2011 NCAA Tournament Predictions: West Region

March 16, 2011
By K. Becks

Just as intriguing as the East Region, here is my West Region breakdown.

First Round Games to Watch

#6 Cincinnati vs. #11 Missouri (Thurs, following UConn vs. Bucknell)

The knock on the Missouri Tigers is that they aren’t the same team away from home as the one that stifles opponents in their own gym. If the Tigers want to knock off Cincinnati, then they had better brought their up-tempo style with them when they left Columbia for Washington, D.C. Cincinnati has the athleticism to play Missouri’s style of basketball, but they would prefer to keep opponents’ score down and play a more half-court oriented game. Whichever team forces the tempo of the game may end up on the winning side of this battle, but free throws may have a say as well.

#3 Connecticut vs. #14 Bucknell (Thurs, 2:10 pm)

It might be a good idea just to keep your television on TNT for most of Thursday afternoon. This doesn’t look like a particularly good matchup just by looking at the seeds, but don’t be fooled. UConn is coming off a brutal stretch in which they played five games in five days to win the Big East tournament last weekend. It isn’t a matter of will they run out of gas; rather, when they run out of gas. Bucknell is the perfect team to take advantage. They don’t run you off the floor, but make the most of their shot opportunities and will have the opposition on their heels for forty minutes. Bucknell was a giant killer last decade, and it isn’t crazy to think they could make their mark early in this decade as well.

Team That Could Make a Run

Arizona

The Wildcats may be able to say they put themselves back on the map in the 2011 NCAA Tournament. It has been awhile since Arizona has had major success in the Big Dance, but thanks to future NBA star Derrick Williams, Wildcat fans could have a lot to cheer about very soon. Williams is extremely consistent, but due to a combination of the fact that he plays out West, and the fact that he isn’t very showy, not a lot of people know about him. With a favorable draw, it is likely that people will begin to know about him, and he could take Arizona all the way to Houston. In addition, Arizona has a coach in Sean Miller who knows how to win tournament games. This is a potentially dangerous matchup for Duke in the Sweet 16.

My Picks

2nd Round

#1 Duke over #16 Hampton

#9 Tennessee over #8 Michigan

#5 Arizona over #12 Memphis

#13 Oakland over #4 Texas (upset alert)

#6 Cincinnati over #11 Missouri

#3 Connecticut over #14 Bucknell

#7 Temple over #10 Penn State

#2 San Diego State over #15 Northern Colorado

3rd Round

#1 Duke over #9 Tennessee

#5 Arizona over #13 Oakland

#3 Connecticut over #6 Cincinnati

#2 San Diego State over #7 Temple

Sweet 16

#1 Duke over #5 Arizona

#2 San Diego State over #3 Connecticut

Elite 8

#2 San Diego State over #1 Duke

- K. Becks

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