Bracket Series pt. 3 (East Region)

Bracket Series 3- East Region

by Dwayne D.

Today on TSX, we are in the third installment of our Bracket Series coverage, this time covering the East Region.  So without further ado, lets take a look into the matchups.

1. Pittsburgh vs. 16 E. Tennessee State

– Pitt is experienced, hungry, and poised for a NCAA Final Four run, the Panthers are loaded with talent, and are led by Big East co-Player of the Year DaJuan Blair. For the Panthers to win this game and other games in the tournament, Blair will have to stay out of foul trouble, when he is in foul trouble, or fouls out, that’s when they are their most vulnerable. However, out of all the 16 seeds that have a remote chance (and very remote chance at that) of beating a 1 seed, it is ETSU. The Bucs have a great scorer in Kevin Tiggs, who is averaging 21.5 PPG, and also keep an eye on Courtney Pigram (17.6 PPG) and Mike Smith (15.5 PPG). If ETSU can get Blair into early foul trouble, we might have a close game in the 1st round.

8. Oklahoma State vs. 9. Tennessee

– Oklahoma State and Tennessee are two teams that are getting hot at the right time, and this seems to be pretty even at this point in time. In this one, I would have to go with Tennessee for the simple fact that Bruce Pearl always has his teams going at the right time, in March. Wayne Chism and Tyler Smith are the keys to Tennessee’s success, where as Byron Eaton is the Senior that’s the pulse of the Cowboys. At the end of the day, I’m rollin with the Vols, who will get dispatched by Pitt.

5. Florida State vs 12. Wisconsin

– Can anybody tell me how in the world did Wisconsin get in? Seriously? The Badgers were left for dead most of the season, and then they magically appear in the 65-team field, but it is what is. They are here now, but I don’t see a 12 over a 5 in this one, so I’m going with the ‘Noles. Although they lost to Duke in the ACC Championship game, they are focused, and they can knock off anybody on their good or bad days (Just ask the Tar Heels). Once Toney Douglas gets going, it’s a wrap. FSU moves on easily.

4. Xavier vs. 13. Portland State

– I have a potential upset alert from this region. Xavier is vulnerable, they have had some crippling losses (Duquesne, Charlotte, etc.) and Portland State is no slouch, these guys did beat a very good Gonzaga team. B.J. Raymond and Derek Brown will have to be on top of their game and out of foul trouble if they want any remote chance of victory in this game. Keep an eye on Jeremiah Dominguez and Dominic Waters. Once these kids go off, it’s going to be a lot closer than you think. The way they felt after winning the Big Sky was that they did not want another first round dispatch after what happened in last year’s tournament (lost to KU as a #16 seed)

6. UCLA vs. 11. Virginia Commonwealth

– Another major upset alert: Beware of the Commonwealth. UCLA has made the Final Four the past three years (2006-08), but I see them not even getting past the Rams of VCU. Last year VCU upset Duke, and they are definitely capable of pulling off another huge upset. Sure the Bruins have Darren Collison and Josh Shipp, but the Rams have a game changer in Eric Maynor. This kid is averaging 22.4 points and dishing out 6.2 assists per game, and he is a terrific 3-point shooter (36%). I expect a close game, but I’m rollin with VCU on the upset.

3. Villanova vs. 14. American

– I feel bad for American, simply because they have to essentially play a road game on a “neutral site”. Come on, we all know that Villanova plays their high-profile games at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia, so they are essentially playing a home game in the tournament. Talk about getting lucky. Just because of the advantage at home, I’m going with ‘Nova. Reynolds and Cunningham playing in front of the crowd will just motivate them to breeze to the Sweet 16.

7. Texas vs. 10. Minnesota

– How Minnesota (and Michigan) got in, I will never guess, but like Wisconsin, they are here, so let’s just get into the match up. The matchup I’m looking forward to the most is Dexter Pittman vs Ralph Sampson. Two Big Men just going at it and another good matchup will be Lawrence Westbrook vs.  A.J. Abrams. At the end of the day, Texas has more depth, and they will win the game.

2. Duke vs. 15. Binghamton

– The Bearcats are in their first tournament ever, and I think they will give Duke and early run, but Duke is playing in Greensboro, and Coach K will not have another VCU-like game last year.  The Blue Devils are a hot and cold team yes, but Gerald Henderson is a game changer.  His ability to fly through the air and make highlight-reel dunks and his leadership, and his outside shooting is a key. I do want to see how he will matchup with Binghamton’s leading scorer, D.J. Rivera. At the end of the day, Singler and Scheyer are just going to be too much and Binghamton will be too much in awe of being in the tournament to focus on winning.  Duke hands down.

