NCAA Tournament West Region First Round: Place Your Bets

Shaun HartCorrespondent IMarch 17, 2009

NCAA Tournament West Region Preview

First Round—March 19-20


Pour yourself another Guinness and get your bookie on the phone. It's time to place your bets for the NCAA Tournament. Here's a quick rundown of the lines and my insider take on each game. Let the Madness begin! 


No. 1 Connecticut vs. No. 16 UT-Chattanooga

Spread: Connecticut -20.5

Backcourt Advantage: Connecticut

Frontcourt Advantage: Connecticut

Momentum: Connecticut

Bottom Line: The Huskies have gotten their share of tournament scares recently, but the Mocs won't be able to keep this close. Hasheem Thabeet will anchor a UConn defense that will be dominant early, but they'll run into trouble before reaching the Final Four.

Shaun's Pick: Connecticut -20.5


No. 8 BYU vs. No. 9 Texas A&M

Spread: BYU -2.0

Backcourt Advantage: Even

Frontcourt Advantage: Texas A&M

Momentum: BYU

Bottom Line: The Aggies match up well with BYU, but I like the Cougars to win in a close one. Both teams bowed out early in their conference tournaments after ending the regular season with nice winning streaks. Although Josh Carter (26 points vs. BYU in a first round win last year) is back for an encore for Texas A&M, BYU will win the rematch.

Shaun's Pick: BYU -2.0


No. 5 Purdue vs. No. 12 Northern Iowa

Spread: Purdue -8.5

Backcourt Advantage: Even

Frontcourt Advantage: Purdue

Momentum: Purdue

Bottom Line: Northern Iowa is going to scare the pants off the Boilermakers in what has the potential to be the upset that no one really sees coming after Purdue won the Big 10 tourney. Robbie Hummel's back seems to be fine and Purdue has been playing its best basketball of the season recently, but the Panthers can shoot the ball well and should keep this game dangerously close.

Shaun's Pick: Northern Iowa +8.5


No. 4 Washington vs. No. 13 Mississippi State

Spread: Washington -5.0

Backcourt Advantage: Washington

Frontcourt Advantage: Washington

Momentum: Even

Bottom Line: Don't let the Bulldogs' SEC run fool you. They're not nearly as good as Washington. Jon Brockman will give Jarvis Varnado fits inside and UW's backcourt duo of Isaiah Thomas and Justin Dentmon will be too much for Mississippi State to handle. The Huskies are poised for a deep tournament run.

Shaun's Pick: Washington -5.0


No. 6 Marquette vs. No. 11 Utah State

Spread: Marquette -4.5

Backcourt Advantage: Marquette

Frontcourt Advantage: Even

Momentum: Utah State

Bottom Line: Marquette should win this game, but Utah State will keep it dangerously close. This is a tough draw for Utah State, who is definitely a team that can pull off a tourney upset. The Golden Eagles, despite their slide without Dominic James, will find a way to win and advance, but it won't be easy.

Shaun's Pick: Utah State +4.5


No. 3 Missouri vs. No. 14 Cornell

Spread: Missouri -13.0

Backcourt Advantage: Missouri

Frontcourt Advantage: Missouri

Momentum: Missouri

Bottom Line: Missouri is on a roll after winning the Big 12, so look for them to keep it going. The Tigers will overwhelm Cornell with their swarming defense and up-tempo, high-scoring offense.

Shaun's Pick: Missouri -13.0


No. 7 California vs. No. 10 Maryland

Spread: California -1.0

Backcourt Advantage: Even

Frontcourt Advantage: California

Momentum: Even

Bottom Line: This will be a backcourt battle, so whoever's shooting better from the outside will win this one. Cal's been more consistent and leads the nation in 3-point shooting. Jerome Randle vs. Greivis Vasquez will be one of the more entertaining individual match-ups of the first round.

Shaun's Pick: California -1.0


No. 2 Memphis vs. No. 15 Cal St-Northridge 

Spread: Memphis -20.0

Backcourt Advantage: Memphis

Frontcourt Advantage: Memphis

Momentum: Memphis

Bottom Line: Memphis should win soundly, but this game probably won't get out of control. The Matadors are actually better than most of the Tigers' Conference USA opponents, so while the game will never be in doubt, I'll take the points.

Shaun's Pick: CS-Northridge +20.0


Shaun's Midwest Region First Round Preview

Shaun's East Region First Round Preview

Shaun's South Region First Round Preview

Get all of your College Basketball picks against the spread at


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