Time to take a stand and pick some teams -- The West and the Final Four


Finally, its time to pick the West region and the Final Four bracket.  The tournament begins today, so it won't be very long before we all have feedback on our choices.

I hope all of you elected to participate in A Sea of Blue's bracket challenge.  If you haven't, there is still time as of this writing to get your bracket selection in, and it is really easy.  This earlier post has details on how to do it, and if you can find a few minutes before the games begin today at 12:20 PM.

Moving along to the West bracket, there is another sentimental favorite of mine that will get some love from me -- Western Kentucky.  As most of you know, I am a Western alum, and I spent many more hours than I should have haunting E.A. Diddle Arena in the late hours on the main floor, shooting baskets and pretending I was playing in front of crowds.  It was (and still is) a wonderful place, and an excellent basketball facility.

But I digress.  Here are my picks for the wild and wooly West:

West:

First round:

Easy ones:

  • UCLA over Mississippi Valley State -- A 16 has never beaten a 1, and that won't change here.
  • Duke over Belmont -- I would love to pick Belmont, but no.
That's all the easy ones in this region.  Shocking?  Not if you think about the rest of the games.

Tough ones:
  • Connecticut over San Diego -- I think this could easily go the other way, but Thabeet aught to be too much for the Toreros.  Still, I wouldn't be at all shocked to see San Diego upset the Huskies.
  • BYU over Texas A & M -- BYU is a sleeper team in this tournament.  When they are playing their best, they are capable of beating anybody, and I mean anybody.
  • Purdue over Baylor -- Purdue is more of a grind it out half-court team, and Baylor loves to run.  I think Purdue can control the tempo in this one, and I think their defense wins out over the Bears' offense.
Upsets:
  • Arizona over West Virgina -- This is a very tough call, as the 7-10 games usually are, but I am going with Arizona.  I really don't know why, this one is more of a feeling than anything else.
  • Western Kentucky over Drake -- Gotta pick my alma mater.  This should be a very good game, and Drake will be very tough for Western to handle.  Courtney Lee will be the key to Western's success, and Darrin Horn needs to have the Toppers at the top of their defensive game.
  • Georgia over Xavier -- The Bulldogs are on a serious tear, and their defense is simply the best I have seen.  How the officials call this game will have a huge impact, but if they don't call it too closely, Georgia is more than capable of upsetting the Musketeers.  Xavier has not seen anything remotely like the Georgia defense, and I think they may well panic when they find how hard it is to score against them.

Second Round:
  • UCLA over BYU -- I just don't think the Cougars have quite enough to win this one, but it will be a very competitive game, and I would not be surprised if I was wrong.
  • Connecticut over Western Kentucky -- Western is at a huge size disadvantage against UConn, and I think that will be the difference.
  • Georgia over Purdue -- Call me crazy, but Purdue is full of young freshman and Georgia has lots of crafty veterans.  This Georgia team has turned a huge corner, in my opinion, and the SEC tournament shocker has forged them into a very dangerous team.
  • Duke over Arizona -- Well, I had to pick somebody.

Regional Semifinals:
  • Duke over Georgia -- The Cinderella slipper cracks.
  • UCLA over Connecticut -- Tough call, UCLA has done it all year, and I expect them to hang on here.

Regional Finals:
  • UCLA over Duke -- The Bruins should have enough to send the Blue Devils back to Durham.

FINAL FOUR:
  • Tennessee over Wisconsin -- I think the Vols have all they need to send the Badgers back home.  If this game happens, it should be a good one.
  • Memphis over UCLA -- Ben Ball finally runs into the unstoppable force.  Memphis has too many weapons for the Bruins, and as good as Love & Co. are, I think they are going to come up just short.

FINAL GAME:
  • Memphis over Tennessee -- The Tigers get revenge on the Vols for the earlier game.  We have seen these two teams battle it out before, and I think Calipari learned enough from the first game to get this one.  Final score -- 78-70.

There we go.  Comment away.
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