Stay tuned tomorrow for the final region of matchups on TSX as we break down the South region.

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Bracket Series pt. 2 (West Region)

Bracket Series 2- West Region

By: Dwayne D.

So yesterday, we took a look at the Midwest Region in the first part of the Bracket Series, today we are going out west to take a look at the Midwest Region. Here are the first round matchups.

1. Connecticut vs. 16. Chattanooga

– UConn has Big East co-Player of the Year Hasheem Thabeet, A.J. Price, Jeff Adrien, and a huge supporting cast that can get up and down the court, and play good solid defense. Thabeet is a blocking machine, and even when he is either out or in foul trouble, the game does not change too much. Although the Mocs are 27-4 entering the tournament, the SoCon champs have three solid scorers in Stephen McDowell, Nicchaeus Doaks, and Kevin Goffney. Unfortunately for them, they got an unlucky draw. I expect this to be the closest 1 vs 16 game, but I will not be surprised if it’s a UConn runaway

8. BYU vs. 9. Texas A&M

– BYU is one of the toughest teams out of the Mountain West Conference. These guys won a share of the Mountain West regular season championship ( along with Utah and New Mexico.  Lee Cummard (16.8 PPG), Jimmer Fredette (16.2 PPG), and Jonathan Tavernari (15.9 PPG) can all get hot at anytime and can shoot the 3. As for A&M, Josh Carter is the heart and soul of the Aggies, when he goes, this team goes. If BYU can shut him down, it will be a pretty easy day for the Cougars.

5.  Purdue vs. 12. Northern Iowa

– Purdue won the Big Ten championship, and they are riding a nice wave of momentum. Robbie Hummel is one of the tougher players in college hoops, and his heart is what the Boilermakers need in this tournament. I see a good game from the Missouri Valley champion Panthers, but it will be too much Purdue in this one.

4. Washington vs. 13. Mississippi State

– The Huskies won the Pac-10 regular season championship, but struggled down the stretch, and they are facing a Mississippi State team that was not even supposed to be in the tournament, but they played their way through the SEC tournament to secure the automatic bid… Keep an eye on Jarvis Varnado for Mississippi State, if  comes up big like he did in the SEC Tournament, expect an upset win from the Bulldogs.

6. Marquette vs. 11. Utah State

– Marquette is not the same team without Dominic James. The Golden Eagles rotation is already very thin, and with James’ injury, it’s even thinner.  Jerel McNeal, Lazar Hayward, and Wesley Matthews are the guys that make this team go. The good thing for Marquette is that Utah is probably the worst of the 11 seeds, despite their 30-4 record. One player to watch is Gary Wilkinson, who averages 17.1 PPG and 6.9 RPG. Marquette’s experience and toughness will prevail over Stu Morrill’s bunch in this one.

3. Missouri vs 14. Cornell

– This is a potential upset alert, as Cornell has a pretty good player in Ryan Wittman (son of former T’Wolves coach Randy Wittman). The best way to beat Missouri is simply by beating their pressure. However, Mike Anderson has done a phenomenal job with the Tigers and bringing them back to prominence culminating with a Big 12 Tournament championship. Expect DeMarre Carroll to lead the charge for the Tigers as he has done all season. I am going with Mizzou on this one.

7. California vs. 10. Maryland

– This is a major upset alert. I see this as the Hot & Cold matchup because both teams are hot and cold. Greivis Vasquez is the key, if he gets overly emotional, Maryland will lose, but if Jerome Randle continues to produce like he has done all season with his 18 PPG and 46% 3-point shooting, Cal is definitely moving on. It’s all going to depend on which team is hot and which team is cold.

2. Memphis vs. 15. Cal State-Northridge

– The Big West Champions taking on the dominant C-USA Champions. I have a few names here: Evans, Dozier, Anderson, Taggart. Need I say more. Along with the fact that John Calipari is going to motivate this team by talking about how they got snubbed from a #1 seed. Sorry Matadors, but this one is going to Memphis.

Tomorrow in Bracket Series pt. 3, we will go to the other side of the bracket and talk about the East Region, and on Wednesday, the play-in game will be analyzed along with a look of the matchups in the South Region.

Bracket Series pt. 1 (Midwest Region)

Welcome to The Sports eXpress, the new in-depth sports blog where sports will be broken down, analyzed, and opinions are always, always welcome… so sit back, express yourself, and keep it real (but clean)!

