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Jeff Eisenberg

South Region Preview: Villanova can beat Duke ... if it gets there

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger

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The Dagger previews the South Region of the 2010 NCAA tournament. Read our previews of the East, Midwest and West.

Three who can carry their teams:

* Jon Scheyer, G, Duke

* Scottie Reynolds, G, Villanova

* Donald Sloan, G, Texas A&M

Most intriguing first-round matchup: No. 8 California vs. No. 9 Louisville

Despite its first regular season Pac-10 title in five decades and an appearance in the conference tournament title game, Cal spent the past 24 hours hearing about how it didn't belong in the field. Well, the Bears got in and now they have a chance to show that the perception of their program and their conference has been too harsh. Louisville's two upsets of Syracuse show it can beat anyone, but a matchup with an opponent that consistently zones could favor 3-point happy Cal.

Best potential second-round game: No. 3 Baylor vs. No. 6 Notre Dame

Baylor is a legitmate threat to win this region in many people's eyes, but the free-wheeling Bears are just the type of team that could struggle with Notre Dame's newfound patience. If the Irish continue to slow the tempo and work for good shots the way they did late in the season after Luke Harangody went down, they would have a legitimate chance at the upset and perhaps an all-Big East semifinal against Villanova.

Ripe for an upset: No. 4 Purdue

Not only did the selection committee drop Purdue down to a No. 4 seed as a result of Robbie Hummel's injury, it also handed the Boilers a tough first-round draw. Siena has the offensive firepower to test Purdue's formidable defense and the experience to believe it can win, having upset Vanderbilt and Ohio State in the first round the past two seasons. Even if Purdue survives this game, a match-up with bruising Texas A&M would be a low-scoring grind-it-out second game that the Boilers might struggle to escape.

Bound for the Final Four: Duke

If Villanova is Duke's elite eight opponent, then the Devils' inability to stay in front of the Wildcats' array of guards is going to show just like it did last year in their Sweet 16 matchup. The problem for Villanova is that it's not playing well enough to win the three games it would take to get to this matchup right now. As a result, I'll make a pick I wouldn't have thought I'd make even this morning: I'll take the experienced Blue Devils thanks to the cushiest draw of any of the four No. 1 seeds.

Possible Dark Horse: No. 3 Baylor

Baylor's guards are silky smooth, its defense is vastly improved and its junior center Ekpe Udoh has emerged as one of the better big men in the nation. Does that mean the Bears are ready to make their first Final Four? Well, it's possible, but it also seems like a long shot. Baylor will benefit from a good draw and its first two games being in Houston, but it's hard to see the Bears winning four straight.

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