2012 NCAA Tournament Predictions: West Region

March 14, 2012

One of the most intriguing regions in the tournament which features several teams with a true shot of making it to New Orleans, the West Region should be fun to watch. Here are my predictions for that region.

Second Round Games to Watch

#4 Louisville vs. #13 Davidson (Thurs, 1:40 PM)

Davidson shoots well from behind the arc and beat Kansas in Lawrence, which isn’t something that many teams can say they did. However, you’re crazy if you think that Louisville coach Rick Pitino hasn’t reminded his team many times about how it felt when they were upset by 13 seed Morehead State in last year’s tournament. Pitino’s squad has a nice balance of experience and youth, and point guard Peyton Siva is an electric player than can find even the smallest holes in defenses. Fresh off a Big East tournament championship, the Cardinals appear to be playing well at the right time.

The Cardinals will be tough to beat, but Davidson is a typical mid-major capable of knocking off one of the big boys. They have an inside presence, shoot well from three point range, and have five players who average double-digits in scoring. This Thursday afternoon game has the potential to be one that people are talking about on Friday morning.

#3 Marquette vs. #14 BYU (Thurs, following Murray State vs. Colorado State)

BYU came back from a 25 point deficit against Iona on Tuesday night to make it to this game, which at the very least shows that no lead is safe against the Cougars. What remains to be seen is whether or not the excessive travel that the team has done over the past four days (Provo, Utah to Dayton, Ohio to Louisville, Kentucky) will begin to take a toll on them. Coming out flat against Marquette is not a recipe for success, even though Marquette frequently comes out flat as well, as the Golden Eagles love to apply pressure and will take advantage of mistakes made by opposing offenses. The guard/forward tandem of Darius Johnson-Odom and Jae Crowder is one of the best in the country, averaging a combined 35.9 points per game.

It will be interesting to find out whether BYU’s zone defense, which stifled Iona’s offensive attack throughout the second half of the Cougar’s first round game, will have similar success against the likes of Johnson-Odom and Crowder. If it does, the Cougars may be able to control the tempo of the game and keep it close with the Golden Eagles, which are considered a dark horse Final Four contender by many.

Team That Could Make a Run


As I alluded to earlier, the Golden Eagles are considered a dark horse Final Four contender by many. What makes them so appealing is their relentless defense, which averages 8.8 steals per game. Jae Crowder is a special player with the size to play like a forward, but the ball handling and shooting skills to play like a guard. While Marquette won’t necessarily go as far as Crowder alone takes them, he is an integral part to the team’s success. Foul trouble has been an issue for him, and when he’s out of the game, the Golden Eagles seem lost at times.

Matchups are extremely important, and Marquette matches up very well with a lot of teams in the region that they may face. Even a potential Sweet 16 matchup with Missouri shouldn’t intimidate Buzz Williams’ team, as the Golden Eagles feel like they can run with anyone. If Marquette is playing well, they will be one of the most exciting teams in the entire tournament to watch.

My Picks

Second Round

#1 Michigan State over #16 LIU Brooklyn

#9 Saint Louis over #8 Memphis

#5 New Mexico over #12 Long Beach State

#4 Louisville over #13 Davidson

#6 Murray State over #11 Colorado State

#3 Marquette over #14 BYU

#7 Florida over #10 Virginia

#2 Missouri over #15 Norfolk State

Third Round

#1 Michigan State over #9 Saint Louis

#5 New Mexico over #4 Louisville

#3 Marquette over #6 Murray State

#2 Missouri over #7 Florida

Sweet 16

#1 Michigan State over #5 New Mexico

#2 Missouri over #3 Marquette

Elite 8

#1 Michigan State over #2 Missouri

– K. Becks

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