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Play-In Game: 16 North Florida vs. 16 Robert Morris
As far as play-in games go, this does have a certain appeal. Playing for the right to get demolished by Duke will the Ospreys of North Florida and the Colonials of Robert Morris. North Florida is making their NCAA Tournament debut after just six seasons in Division 1. The expanded field gives them the legitimate opportunity to win their school's first tournament game in history, not an opportunity open to #16 Seeds before the field expanded
Best Round of 64 Match-Up
The most intriguing match-up in this region has to be 4-seed Georgetown going up against 13-seed Eastern Washington. In this match-up , we get to see the nation's top scorer, Eastern Washington's Tyler Harvey go against a legitimate big-conference school in Georgetown. Harvey averages 22.9 PPG, tops in Division 1, and is coming off of a Big Sky quarterfinal game where he scored 42 points against Idaho, in which he hit 8-of-12 three-point attempts. Look for him to try to shoot the lights out against the Hoyas as he looks to lead his team to an upset.
Best Possible late-round Match-Up
When I look at this region, all of the great potential match-ups feature Duke. They have one of the nation's best players in Jahlil Okafor, and one of the most efficient offenses in Division 1. The potential Sweet-Sixteen match-up between Duke and either mid-major Stephen F. Austin or Eastern Washington would make for an undoubtedly interesting game. If Stephen F. Austin were able to advance that far, it would create a match-up of two of the best offenses in College Basketball. SFA ranks 10th in scoring offense, 5th in offensive efficiency and 1st in assists per game in Division 1. Duke's offense ranks fourth is scoring and 3rd in offensive efficiency.
However, if Stephen F. Austin is unable to meet Duke in the Sweet 16, the potential Duke-Gonzaga Elite Eight showdown would also pit two high-powered offenses against each other. Gonzaga is the number one offense in the county in terms of field goal percentage and they are top-ten in scoring. Either match-up would be great for basketball fans, but both match-ups occurring would be even better.
Region's Best Player
Look no further than Duke freshman Jahlil Okafor. He is the player most-likely to be taken #1 overall in the NBA draft this June and for good reason. He's averaged 17.7 PPG, 9.0 RPG, and 1.4 Blocks per game this season. He's also remarkably efficient, shooting 67% from the field. He's also a capable defender, he averaged 1.4 block per game this season. Look for him to dominate inside against most of the opponents in this region.
South Region Winner Pick
I can't pick against Duke with the teams that are in their region. Stephen F. Austin or Eastern Washington are on my radar for possible upsets, but it probably isn't likely enough to predict the region to turn out that way. Gonzaga could present a formidable challenge as well assuming both teams make it that far, but I'm still picking Duke to reach their 16th Final Four.