Campus Chatter: Midwest and West Regional Edition

I saw the movie “300” on Sunday night following the selection show and I must say, rather than the useless fact such as “team X is 3-7 lifetime in the First Round,” they should show facts such as “coach X showed his team the movie “300” before their game on Wednesday night.” If that movie doesn’t drive home the point of teamwork and heart, I don’t know what does.

I was wrestling with how to handle the tournament coverage so what I decided to do was just break down the 1st round match-ups of each region and then next week I will go more in-depth with my coverage as more teams are eliminated. Following my bracket complaints, I am going to break down the 1st round match-ups from the Midwest and West brackets today and the East and South brackets on Wednesday.

Quick Bracket Complaints:
-I don’t like to harp too much on who should or should not have gotten in because had teams taken care of business during the regular season, there would be no debate. Having said that, I was shocked to see Syracuse and Kansas State left off the bracket while Texas Tech, Stanford and Illinois were included in the field of 65. The committee stated that Kansas State and Syracuse were left out because most of their conference wins came against weaker opponents but, do they watch any games? Texas Tech, Stanford and Illinois are among some of the weaker at-large teams I have seen in quite some time. Granted now that I said this all three will advance to the Sweet 16 but that is what March Madness is all about I suppose…

-Texas A&M was dealt quite a curveball when it was unveiled that their potential 2nd round match-up versus Louisville will be held just down the road from Louisville in Lexington, KY. That is certainly no way to reward a #3 seed and is similar to a situation a few years ago when #3 Pittsburgh had to play #6 Wisconsin in Milwaukee.

-Shame on both the NCAA and NIT tournaments for excluding the Akron Zips from not one but BOTH fields. Akron was the regular season MAC champion and lost in the MAC finals because of a clock malfunction, yet apparently wasn’t good enough for either tournament. Your guess is as good as mine…

Midwest Region:
New Orleans, LA
#1 Florida vs. #16 Jackson State: Jackson State has an explosive scorer in future NBA shooting guard Trey Johnson but unfortunately they don’t have much else. Florida appears to be clicking on all cylinders again and this one should be rather easy for the Gators
Florida 88 — Jackson State 57

#8 Arizona vs. #9 Purdue: Matt Painter’s Purdue squad is a scrappy team that plays defense and works hard, essentially the opposite of Lute Olsen’s Arizona Wildcats. The ‘Cats have as much talent as anyone in the field but their lack of defense and inconsistency has killed them all season long. If they don’t turn it on now, they never will.
Arizona 79 – Purdue 68

Buffalo, NY
#5 Butler vs. #12 Old Dominion: Butler is a classic case of a team who has been living off of what they did early on in the season. Butler got some great shooting early on in the season and was able to topple a few giants but has looked rather suspect as of late. The #5 seed is way too high for them and Old Dominion, one of the last teams in the field, is just flat out better than they are.
Old Dominion 69 – Butler 62

#4 Maryland vs. #13 Davidson: Stephen Curry and his Davidson Wildcats are just the type of team that can destroy your bracket. Their 29-4 record is no fluke and while Maryland has become a rather trendy pick to make a deep run, I just do not see it. The Terps caught fire late in the season but the absolute egg that they laid against Miami in the ACC tournament is a cause for concern in my book.
Davison 78 – Maryland 74

Spokane, WA
#6 Notre Dame vs. #11 Winthrop: This is arguably one of the best games of the entire first round. I felt as though Notre Dame deserved better than a #6 and Winthrop deserved better than a #11. Winthrop has a lot to prove following their heartbreaking loss to Tennessee last year in the tournament and is certainly grateful of their second chance. This game really could go either way but I’ll go with the Spokane fans rallying around the underdog and give Winthrop the slight advantage.
Winthrop 77 – Notre Dame 75

#3 Oregon vs. #14 Miami (OH): A virtual home game for the Ducks combined with the fact that Miami is not very good just adds up to an easy game for Oregon. Oregon is red-hot following their walk-through of the Pac-10 tournament and should be able to carry some of that momentum into the Sweet 16, if not further.
Oregon 82 – Miami (OH) 67

