Anonymously Through the Brackets: Rubie's Spicy Tour of the South Region

Al Messerschmidt

Sick of hard-hitting analysis of the 2013 NCAA Tournament? Up to your eyeballs in expert picks chock-full of astute takes on players to watch and budding upsets?

Fear not, friends: your pals at Anonymous Eagle are here to inject some half-baked, homespun "insight" into the proceedings, with our annual region-by-region tour, as we go Anonymously Through the Brackets.

For each region, we'll give you our patented Anonymous Eagle Half-Arsed Analysis with: a gutless pick to win the region; a sleeper regional champ; a CRUSH YOUR MAN upset special; a player we'd pay to watch; and something you're not going to want to see.

Without further ado:

RUBIE Q's SPICY TOUR OF THE SOUTH, NOW WITH MORE GATOR

GUTLESS WONDER Pick To Win The Region: There were three occasions this season where I wrote off Marquette's chances of victory before the opening tip: the bloodbath at Louisville; the game at Georgetown, when I saw that the officiating crew was led by Karl Hess; and the November demolition at the hands of the Florida Gators. I know they're not very good in close games, and I know they're prone to curious and vexing lapses in concentration (see: loss at Arkansas, loss at Tennessee, loss to Ole Miss in the SEC Championship Game), but Florida is the No. 1 ranked team in KenPom for a reason, people. When they're right, they're the closest thing to a juggernaut in this tournament. (Louisville is a close second, but can't match Florida's offense.) Plus, they've got a relative cakewalk to the Elite Eight -- vs. Northwestern State, vs. whoever emerges from the UCLA-Minnesota mud wrestling match, and then vs. whoever upsets Georgetown in the Round of 32. (Sorry, Hoyas.)

Chex Bold Party Mix BOLD PICK To Win The Region: Work with me here: VCU's going to obliterate Akron, and then gets Michigan (in all likelihood), which hasn't seen a press like VCU's havoc defense in the B1G and, as Jay Bilas put it last week, couldn't guard a bank with a machine gun. The Rams would meet Kansas in the Sweet 16 if the seeds hold, but do you really trust the Jayhawks, a team that historically craters when big things are expected of them? I don't, which is why I think VCU gets past North Carolina to face Florida in the Elite Eight, and that's the game where the Gators close-game woes finally bite them in the ass. It doesn't sound totally nuts, does it?

CRUSH YOUR MAN Reverse Upset Special: You are going to be very tempted to pick Minnesota over UCLA in the 6-11 game. You are going to look at the Gophs' numbers on rebounding (No. 1 in offensive rebounding percentage) and defense (No. 26 defending two-point shots) and you're going to think: "UCLA is too soft. Minnesota is going to manhandle them." You're going to be intrigued by the possibility of Rodney Williams and Trevor Mbakwe playing ping-pong off the backboards while the Bruins camp out at midcourt waiting for an outlet pass that's never going to come. As a casual Gopher fan, I am going to insist you resist these urges. Minnesota is 5-11(!) in its last 16 games for a reason. The Gophs are not to be trusted.

Player I Have Paid To Watch: Otto Porter, Georgetown. For my money, the Hoyas' palindrome of efficiency is the national player of the year. He's Scottie Pippen in blue and gray, and you'd be well advised to take advantage of the chance to watch him in the Dance, because he'll be suiting up for the Bobcats or Pelicans or SonicKings or something next season.

Hide Your Eyes When: Florida takes apart UCLA in the Round of 32. I've got a feeling it's going to be a hungry-lion-on-a-three-legged-gazelle type of carnage. And if you're a Marquette fan, you'll want to close your eyes (and ears) when the inevitable "Buzz to UCLA" rumors start after Ben Howland gets sacked.

Be sure to sign up for the AE Bracket Challenge! Free to enter and Marquette swag will go to the winner!

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