By: David K.
West Regional Bracket Breakdown
In the up-coming days leading up to the NCAA Tournament, I will breaking down each of four Regionals. Yes, I have watched 242 college basketball games this year and have a pretty good understanding of the teams. As a disclaimer, I will not be held responsible if you copy my picks and they are wrong. So don’t yell at me if you take my advice and it backfires on you…
Overview: Outside of the obvious, Marquette being in the West, this Regional does not excite me very much. UConn was awarded the number one seed instead of Memphis, and it’s possible the two teams will meet in the Elite Eight if the bracket plays out as expected. Outside of the Huskies and Tigers, I can only see one other team realistically making it to the Final Four.
My Elite Eight Prediction: (5) Purdue beats (2) Memphis
I was high on the Boilermakers to start the season, picking them as one of my Elite Eight teams, and I am sticking to my guns. They have been inconsistent this season due to injuries to starters Robbie Hummel and Chris Kramer, but showed their potential now that they are healthy by taking the Big Ten Tournament title. I think they have what it takes on both ends to knock off a UConn that I am just not very high on come tourney time. Memphis has won 22 games in a row fueled by their overwhelming defensive effort. The Tigers have a pretty easy path into the Elite Eight.
Sleeper: (6) Marquette
Purdue’s my real sleeper, but since I have already talked about them, I’ll throw out my thoughts about Marquette. I am glad the Selection Committee did not punish them for losing five of their last six games; with those losses coming to Louisville, Pitt, and UConn (all #1 seeds), and Syracuse and Villanova (both #3 seeds.) MU was in each one of those games and has a fairly favorable second round match-up against offensive-minded Missouri. I spoke with Wesley Matthews on Saturday night and he said this team still believes they can get to Detroit (site of the Final Four.) They have played well against some of the top teams in the nation since Dominic James’ season-ending injury and could still make some noise.
Early Exit: (4) Washington
The Huskies have the four seed in this regional and a tough opening round game against Mississippi State. The Bulldogs have won six in a row including the SEC Tournament, which was their only chance of in the Big Dance. Mississippi State has a big man inside in Jarvis Varnado who can limit Washington’s double-double machine Jon Brockman, and also has the guards to slow down the Huskies talented duo of Isaiah Thomas and Justin Dentmon. Even if Washington gets past the first round, I don’t like their chances against Purdue in the second round.
Most Intriguing First Round Match-up: (7) California vs. (10) Maryland
In my opinion, both of these teams were over-seeded. The Terps finished 7-9 in the ACC, 20-13 overall and were considered by many as more of a bubble team than they actually ended up being. Neither team is playing great basketball right; Maryland has lost five of their last nine while Cal has dropped four of their last six. Both teams rely on their guard play and this game will likely come down to whether or not Greivis Vasquez can carry Maryland like he has had to do much of the season.