NCAA Tournament: James Harden vs. Blake Griffin

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NCAA Tournament: James Harden vs. Blake Griffin

James Harden vs. Blake Griffin. I hope those teams make it through the first weekend for a Sweet 16 clash. Rick Barnes vs. Tubby Smith. This first round matchup of spectacular coaches should go down to the wire.

Aside from obvious powerhouse clashes or top ranked teams going at it, those two games should be something to see. Then again, this is March Madness, so every game should be intriguing as everyone is a quality opponent and anything can happen in any one game.

Best of luck to the Pac-10 teams.

While I don’t doubt Arizona beating Utah in a typical 5-12 upset, getting past Wake Forest and then Louisville is much less likely.

As for Washington, they should be able to beat Mississippi St. and Purdue/Northern Iowa in Portland. From there, I wouldn’t bet on Washington beating UConn.

If Cal can get by Maryland there’s no way they get by Memphis, barring a three-point miracle barrage for the ages.

Big name NBA players always have the potential to take over a tournament and this is hopefully the case with Arizona St. and James Harden. I would be disappointed with an early loss, but with the way Syracuse is playing I wouldn’t count it out. If Harden is able to carry his team, they could go deep in the tourney.

The same goes for Blake Griffin and Oklahoma, which is why I hope both of those teams make it past the first weekend.

And then there’s UNC. Hopefully the Tarheels haven’t been pulling a Florida and tanking the normal season just to blow everyone out convincingly in the tournament.

UCLA and USC.

The road looks tough for UCLA. No quality wins and numerous losses have resulted in a six seed in Philadelphia. I’m already hearing predictions of UCLA being upset by VCU, but they really should win. Coach Howland has plenty of time to prepare for them.

On the other hand, Villanova in Philly is going to be extremely difficult, and that’s probably being generous. If the Bruins can find their defense they will hopefully advance.

It seems to be a good thing to have Duke as the No. 2 seed in your side of the bracket, as they tend to lose early. If not playing Duke at that point, UCLA would face a rematch against Texas or a coaching duel with Minnesota.

Whatever the case, all of these games should be winnable, but that doesn’t mean it’ll happen. If the Bruins manage to get that far, Coach Howland’s protégé Jamie Dixon should be waiting.

USC has clearly had a rough season. They’ve suffered many injuries, but winning the Pac-10 tournament at full strength shows what the team is capable of. They have actually gone 8-0 at full strength and many are considering them a dark horse for the tournament, especially with Demar DeRozan finally coming around.

It won’t be easy though, as Boston College defeated UNC. Following BC would be Michigan St., which is a weak No. 2 seed, as the Big Ten was definitely down this year. Lying ahead should be Kansas, which would certainly be a tough but winnable game. And then they’d have a matchup against Big East champion Louisville.

Long story short, every game is just as winnable as it is losable, and no Pac-10 or any team from the west, for that matter, has displayed any form of dominance or indication of representing the west in Detroit.

And for the record, while I may make it seem like the Pac-10 could do well, if you asked me if I thought the Pac-10 was more likely to win all their first round games or lose, I’d pick lose.

But even then, the top teams have had setbacks and seem vulnerable. The coin flippers and mascot brackets probably stand a better chance of winning than the rest of us!

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