NCAA Bracket Busting: West Regional
The only debate among No. 1 seeds for the 2009 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament was the choice of UConn in the West Regional.
Memphis coach John Calipari felt his team had the resume to be placed on the top line in a regional just as they were in 2008. They'll have the chance to prove it in Phoenix should the top two seeds advance to a showdown in the regional final.
One facet of the West Regional that jumps out right away is the diverse group of coaches who have been placed in.
You have the old guard with coaches like Calipari, Jim Calhoun, Gary Williams, and Lorenzo Romar. All of these coaches are accomplished, with Calhoun and Williams having cut down the nets at the Final Four in their careers.
Then, we have some young up-and-coming coaches in the forms of Buzz Williams, Mike Anderson, and Matt Painter.
Williams had his Marquette Golden Eagles in the top 10 for most of the year until the injury to senior Dominic James. Some thought Williams would be a downgrade from Tom Crean, but he proved to be a solid replacement.
Painter has rebuilt the Purdue program to what the legendary Gene Keady had before him. His strong defensive style has frustrated many teams this season. The Boilers lead the Big Ten in opposing field goal percentage allowed.
Anderson has Tournament experience from his time at UAB but will have to learn how to play the role of the favorite this year. His three-seeded Missouri Tigers have a very good chance at making the Final Four.
First Round Game To Watch
This game will come down to one player: Greivis Vasquez.
The Terps' point guard has the ability to drop 20 and 10 on any given night. But, he also has been known to compile turnovers at an alarming rate as well.
Depending on what player shows up, Maryland could very well see themselves making it to the second weekend.
Edge goes to Maryland.
Honorable Mentions: Purdue v. Northern Iowa, Washington v. Mississippi State
I just don't see Coach Cal's guys making it past the second weekend. There are a lot of potential upsets in the way for the Tigers making it to Detroit.
The second round could bring a tough ACC opponent in Maryland. The Sweet 16 will likely bring a veteran Missouri team that can run just as well as Memphis. The Elite Eight will likely have a UConn team that defends the paint better than any other team in the country.
I see Memphis falling in the Sweet 16 to Anderson's Missouri Tigers.
The sleeper pick in the West Regional this year has to be the Washington Huskies. The three teams on the lines above them are all from the East or Midwest and will have to travel to Phoenix and deal with a time change.
Washington has the shortest travel to Phoenix, and Jon Brockman is one of the few guys in the country who will challenge Hasheem Thabeet on the boards.
Another sleeper comes in the form of the Utah State Aggies. Another big man in 6'9" senior forward Gary Wilkinson is someone who could really frustrate the smaller, guard-oriented teams.
Marquette will need to get out front early in order to pass this first round test.
As much as I don't want to see four No. 1 seeds back in the Final Four this year, it's hard to see who will stand in their way.
I see UConn and Missouri squaring off in the regional final in Phoenix. The size inside of Thabeet, the perimeter play of A.J. Price, and Calhoun's experience should lead the Huskies to their third Final Four.
Every other time that Calhoun reached the Final Four, they cut down the nets.
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