Fortune Teller: West Regional Brackets

We preview the upcoming NCAA tournament by taking a look at each of the regional brackets. Last up: the West regional. For a good laugh, take a look at our West Regional preview from a year ago.


Best First-Round Matchup

Brian: I'm going with (6) Marquette vs. (11) Utah State. Utah State was actually in the Top 25 at some point this season, but everyone quickly forgot about the Aggies after they crapped the bed at St. Mary's. They followed up that loss with another disappointing loss on the road at Nevada before finishing the season with four straight wins and the WAC conference title. Utah State has an offense ranked Top 15 nationally, but they apparently don't play defense. Marquette is a dangerous 6 seed, although it all started to unravel for Marquette after their 57-56 loss at South Florida back in early February. I believe we had that one right. Part of me thinks this matchup resembles nothing like a 6 vs. 11 and instead could have been a second round matchup. Location seems to favor Utah State in this one as they have a short four and a half hour trip from Logan, UT to Boise.

Jeff: Is the SEC better than we have thought? Is the SEC tournament champion much better than your average 13 seed in the tournament? Well we'll find out when Mississippi State plays Washington in the 4 vs. 13 matchup. Mississippi St. has a lot it can prove and for the SEC's sake hopefully it will at least be a close game.


Matchup We'd Most Like To See

Jeff: I'd like to see Missouri vs. Purdue in the Elite 8. This would mean both UConn and Memphis are out of the tournament and I would not mind that at all.

Brian: But Jeff, the UConn Huskies are your boys?!

I want to see Connecticut vs. Washington (again) in the Sweet 16. If only because the 1998 matchup between these two teams was legendary, and Nike recently put out a pretty good commercial commemorating the game. The committee must hate the UW Huskies for matching them up against UConn in the Sweet 16. Sounds like something they would have done to BC if they had the opportunity.


Trendy Bandwagon Pick

Brian: The Big XII champion Missouri Tigers. Fresh off their first conference tournament championship, the Tigers are a trendy pick to go far in this regional. A word of caution: while the Tigers won three straight to win their conference title, this is also a team that is coming off a 90-65 drubbing by fellow 3-seed Kansas. Also, with both Oklahoma and Kansas bowing out of the Big XII championship early, it's not like the Tigers faced the stiffest of competition - Texas Tech, Oklahoma St. and Baylor - to win their conference. I expect Missouri to get out of the first round, but they will have a tough, tough second round matchup if the seeds hold and the Tigers get Marquette. Marquette was flirting with the Top 10 for most of the year before they hit the Big East five-headed buzzsaw of Connecticut / Louisville / Pittsburgh / Syracuse / Villanova to end the season. I would argue that Marquette is better than their seed indicates given their extremely backloaded Big East schedule. Just playing Devil's advocate here.

Jeff: I'm not disagreeing with you but I am also hearing a lot of talk about Memphis winning it all so I would say that they are the hot pick in the region. Memphis is definitely not as good as they were last season and did not win it all last year but the teams at the top are not quite as strong this year so Calipari's Tigers can very well make it through the region and win it all.


The Sleeper Pick

Jeff: Northern Iowa! We were the first to introduce you to Northern Iowa when they made it into our top 25 for one whole week.

Brian: (10) Maryland. The Terps have quality wins this season over several high-seeded tournament teams. (1) North Carolina, (2) Michigan State, and (4) Wake Forest ... I guess throw (10) Michigan in there too. If the Maryland that beat Wake Forest in the ACC Tournament shows up, they could give Memphis a scare in the second round. Besides, Memphis hasn't been challenged in some time coasting through their Conference USA sched. If the Maryland that lost to Morgan State back in December ... at home ... shows up, well, this won't be much of a sleeper pick at all.


Watch Out For...

Brian: Keeping in the theme of east coast guys showing the left coast some love, let's go with Washington's freshman guard Isaiah Thomas. (No, not that Isiah Thomas). Thomas and senior guard Justin Dentmon give the Huskies one of the best backcourts in the West regional.

Jeff: Greivis Vasquez. As much as I am not his biggest fan, Vasquez is the player to watch in this region. If he has a bad day, Maryland will not win a single game but if he gets hot the Terps could win several games and maybe ... just maybe even make it out of this region.


Random Fact about the Regional that will do you no good while selecting your bracket:

This wasn't the sort of Midnight Madness we had in mind ... "On the first day of team practice, the University of Maryland (public, founded in 1856) men's basketball team runs laps around the university track at midnight, a tradition dubbed "Midnight Madness" that dates back to 1970."


Jeff's Picks
Second Round: Connecticut, Texas A&M, Purdue, Washington, Marquette, Missouri, Maryland, Memphis
Sweet 16: Connecticut, Purdue, Missouri, Memphis
Elite 8: Purdue, Memphis
Final Four Pick: Memphis

Brian's Picks
Second Round: Connecticut, Texas A&M, Purdue, Washington, Marquette, Missouri, Maryland, Memphis
Sweet 16: Connecticut, Washington, Marquette, Memphis
Elite 8: Connecticut, Memphis
Final Four Pick: Memphis


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