Bracket Series 1- Midwest Region

by Dwayne D.

The Brackets are out and in full swing. Today was Selection Sunday, and the field of 65 is here.

We will break down the matchups by region starting for the next four days. We will begin with the Midwest Region.

1. Louisville vs. 16. Alabama State/16. Morehead State

The Cardinals won the tough Big East regular season and conference tournaments. They also received the #1 overall seed. Louisville is balanced, led by Earl Clark, Sanardo Samuels, and Terrence Williams. The sleeper player on this team is Edgar Sosa, who has seen his production go down, but he can go off at any time. This team is deep, and whoever wins between the SWAC Champion Hornets, and the Ohio Valley Champion Eagles… good luck trying to stay in the game.

8. Ohio State vs. 9. Siena

Ohio State was a bubble team all season, and they ended up being on the right side after a good run in the Big Ten tournament, losing to Purdue in the Championship. I give them credit, they played well without David Lighty, and Evan Turner has been the key, along with strong play from Dallas Lauderdale and B.J. Mullens. Siena is an experienced team, who has played the big boys and can run with them. I am picking Siena with the upset over the Buckeyes. Don’t sleep on the Saints.

5. Utah vs. 12 Arizona

– The biggest question is… did U of A deserve to be in the Tournament? My answer at the end of the day: They did. They beat Gonzaga, Kansas, UCLA, Washington, and USC, who are all tourney bound. Did they have a bad road record, yes, but the quality of wins is enough to sway the committee, and I got swayed as well. Utah is a tough, rugged team from the Mountain West, just by beating San Diego State, they knocked the Aztecs right off the bubble. At the end of the day, I’m going to say that Arizona will upset Utah and move on to the second round

4. Wake Forest vs. 13. Cleveland State

– This is a major upset alert. Cleveland State is a very tough team. They play defense, they are scrappy, they are experienced. The close calls against Butler before beating them in the Horizon Championship at Butler’s home court, the famed Hinkel Fieldhouse. I like Cedric Jackson and J’Nathan Bullock to set the tone, and really get physical with Jeff Teague and James Johnson. I’m seeing a 12 vs 13 matchup in the second round.

Now to the bottom half of the bracket

6. West Virginia vs. 11. Dayton

– This will be a toss up… Dayton has been under the radar all season long.  The Flyers play a very deep rotation, with nobody playing more than 30 minutes per game. The Mountaineers have Alex Ruoff, Da’Sean Butler, and Devin Ebanks. Bob Huggins experience in the tournament coaching I think, will propel the Mountaineers over the Flyers and into the second round.

3. Kansas vs. 14. North Dakota State

– The defending National Champions, who many thought would not even be a #3 seed, won the Big 12, but got surprising ousted out of the Tournament. I’m gonna say this. If Bill Self’s bunch has that same kind of play against Baylor, expect a Bison Bummer II (Bucknell Bison beat them in 2005). North Dakota State made the dance in their first official year in D-I, and they are good. Ben Woodside is the heart and soul of this team, they have played together for a long time, as most of the seniors red-shirted just to have this opportunity. I think KU learned from the Baylor loss and will turn their frustrations to avoid a 2nd Bison Bummer.

7. Boston College vs 10. USC

– USC is peaking at the right time… Demar Derozan is playing out of his mind and Daniel Hackett and Taj Gibson are forces to be reckoned with. The Trojans won the Pac-10 Tournament and went from Bubble to Automatic bid. Boston College has heart, and the pulse of this team runs through Tyrese Rice. If I’m USC, I would watch him. He has the capability to take over a game and drop 50 when his team needs him the most. Do not sleep on BC either. This game will depend on if BC gets TOO dependent on Rice, if they have someone else step up, I expect a BC win. if not, USC is coasting on.

2. Michigan State vs. 15. Robert Morris

– Michigan State had a chance to play for the #1 seed, but they ended up choking in the Big Ten Tournament, and had to settle for #2. This team is complete though. Kalin Lucas and Raymar Morgan are the dynamic duo of the squad, and then Durrell Summers is the Highlight reel for this team. He can make some momentum-boosting and ego-crushing dunks. Robert Morris is making their first appearance in the NCAA Tournament since 1992. I wish them the best of luck, but Tom Izzo will have his team ready.

Stay Tuned tomorrow for part 2 of the Bracket Series, as we break down the West Region Matchups.

D