NCAA Basketball

March Madness 2012 Preview: West Region

Florida GatorsToday is the day! The second round of the tournament begins with 16 games today and 16 more on Friday. If you are a hoops fan this is what you have been waiting for. Due to some professional obligations, I will not be able to make my annual trek to Sin City until the weekend but that won’t stop me from checking scores whenever I get the chance. The last region to preview is wide open. The West region is perhaps the weakest region so maybe we will see a Cinderella from this region reach the Final Four.

The 1-16 matchup features Michigan State v LIU-Brooklyn. Unless the New Jersey Nets moved already to Brooklyn and to the place of LIU, there is no chance that they will beat Sparty. The 8-9 matchup features Memphis v St. Louis. The Tigers want to get out and run. They have very good athletes that thrive in transition. St. Louis is just the complete opposite. They like to slow the tempo and run down the shot clock on offense. This will be a game of wills. Whichever team can impose its will on the other will win the game. I like the athletes that Memphis has to stave off the Billikens and advance to the weekend. Michigan State v Memphis will come down to the physical defense of Sparty. Tim Izzo is legendary when it comes to playing a physical, hard nose brand of defense. They can rebound with anybody and will slow down Memphis and advance to the Sweet 16.

The 5-12 game is definitely my favorite game of the 2nd round, New Mexico v Long Beach State. There may not be a team with more momentum than the Lobos. The Lobos have depth, talent, and athleticism. Coach Steve Alford has a lot of weapons at his disposal including Drew Gordon, Kendall Williams and Tony Snell. The Beach played a tough non-conference schedule to prepare them for March. Big West POY Casper Ware is a scoring machine while fellow backcourt mate Larry Anderson was named defensive player of the year.

The big question in this game will be the health of Anderson. He hurt his knee in the conference tournament and his status is in doubt for the matchup against the Lobos. If Anderson was at full strength I would take the Beach to upset New Mexico, however I am not so sure he plays so I am going to take the Lobos. The 4-13 matchup features the Louisville Cardinals v Davidson Wildcats. Louisville is coming off an improbable run to win the Big East tournament. Head coach Rick Pitino knows what it takes to advance in March. Davidson doesn’t have a Stephen Curry type superstar that will upset Louisville. New Mexico v Louisville should be awesome. New Mexico matches up well against Louisville. New Mexico will be able to execute their offense against the Louisville defense. I like the Lobos to get to the Sweet 16.

The 6-11 matchup features the Racers of Murray State v Colorado State Rams. Murray State is 30-1 on the season. They love to get out a push the ball up the floor. The Racers love attacking the basket in transition. The faster the tempo, the odds are Murray State will come out victorious. Colorado State is the 4th team out of the MWC to make the tournament. Unlike the other teams from the conference, I don’t think they have chance to win. I think Murray State will blow out CSU. The 3-14 matchup features Marquette v BYU. I love the toughness of Marquette.

They play each possession like it is their last. The Golden Eagles are like a track team out there on the floor. They love the fast tempo, full court defense forcing you into mistakes. BYU is coming off a shocking win in the final seconds against Iona. BYU was even lucky to make the tournament as they were the last team in. I think their luck will run out against the Golden Eagles. The first team to 100 points will probably win the Murray State-Marquette game. They are very similar in wanting to play at fast tempo. The only major difference between the two teams is that Marquette can play a better brand of defense. I like Marquette to advance to the Sweet 16.

The 7-10 game is Florida v Virginia. I can’t stand Florida! I openly root for them to lose every game by 20+. The Gators are talented but inconsistent. They have been playing well lately coming close to beating Kentucky twice over the past 2 weeks. Virginia is led by Mike Scott. He is there leading scorer and rebounder. The problem for Virginia is that they don’t have much depth and have lost 5 out of 8. Even though Virginia is stingy on defense, Florida just has too many weapons in their arsenal and should beat the Cavs earning a trip to the weekend.

The 2-15 game is between Missouri and Norfolk State. I genuinely feel bad for Norfolk State. Missouri is an absolute juggernaut right now. The Tigers are fresh off of winning the Big 12 tournament and have outstanding guard play which is essential in the NCAA tournament. The Tigers should have no problem ousting Norfolk State. Florida-Missouri will come down to which team’s guard play better. Missouri has the Pressley brothers and Marcus Denmon while Florida will counter with Kenny Boynton and Erving Walker. I think Missouri will overmatch the Gators and setup an epic showdown with Marquette in the Sweet 16.

There you have it, my “expert” analysis on the first weekend of the NCAA tournament. I know a little bit about basketball but not everything; however the one thing I know for sure is that there will definitely be March Madness! Thank you for reading and until next time have a wonderful and prosperous day.

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Eric G.

Eric is the owner and editor-in-chief of the Camel Clutch Blog. Eric has worked in the pro wrestling industry since 1995 as a ring announcer in ECW and a commentator/host on television, PPV, and home video. Eric also hosted Pro Wrestling Radio on terrestrial radio from 1998-2009. Check out some of Eric's work on his IMDB bio and Wikipedia. Eric has an MBA from Temple University's Fox School of Business.

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