Breaking Down The Brackets: West Region
Number 1 seed Duke Blue Devils:
Why they can win the Region:
The defending Nationals Champions have one of the easier roads this year for a number 1 seed and they have the talent to make a serious run. With freshman pg Kyrie Irving looking to make a return in the tournament the Blue Devils got that much scarier. Duke has great outside shooting and are a team chalk full of former McDonald’s All-Americans. While they don’t rely on their inside men too much for scoring Ryan Kelly and the Plumlee brothers have the size to be dangerous inside. Given their experience, easy road and talent it is hard not to put the Dukies in the Final Four.
Why they can’t win the Region:
While Duke’s record and talent level are impressive, remember this is a team that feasted on a weak ACC (yet still had 3 conference losses) and a weaker non-conference schedule. Although Kansas State and Michigan State were ranked in the top 10 at the time, neither team was really at that high level. And yes Marquette and Butler are tourney teams, but both were reeling from the loss of their star player moving on from last season.
What’s also troubling is the fact that Duke did not play its best basketball away from Cameron Indoor Stadium, and they will need to head out west to Anaheim if they want to take this region.
Although Duke has the star talent, I think they could hit a wall in this tournament as by and large they will face teams tougher than the majority of their opponents in the regular season.
Number 2 seed San Diego State:
Why they can win the region:
San Diego State might not be a household name, but they are an extremely good team. They have excellent size and strength and are very good at going to the basket and inside shooting. They play tough defense and rely heavily on their superior athletic ability to force turnovers. The Aztecs are also a very experienced team, so I’d expect them to do well in pressure situations. I also think the bottom of the bracket is pretty favorable for them, and they should make it to the Elite Eight, fairly easily.
Why they won’t win the region:
Although San Diego State is a good team in their own right, but they will face much better competition throughout this tournament. UConn is going to be a tough matchup in the Sweet 16, and getting (in all likelihood) either Duke or Texas in the Elite Eight could be too much for the Aztecs to handle. San Diego State could also be in trouble if they face off against a hot shooting 3 point team. While the Aztecs have a couple shooters, they really don’t have the ability to go shot for shot with their opponents.
Best Player in the Region:
PG Kemba Walker, Connecticut
I know Duke has their fair share of stars, but no one in this region means more to his team than Walker. Walker has carried a young Connecticut team all season, and has come up with clutch shot after clutch shot. Walker was by far the Huskies leading scorer, with a 23.1 average. He was among the team leaders in rebounds, assists and steals. Walker lead the way for the Huskies to do the unthinkable, winning 5 games in 5 days (4 against ranked opponents) to win the Big East Championship. If the rest of the Huskies are up for the challenge Walker could lead them on a run deep into this tournament as well.