TOURNAMENT PREVIEW: THE WEST

Stanford is the king in this region, at least according to the seeds. Iowa State, Maryland and Indiana round out the top four. This is not as intimidating a group as the top four in some other regions. Iowa State’s starting five is tough but they are not very deep. Maryland is talented but has been up and down all year. They also have a tradition of tournament flops. Indiana is talented but young. Don’t be too surprised if a lower seed makes its way into the Sweet 16 and maybe beyond.

Now on to the first round:

1 Stanford v. 16 UNC-Greensboro
The University of North Carolina – Greensboro has one of the longest names in the tournament. Too bad they’ll have one of the shortest stays. Stanford in a landslide.
8 Georgia Tech v. 9 St. Joseph’s
St. Joseph’s fans have been clamoring for respect all year. They still can’t get any. Georgia Tech has too much inside.

5 Cincinnati v. 12 BYU
The Bearcats have really turned it around from their early season woes. Unfortunately for them, they get to face one of the toughest 12 seeds in the tourney. Look for BYU’s Wesley and Lyday to have big days as the Cougars advance.

4 Indiana v. 13 Kent State
We are tepidly picking the Hoosiers. They have a coach who hasn’t been there and doesn’t handle the huge media crush very well. Their players are talented but young. They are still probably too talented for Kent State but be wary of this game.

6 Wisconsin v. 11 Georgia State
This Georgia State team is good but this is probably the worst team that they could draw. Wisconsin’s style is different that teams that have not seen it before usually have problems when facing the Badgers. It doesn’t help that GSU coach, Lefty Driesell didn’t know if Wisconsin had a good big man or not. Badgers beat Panthers.

3 Maryland v. 14 George Mason
Maryland should roll in this one. That doesn’t mean they will. This team could fold at any time. We just don’t think it will be in this round. Terps move on.

7 Arkansas v. 10 Georgetown
This should be one of the more entertaining first round match-ups. Both teams are athletic and like to press. Arkansas has a big-time go-to guy in sophomore Joe Johnson. He’ll be the key as the Hogs win.

2 Iowa State v. 15 Hampton
ISU lost to Baylor in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 tourney. What’s that mean? It means the Cyclones come in well rested. A fresh Cyclone team is bad news for Hampton. Cyclones win easy.

Round Two:

1 Stanford v. 8 Georgia Tech
Georgia Tech has a lot of experience playing big, talented teams. Unfortunately for the Yellow Jackets, most of the experience has been bad. Stanford’s inside strength should prove too much for Georgia Tech. Stanford survives.
4 Indiana v. 12 BYU
Mike Davis will learn how difficult the tournament really is in this round. BYU is extremely balanced and experienced. This does not bode well for the Hoosiers. Cougars will pull the upset and advance to the Sweet 16.

3 Maryland v. 6 Wisconsin
Gary Williams’ team likes to press and trap. Brad Soderberg’s team likes to walk-it-up. Something has to give. This is generally the time of year when the Terps do the giving. These two teams met earlier in the season and Wisconsin won a 78-75 thriller. Don’t look for the score to be as high this time around. Badgers should move on.

2 Iowa State v. 7 Arkansas
This game will be a battle of tempo. The Hogs will want 40 minutes of hell while Eustachy’s squad will want to protect their bench. The Hogs will be coming off a tougher game against Georgetown while the Cyclones should have a sleeper in the first round. Altitude could play a factor but maybe not in favor of the Hogs. Cyclones should prove too tough and survive a tough game.

Sweet 16:

1 Stanford v. 12 BYU
These two teams are very similar except for the fact that Stanford is a whole lot better. The Cardinal will dominate in the paint and around the arc. Stanford should have an easy time and advance.
2 Iowa State v. 6 Wisconsin
Iowa State is one of those teams that can play at any tempo. A slower paced game will not affect the Cyclones. Look for ISU’s Jamal Tinsley to break down the tough Wisconsin defense and get Mike Kelley and the rest of the Badgers in foul trouble. ISU moves on to meet mighty Stanford.

Elite 8:

1 Stanford v. 2 Iowa State
After some early round upsets, the cream rises to the top. This 1 versus 2 should be a good one. Everyone focuses on the Cyclones excellent backcourt but don’t forget about Martin Rancik and Paul Shirley. These two guys should match-up with the Stanford’s Jared and Jason Collins. Casey Jacobsen will face the toughest defense that he has seen and Tinsley will take over again, as the Cyclones will advance to the Final Four.