2014 NCAA Tournament predictions: West Regional bracket breakdown

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Warning: I will not be responsible if you copy this bracket and are out of your NCAA Tournament pool by Sunday.  However, if you do listen to my college basketball wisdom and win some money, I want 20% of the pot or at least a shout-out on your twitter or facebook page.

Arizona had locked down the top seed in the West Regional a long time ago and will represent the west coast. Wisconsin and Creighton are a pair of offensively charged teams who possess the firepower to make it to the Final Four. Here is a West Regional preview and my NCAA Tournament predictions.

Bracket Overview:
Arizona is on the top line and it is both surprising and impressive as to how well they have played with Brandon Ashley. A potential second round game versus Oklahoma State is a brutal draw though. Wisconsin and Creighton are two fundamentally sound offensive teams who typically have five guys on the floor capable of scoring from all over. Outside of those three teams, this is pretty weak bracket since I don’t think the 4-6 seeds; San Diego State, Oklahoma, or Baylor have what it takes to put together a run.

Most Intriguing First Round Game: #7 Oregon vs. #10 BYU
This game features the third highest scoring (BYU) and 11th highest scoring teams in Division One basketball. Neither puts forth a formidable defensive effort. First to 100 wins?

Opening Round Upset: #12 North Dakota State over #5 Oklahoma
Lon Kruger deserves a ton of credit for leading the Sooners to a five seed but I’m still just not sold on OU. The Bison are an extremely efficient offensive team having led the nation by shooting 51% from the field. I like North Dakota State to not only pull off the 5/12 upset but also knock off San Diego State in the second round.

Sleeper: #9 Oklahoma State
Talk about a dangerous eight seed. OK State underachieved this season but still has Marcus Smart and a very talented surrounding cast. Smart is capable of putting his team on his back and willing his team to victory but a first weekend path of Gonzaga and Arizona is rough. I’m not picking them to get past Zona but if they do, the Cowboys could be a Cinderella squad.

5 Players to Watch:
Doug McDermott, Creighton
Dougie McBuckets will go down as one of the best players in college basketball history. He is such an offensive threat and when the Bluejays are bombing from deep, they can beat anyone. I like Creighton to make a Final Four run and McDermott will be the catalyst.

Nick Johnson and Aaron Gordon, Arizona
Zona is such a ferocious defensive team with Johnson and Gordon playing a huge part in that effort. Both guys can lock down opposing players and guard multiple positions. Their athleticism at the rim offensively results in spectacular plays at the rim but the Wildcats will need both guys to knock down some outside shots if they are going to make it to the Final Four.

Terran Petteway, Nebraska
The Texas Tech transfer has been a vital piece to the Huskers’ surprise trip to the NCAA Tournament. He can score in multiple ways and must be the driving force for Nebraska if they are going to advance past Baylor.

Elfrid Payton, LA-Lafayette
One of the more under the radar players from a national standpoint, Payton could be a first round pick in the NBA Draft if he declares after this season. The Ragin’ Cajuns point guard defines versatility as he averaged 19.1 points, 6 boards, and assists per game.

Opening Round Picks:
Arizona over Weber State
Oklahoma State over Gonzaga
North Dakota State over Oklahoma
San Diego State over New Mexico State
Baylor over Nebraska
Creighton over LA-Lafayette
Oregon over BYU
Wisconsin over American

Second Round:
Arizona over Oklahoma State
North Dakota State over San Diego State
Creighton over Baylor
Wisconsin over Oregon

Sweet 16:
Arizona over North Dakota State
Creighton over Wisconsin

Elite 8:
Creighton over Arizona

David Kay is a senior feature NBA DraftNBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank.  He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities.  David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu to Milwaukee.  He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft and the most accurate 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the internet , AND the second most accurate 2013 NBA Mock Draft. (Yup, nearly 3peat champ… #humblebrag.)

You can follow him on Twitter at David_Kmiecik.

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