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2016 Anonymously Through The Brackets: Southern Hospitality

Sick of hard-hitting analysis of the 2015 NCAA Tournament? Up to your eyeballs in expert picks chock-full of astute takes on players to watch and budding upsets?

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

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:


I mean, come on.  It's Kansas.  They're the #1 overall seed in the entire tournament, and the current #1 team in the country on KenPom.  They're one of just two teams in the country with a top 10 offense and top 10 defense according to KenPom.  How do you not ride with the chalkiest of (rock) chalk (Jayhawk) teams in the field?

If you're one of those weirdos that hates what John Calipari is doing at Kentucky, well, then you have to love Kansas.  Right now, no one on Kansas' roster is expected to be a 1st round pick in the NBA Draft according to Draft Express.  Plus, the Jayhawks winning the whole shebang will be a nice finale to Perry Ellis' career, giving him four national championships since he started at Kansas in 1950.


I think it would be delightfully fun if Connecticut won this region from the 9 seed.  That'd be hilarious, and the gloating tweets from @NoEscalators would be amazing.

But they're not my BOLD pick to win.

Villanova is.

Let's be honest: NO ONE without ties to the Main Line is going to pick the Wildcats to win this region.  Villanova hasn't made it to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament since Scottie Reynolds hit that layup to push Nova past Pitt in the Elite Eight back in 2009.  (Aside: I essentially just wrote "Since Scottie Reynolds was in school," and boy was that weird)  Since then, the Wildcats have been a two seed three times (including this year) and a #1 seed once, including last year.  No one's blaming them for not getting to the second weekend in those years where they were a 9 seed, but those tippy top years.... hooboy.  They HAVE to punch through this year.  They HAVE to.  For the good of the program, for the good of Jay Wright's legacy as a coach, for the good of the incredibly stupid narratives about the Big East.  Nova HAS TO win this year.

Don't you want to be on their side when they do and no one else is?


There are two games that will be in Spokane and I don't know how pick between them.  Hawaii tore through the Big West this season, and earned a 13 seed and will play #4 California.  In the other half of that pod, #12 seed South Dakota State squares up with fifth seeded Maryland.

Hawaii has already been banned from next year's tournament by the NCAA, so you know that those juniors on this Rainbow Warriors squad are going to throw everything they have into smashing the Golden Bears and playing as long as they possibly can.  South Dakota State has guys that went to the tournament in 2013, and got another taste of the postseason last year when they advanced to the second round of the NIT.  They're battle tested and probably not all that afraid of the talent laden Terrapins who have been disappointing down the stretch.

Officially, I'm going with Hawaii here.  My interest in seeing Diamond Stone go deeper than, ahem, another school in this tournament outweighs my belief in the Jackrabbits.  Besides, Hawaii's got Roderick Bobbitt, who broke the school record for steals in just two seasons, and he's former high school teammates with Juan Anderson.  That's a fun reason to cheer for the Warriors.

UPDATE: I wrote all of that before Cal announced that they had fired assistant coach Yann Hufnagel after a sexual harassment investigation.  Go Hawaii.


Maryland's Melo Trimble?  I guess?  Villanova's Josh Hart?  I'm sure Paint Touches founder Mark Strotman would want me to say Arizona's Gabe York.  This is not a star studded operation here in the South.


One of the two at-large bid play-in games is tucked into this bracket.  That's my pick for hiding your eyes here.  Not because it's a game that's going to be ugly due to two teams that don't really deserve to be in the field.

No, I'm telling you to hide your eyes because Wichita State is going to hand Vanderbilt their liver.  Wichita State lost games when Fred Van Vleet was on the shelf with an injury.  They did just enough with him back in the lineup to get into the field, but just barely.  This is a team that beat Kansas and Indiana in the tournament last year.  They were a #1 seed after running the table in 2014.  You think these guys are going to be livid about barely making it in and are going to make the Commodores pay?  A Commodores team that, maybe, shouldn't actually be in the field?  If you're going to watch, make sure you put a tarp down to catch all the blood.