NCAA Tournament Breakdown-West Region

>> Wednesday

While I would not disagree with UCLA being the strong favorite, it would be a mistake to write off Duke. Yes, Duke's major flaws (stopping penetration, interior play) would likely be exploited by Darren Collison and Kevin Love. However, they would also be one a few teams that rank in the top ten in both offensive and defensive efficiency. On a night where their shots would be falling, they could beat anyone and should be a solid favorite up until the Elite 8.

Sleeper Team: Drake

As a 5 seed, they would not be as under as the radar as my previous picks (Butler, Gonzaga, Mississippi State). However, this team had a strong argument for a 4 or even 3 seed and will be a very tough out. They feature the 6th best offense in the country, and along with their ability to knock down perimeter shots they also get a lot of offensive rebounds. Their defense has declined as the season went on, but they held a good Illinois State team to 49 points on just .87 points per possession in the MVC final. It would not surprise me if they knock out UConn in the second round, and they could challenge UCLA if their perimeter shots fall.

Best First Round Game: Purdue v. Baylor

This features a strong contrast in styles, as you have Purdue and their 13th best defense against the prolific offense of Baylor (also ranked 13th). Each team has to like the match-up, as their weaknesses inside will not be exposed, although Kevin Rogers of Baylor would be one of the better offensive rebounders in the country. This game also features a battle of two of the nation's best and most unheralded freshmen: the Boilers Robbie Hummel and the Bears LaceDarius Dunn. Dunn had a huge game in Baylor's NCAA clinching victory at Texas Tech, scoring 38 points on 10-16 from the field, 6-9 from three and 12-13 from the line. In Big Ten play, Hummel played every bit as well as the heavily hyped Eric Gordon of Indiana. That being said, the key to this game will likely be Baylor's two best upperclassmen guards, Curtis Jerrells and Aaron Bruce. I look for them to step up and lead the Bears in the mild upset.

Best Chance for an Upset: Baylor over Purdue

As previewed above, I like Baylor's upperclassmen to help lead the way against a very good, but very inexperienced Purdue squad.

Regional Final: UCLA v. Duke

Region Winner: UCLA

In the end, the Bruins make their third consecutive Final Four and this time they have the ability to take home the big trophy. UCLA fans, all you need is Love in the post to complement Darren Collison, giving the Bruins the balance they need. The emergence of sophomore guard Russell Westbrook puts things over the top for the team I predict will cut down the nets in San Antonio.

4 comments:

Patrick 3:22 PM  

Here's an upset alert for you guys: BYU over UCLA. Granted, I have UCLA winning this game, but this could be one of sleeper games that no one will pay attention to

Matt 3:28 PM  

Moral of these four regional previews: Zuch uses the word "would" a lot.

Just kidding. Kickass work Zuch.

Vinnie 4:34 PM  

The conditional tense would be Zuch's trademark, so I would mind your own business.

Also, Zuch, you promised Bermanisms the other day, and you gave none. Might I suggest:

LaceDarius "One and" Dunn
Kevin "Jolly" Rogers

Zuch 5:38 PM  

Bermanism now added in, and should be popular among Beatles fans.

Also, BYU will really struggle to get by A&M. In fact, you could have easily swapped Texas A&M and Oklahoma's seeds and it would make more sense. While A&M's inconsistency knocked them down to a 9 seed, they have the talent to beat anyone and may be UCLA's biggest roadblock until the Elite 8.

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