Chicago, IL
#7 UNLV vs. #10 Georgia Tech: Along with Notre Dame vs. Winthrop, this game is certainly on my “must-watch” list. On my own personal bracket, I flip-flopped quite a few times on this game. UNLV is a veteran-laden squad while Georgia Tech has a ton of young talent that is just starting to put it all together. Either way, expect a close one.
Georgia Tech 71 – UNLV 68

#2 Wisconsin vs. #15 Texas A&M Corpus Christi: Wisconsin comes into this game looking rather vulnerable but should still be alright against the Islanders. This marks Corpus Christi’s first NCAA appearance as the team did not even have a program a few years ago and under the direction of coach Ronnie Arrow, I expect them to return in the near future. The Islanders don’t have the athleticism that will give Wisconsin fits later on in the tournament but I think this will be closer than people expect.
Wisconsin 58 – Texas A&M Corpus Christi 47

West Region:
Chicago, IL
#1 Kansas vs. # 16 Florida A&M or Niagara: For the record, Niagara was absolutely screwed by being inserted into the “Opening Round” game on Tuesday night. Having said that, the Purple Eagles should have an easy time with the Rattlers from A&M before having a not so easy time against the Jayhawks from Kansas. Kansas is on a roll and it will not becoming to a halt in Chicago.
Kansas 91 – Niagara 70

#8 Kentucky vs. #9 Villanova: I am going to go out on a limb here and say that the Wildcats will be victorious. You’ll have to excuse my poor attempt at humor as both schools are known as the Wildcats for those who are unaware. Either way, this should be a battle of two evenly matched teams, if nothing else.
Kentucky 70 – Villanova 64

Columbus, OH
#5 Virginia Tech vs. #12 Illinois: This game would be a lot easier if we knew in advance which Virginia Tech team will be showing up in Columbus. The Hokies are the type of team that could make a deep run or be eliminated in the 1st round and I would not be surprised either way. They are fortunate in that they drew a very mediocre Illinois squad so they should be ok regardless.
Virginia Tech 73 – Illinois 61

#4 Southern Illinois vs. #13 Holy Cross: Two words, de-fense! Holy Cross’ lack of athleticism combined with Southern Illinois’ outstanding defense should prevent this one from being close.
Southern Illinois 61 – Holy Cross 48

Buffalo, NY
#6 Duke vs. #11 Virginia Commonwealth: The one thing Duke needed to avoid was a team with guards who defend, so naturally they are matched up with a team whose guards are great defenders. Don’t be fooled by the name folks, it should be a short stay in Buffalo for Coach K and company, which isn’t exactly a bad thing…
Virginia Commonwealth 77 – Duke 71

#3 Pittsburgh vs. #14 Wright State: Before the season started Pittsburgh was my pick to win the national championship but since no one remembers that, I am allowed to change it. I had planned on picking Wright State to advance to the next round depending on their match-up but I don’t think Pittsburgh is a very good draw for them. If Aaron Gray continues to slump like he did in the Big East tournament, Pittsburgh could be in trouble.
Pittsburgh 71 – Wright State 63

Sacramento, CA
#7 Indiana vs. #10 Gonzaga: Neither team wows me so this one could go either way. Given the fact that the game is being played somewhat close to Gonzaga’s campus as opposed to the cross-country trek for Indiana and I’ll give the Bulldogs a slight advantage. Was that last sentence even English?
Gonzaga 66 – Indiana 60

#2 UCLA vs. #15 Weber State: They might as well have named this regional the “UCLA Invitational.” UCLA has the potential to play 4 games in the state of California before advancing to the Final Four in Atlanta, GA. How exactly is that fair to Kansas? Notice how I haven’t mentioned Weber State yet? There is a reason for that…
UCLA 91 – Weber State 68

Ok folks, be sure to check back tomorrow for Campus Chatter’s coverage of the East and South regions. I am counting down the days until I leave for New Orleans but until then, good luck with your brackets!