West Region Breakdown: Will the Orange Crush K-State & Co.?
Editor's Note: Yesterday Mr. T weighed-in with a preview of the South and East region. This morning, he broke down the Midwest region. Follow Mr. T's college hoop thoughts and gambling picks on Twitter. I thought Syracuse was an under-the-radar title contender in January after watching them play the early part of the Big East schedule. Kansas and Kentucky were getting all the attention, but Syracuse had all the aspects of a National Championship team. Their 2-3 zone is the best it's been in years because of the length and height of their guards. It's never easy to prepare for a zone when it's your second game in three days, playing right into Cuse's tournament hopes. The Orange have numerous different ways to score, either on the fast break, Wes Johnson and Kris Joseph creating their own shots, bombing threes, or dumping it into the post. They now, however, enter the tournament as the shakiest of any #1 seed. They still have the potential to win it all, but the Onuaku injury and two consecutive losses loom over everything. No team has ever lost in the first round of their conference tournament and won a national championship. But Syracuse is good enough to reach the Final Four in my bracket.
Kansas State was one of my sleepers earlier in the season because they have two high-powered guards and lots of athleticism in the front court. I've come down on them a bit because they haven't developed a true post scorer, but they do have the ability to make a deep run. BYU matches up horribly with K-State's front court and Pittsburgh is the least talented team to ever get a #3 seed, which shows Jamie Dixon's ability to coach. Unfortunately you need some talent to win games in March. Vanderbilt and Butler might not make it out of opening weekend, let alone the first round.
First round upset that will happen: UTEP over Butler UTEP flamed out in their conference tournament final, but the duo of Randy Culpepper and Derrick Caracter can take them places. Butler doesn't have anyone who matches up well with either player. Caracter will likely get Butler's Matt Howard in early foul trouble, as he's prone to do, and Culpepper can't be guarded by anyone Butler throws out there on the floor. Butler also has shown weakness on neutral floors as they're only sporting a 1-3 mark in such situations this season.
First round upset that won't happen: Florida over BYU Somehow the committee placed the Gators on the 10 seed line despite losing four of their last five games and barely making it in. Florida amassed some nice early season wins, but their young backcourt has melted down the stretch and this game should be no different. BYU has struggled in recent NCAA Tournaments with physical frontcourts, something Florida does not bring to the table.
Best Vegas Bets:
- BYU (-5) over Florida: This line has already moved from -2.5 to -5 and yet I don't care.
- Florida St. (-1.5) over Gonzaga: This Zags team just isn't any good and FSU will D them up.
- Xavier (+1500) to make the Final Four: Xavier's probably a year away, but you never know.
- Vanderbilt (+1500) to make the Final Four: The Commodores are a team that can get hot from three and ride that to many victories. Final Four Predictions: Final 4: Kansas over Syracuse. West Virginia over Baylor. National Championship: Kansas over West Virginia.