA men’s basketball tournament is perhaps the most thrilling, excruciating time on the sports calendar. It’s certainly the time college basketball is its most relevant nationally, and it brings out the expert in everyone as brackets everywhere are filled in and submitted with varying levels of confidence.

I watch maybe 12 minutes of college basketball per year, and convince myself come bracket time that I’ve got this thing nailed. I never do.

So what we’re going to do is pick games and then give some (likely wrong) rationale for each one. Sometimes there’s a real reason for the pick. Other times there’s not. We don’t recommend filling out a bracket based on these selections, but feel free to do so if you need someone to blame.

Check out the East predictions here. The West can be found here. Up next is the South.

Round 1

No. 1 Virginia vs. No. 16 Gardner-Webb

There’s no way Virginia falls to a 16 two consecutive years, right?


Pick: Virginia

No. 8 Ole Miss vs. No. 9 Oklahoma


Pick: Oklahoma

No. 5 Wisconsin vs. No. 12 Oregon

Oregon is on an eight-game winning streak. Hot teams in March are scary.

Pick: Oregon

No. 4 Kansas State vs. No. 13 UC Irvine

Way too many people are picking UCI to upset the Wildcats. That is not a great sign.

Pick: Kansas State

No. 6 Villanova vs. No. 11 St. Mary’s

An upset of Gonzaga in the WCC tournament ensured the Gaels went dancing. It’s hard to count out the defending champs in the first round.

Pick: Villanova

No. 3 Purdue vs. No. 14 Old Dominion

Is Robbie Hummel still at Purdue?

Pick: Purdue

No. 7 Cincinnati vs. No. 10 Iowa

Cincinnati is the team I lean on every year to make too deep of a run. It never works. Let’s try something different!

Pick: Iowa

No. 2 Tennessee vs. No. 15 Colgate

There’s another bracket rule. It’s ‘never trust Rick Barnes.’ We’ll reluctantly trust him here.

Pick: Tennessee

Round 2

No. 1 Virginia vs. No. 9 Oklahoma

We’ll trust Virginia isn’t going to get bounced in the second round the year after losing to a 16 seed.

Pick: Virginia

No. 4 Kansas State vs. No. 12 Oregon

Picking K-State means more chalk, but we didn’t feel great about the Oregon pick to begin with. This is how logic works.

Pick: Kansas State

No. 3 Purdue vs. No. 6 Villanova

Jay Wright is going to have his team ready to pull off an early upset.

Pick: Villanova

No. 2 Tennessee vs. No. 10 Iowa

Never trust Rick Barnes.

Pick: Iowa

Sweet 16

No. 1 Virginia vs. No. 4 Kansas State

The Virginia redemption tour continues!

Pick: Virginia

No. 6 Villanova vs. No. 10 Iowa

Perhaps it’s that I’ve gotten so used to seeing Villanova play late into tournaments, but a deep run just feels right.

Pick: Villanova

Elite 8

No. 1 Virginia vs. No. 6 Villanova

This would be a really fun game. Virginia trying to redeem itself after an epic first-round exit, against the defending champs trying to regain form after a rough regular season. The top seed prevails.

Pick: Virginia