Southwest Bracket Preview

Steve O Speak

By Guest Blogger Brian Murphy:

In my earlier two blogs, I wrote about why Kansas and why Notre Dame will win the Southwest Bracket.  In continuing my coverage of this bracket I will pick a sleeper team seeded 5th or lower that I can see doing some damage in the region, the top player in the region, and my picks for the opening round games.

As my sleeper team that I think could make a run in this bracket, my eyes glared to the 6-seed Georgetown Hoyas.  However, as you will see in my picks below, I have Georgetown getting upset in the first round.  So I’m going to take a shot here and pick UNLV.  The 8-seed Runnin’ Rebels started the year out ranked in the top 25 and finished the year 24-8 (11-5) with all those five conference losses coming to conference foes BYU and SDSU.  Before their last lost to SDSU in the conference tournament, UNLV was playing hot and had won six in a row.  They really don’t have one standout star as no player averages more than 13.5 ppg but they know how to use the whole team and spread the ball out.  A key to a potential run is if their bench players can come in and be efficient and do what they’re asked.  UNLV opens up against Illinois which I think should be a victory.  The second round match-up would be the toughest as they’d have to play Kansas (barring an impossible 16 over 1 upset).  If UNLV can make it to the Sweet 16, the possibilities are endless!

The top player in the Southwestern Bracket is Notre Dame’s guard Ben Hansbrough.  The senior is averaging 18.5 ppg, 3.9 rpg, and 4.3 apg for the 2-seeded Irish.  As a Notre Dame fan, I tried to not be biased too much in selecting the best player.  However, when you look at Kansas their top player is a set of them – the Morris brothers.  Therefore, I believe Hansbrough is the best player in the bracket.  He has taken the leadership role for one of the Big East’s best teams and puts them on his back.  Hansbrough’s versatility and 3-point shooting ability make him a nightmare for opponents in the tournament.  Since ND lives and dies by the three ball, Hansbrough has pressure on him to stay hot in every game and be the guy that everyone looks at to take the game-winning shot.  Be sure to check out #23 and the Irish to see how great he really is.

PICKS (Predicted winners in bold)

#1 Kansas vs. #16 Boston U (no brainer there)

#8 UNLV vs. #9 Illinois (UNLV is sneaky scary and Big Ten is not strong)

#5 Vanderbilt vs. #12 Richmond (watch out for those Spiders!  Should be a barn-burner)

#4 Louisville vs. #13 Morehead St. (Cardinals are a very strong and dangerous team)

#6 Georgetown vs. #11 USC/VCU (my upset special – just don’t think G’town has it and those two teams are real good)

#3 Purdue vs. #14 St. Peter’s (Boilermakers steamroll)

#7 Texas A&M vs. #10 Florida St. (will be the closest game of the first round – Chris Singleton will lead the ‘Noles)

#2 Notre Dame vs. #15 Akron (acorn? Irish eyes will be smiling!)

I will continue my coverage of the Southwest Bracket as the tournament progresses.  Happy watching!



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