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NCAA Tournament Predictions 2012: Kentucky, Baylor Your South Region Picks

We know the Kentucky Wildcats are favored to reach the Final Four, finally giving John Calipari his first-ever trip to the illustrious round*. As for the other side of the South Region, who do you like? The Duke Blue Devils or Baylor Bears? Baylor could be a brutal matchup for Duke, and a lot of bracket people are seeing it the same way.

* ;)

Our own bracket expert, Chris Dobbertean, has already got it all figured out and will probably see his operation fall apart when New Mexico State wins or something. From his breakdown of the entire NCAA Tournament bracket (let's also note super smart guy Bill Connelly picks Kentucky over Baylor as well, while Andrew Sharp, our most gambling-minded individual, takes UNC over UK):

Round of 64
1 Kentucky over 16 Mississippi Valley State
8 Iowa State over 9 Connecticut
5 Wichita State over 12 VCU
4 Indiana over 13 New Mexico State
6 UNLV over 11 Colorado
3 Baylor over 14 South Dakota State
10 Xavier over 7 Notre Dame
2 Duke over 15 Lehigh

Games That Could Go Either Way (Other Than The 8 vs. 9): VCU-Wichita State, though I think the Shockers are a bit more complete, particularly inside; UNLV-Colorado, as the Buffaloes may be peaking at the right time; and Xavier-Notre Dame, simply because I waited for days on end to pick against the both of them and now cannot.

Round of 32
1 Kentucky over 8 Iowa State
5 Wichita State over 4 Indiana
3 Baylor over 6 UNLV
2 Duke over 10 Xavier

Upset Explanation: While I don't think the Hoosiers will miss Verdell Jones III much against New Mexico State, his absence will create problems against a talented Wichita State squad.

Sweet Sixteen
1 Kentucky over 5 Wichita State
3 Baylor over 2 Duke

A Word Of Caution: Given Baylor's inconsistency, they are a worthy pick to go out before they get the opportunity to meet a Duke team they might just beat this time around.

Elite Eight
1 Kentucky over 3 Baylor

Final Analysis: This region sets up quite well for Kentucky, though the Bears could give them a serious game here, if they get their collective heads straight, like they did against Kansas in the Big 12 semifinal. That's a big "if," however.

For more on the 2012 NCAA Tournament bracket, stay with SB Nation's Selection Sunday StoryStream, and stick around SB Nation's NCAA Tournament hub for a complete printable NCAA Tournament bracket and tons of analysis on who was snubbed, who got the best bracket, and who will make it all the way to New Orleans and the Final Four.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.