NCAA Tournament – West Region Predictions

March 15, 2010

For the next several weeks, my blog is going to take a shift focus towards the NCAA tournament… my favorite event in all of sports. Today, let’s take a look at the West Region.


#1 Syracuse vs #16 Vermont: There’s some history behind this match-up. Vermont ousted Syracuse from the 2005 NCAA tournament in the first round and look to do so again. Not going to happen. Even with Arinze Onauku likely out with an injury, the Orange are simply a much better team. Syracuse

#8 Gonzaga vs #9 Florida State: The Zags should win this game. They’ve been a Top 15 team all year long and are pretty unlucky to be seeded this low. Even with the loss to St. Marys, this seems unfair. I’d be highly upset if FSU knocks them out. Gonzaga

#5 Butler vs #12 UTEP: Probably the most interesting first round match-up in the top half of the region. Both of these teams pretty much ran through their respective conferences (Butler 18-0, UTEP 15-1 in league play) and neither had a ton of success against good teams in non-conference play. Butler did pick up a win against Ohio State, but the Buckeyes were without Evan Turner, so even that comes with an asterisk. Also, their starting line-ups boast similar talent levels. I’m going to give a slight edge Butler in this game, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see an upset. Butler

#4 Vanderbilt vs #13 Murray State: Vanderbilt went 6-2 against teams that made the field this year, with both losses coming against Kentucky. There was a point in time when I thought Vanderbilt was the best unranked team in the country, so to see them as a 4 seed here is pretty validating. Murray State is kind of a wild card. They stormed their way to 30 wins by demolishing the Ohio Valley Conference and California is really the only noteworthy team they played all year, but they only lost that game by five points. I’ve seen some people calling this upset, but I’m not going to be one of them. Vanderbilt

#6 Xavier vs #11 Minnesota: Minnesota is a hard team to predict; they are one of a very few teams that can say they beat Ohio State with Evan Turner in the line-up… but they also go destroyed by that same Buckeye team twice later in the season. They also hold wins over Purdue and Butler and went 1-2 in 3 close games against Michigan State. I haven’t really seen either of these teams play and even though Xavier is 2-7 against teams in the field, my hunch says they will out run and gun the Golden Gophers. Xavier

#3 Pittsburgh vs #14 Oakland: Pitt has been one of the more surprising teams this year. After losing a very key core of players from last season, I expected them to be a non-factor, yet here they are as a #3 seed. They went 3-1 against teams ranked in the top 5 at the time of the game. They are certainly capable of beating anyone. Regardless, I really want to call an upset here. I’ve been following Keith Benson all season and that dude can flat out play. With that said, Oakland played four games against tournament teams and lost all four of those games by an average of 27.25 points and I just can’t pull the trigger. Pittsburgh

#7 BYU vs #10 Florida: This should be the most exciting battle in the West in the first round. Florida has been a little inconsistent this year, but are capable of the upset. I really like their freshmen guard Kenny Boynton. BYU simply has more talent and should win this game though. BYU

#2 Kansas State vs #15 Northern Texas: I don’t know anything about Northern Texas except that someone on a site I post at has been saying they’ll upset someone in the first round of the tournament if they happen to get in… and here they are. Kansas State has been ridiculously strong all season long, however, and one of the more surprising teams in my opinion and I just don’t see them losing here. Kansas State

Pretty straight forward round in this region and I’m calling no upsets. The teams with the best chances of pulling off the upset are Florida and UTEP. I still haven’t completely filled out my brackets, but looking ahead, the second round is going to have some seriously tough match-ups. My top four favorites for the Elite Eight are Syracuse, Gonzaga, BYU, and Kansas State, but if the first round goes as planned, those four will be playing one another in the second round. Brutal.

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