A look at the South Region, where Duke is the top seed and Gonzaga is seeded second.

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First glance

Still regarded as an outsider in some college basketball circles, Gonzaga will get to measure itself against some of the most storied programs in the sport in the South Region.

Top-seeded Duke has won four national titles, No. 4 Georgetown has one and No. 11 UCLA is merely the most successful program in collegiate history.

The rest of the bracket is full of high-upside teams that could either make deep runs or flame out early – looking at you, Iowa State.

And the winner is …

GONZAGA: Because it has to happen eventually. The Zags survive an NDSU scare, outgun Davidson, down the Cyclones in a classic and upset Duke en route to the school’s first-ever Final Four.

A possible Gonzaga-Davidson round-of-32 matchup at KeyArena could provide an antidote for the 43-39 slugfests that have bogged down college basketball. The Wildcats (79.9 points per game) and Bulldogs (79.1) are both in the top 10 in the nation in scoring average.

By the numbers

NCAA Men's Tournament

.524 Gonzaga’s team field goal percentage, best in Division I.

11 Duke players that have been named national players of the year. Freshman Jahlil Okafor is one of 10 semifinalists for this year’s award.

29 Wins for Stephen F. Austin. Only Kentucky, Gonzaga, Villanova Arizona, Wisconsin and Northern Iowa have more.


DUKE: Okafor is the consensus No. 1 pick in the upcoming NBA draft and is the primary reason why the Blue Devils might be the single-biggest threat to topple unbeaten Kentucky. The 6-foot-11 freshman is averaging 17.7 points, 9.0 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game. A 10-point upset loss to Notre Dame in the ACC semifinals is a potential warning sign.

GONZAGA: Yeah, yeah, we know you’ve heard it before – but this really might be Gonzaga’s best-ever chance to reach its first Final Four. The Bulldogs are stocked with upperclassmen and balanced, with four players averaging in double figures. The question mark? The WCC has given the Zags few real tests.


IOWA STATE: If you’re looking for the team most likely to stun the top seeds en route to Indianapolis, look no further than the Cyclones. They’re battle-hardened from the Big 12 gauntlet and have a star, Georges Niang, that adds bite to Iowa State’s usual bark.

DAVIDSON: The Fightin’ Steph Currys are back with a vengeance. Veteran coach Bob McKillop has created another offensive juggernaut, a ball-moving, three-point shooting machine that topped 100 points three times this season and 90 five more. The Wildcats enter the NCAAs as a 10 seed.

Headed for a fall

GEORGETOWN: Beginning with an upset loss to Ohio in 2010, the Hoyas have lost in the first round in three of their last four tournament trips and haven’t reached the second weekend since 2007. The No. 4 seed has again drawn a feisty low seed in Eastern Washington – and has to travel to Portland, where the Eagles are likely to have at least something of a partisan crowd.

Star power

Okafor is undoubtedly the biggest, a dominant two-way player who will most likely be gracing the NBA next season. Niang of Iowa State is a game-changer, a one-man momentum shift who has the Cyclones dreaming big this March.

Cagiest coach

McKillop. While most mid-major programs fade into the background following the loss of a star like Curry, the veteran has remade the Wildcats in a more balanced image.

Best players you might not have heard of

Tyler Harvey, Eastern Washington: Obscured beneath the team’s glamour programs lurks the leading scorer in the nation at 22.9 points per game.

Nic Moore, Southern Methodist: The Mustangs have flown under the radar for most of the year in the American Athletic Conference. But thanks to their reliable junior guard (14.3 ppg, 5.3 assists per game), SMU is the personification of a six seed that could surprise.

Thomas Walkup, Stephen F. Austin: The Lumberjacks’ No. 0 does a little bit of everything. He averages 15.7 points, 6.4 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game for an SFA team that earned a respectable 12 seed out of the Southland.