West Region Game by Game Previews – 1st Round (Pt. 1)Posted by rtmsf on March 18th, 2009
West Region – by Ryan ZumMallen of LBPostSports
#1 UConn vs. #16 Chattanooga
We all know what UCONN is capable of, which is nothing short of a National Championship. So get to know the Mocs and their leading scorer Stephen McDowell, who paced Chattanooga with 18.6ppg, shot 43.4% from three, and scored 30 or more in three games this year. The Mocs have two other double-figure scorers besides the 5’11” guard, and pulled off quite the upset just to make it here after finishing fifth in the . UConn looks in supreme control, although that Georgetown loss still worries me. What was up with that anyway, Husky fans?
#8 BYU vs. #9 Texas A&M
The Cougars put together a fine 25-7 season and tied two other teams for a share of the Mountain West title, but lost to San Diego State in the tournament final. BYU certainly has the tools and talent to move on from the first round, but just didn’t have to play the rigorous schedule that A&M did this season. Finishing fourth in the Big XII means more to me than winning a three-way share of the Mountain West. This could turn out to be a hidden gem, as BYU can certainly put up the points with three players averaging over 16.0 per.
vs. #12 Northern Iowa
The hot thing to do right now is pretend you know anything about Northern Iowa. What you should know is that the Panthers can run with the big guns, beating both Auburn and San Diego State before finishing behind only Creighton in the Missouri Valley. They were also crushed mightily by Marquette, so its somewhat of a stretch to think they can open strong against the Big Ten Tourney champion Boilermakers. A healthy Robbie Hummel and a streaking Purdue squad means trouble for the fashionable upset pick.
#4 Washington vs. #13 Mississippi State
This is my upset special, maybe because I think the SEC was underrated this year and maybe because I was extremely disappointed in the Pac-10 this year. Probably both. Regardless, Mississippi State is riding a six-game winning streak and the high of stealing the SEC Tourney championship. Now, Georgia shocked their way into the Tourney last season only to get blown out, and Arkansas did the same thing the year prior. But those teams didn’t have Jarvis Varnardo or freshman point Dee Bost. Washington was a very good team all year long but MSU has the defense to slow down their phenom Isaiah Thomas, and therefore, the Huskies.
#7 California vs. #10 Maryland
This game is being billed as a battle of the minds between Mike Montgomery and , but it’s really more a battle of two talented teams who weren’t able to put things together like they’re capable of doing. Yet. The Golden Bears do not rebound or defend particularly well, which is worrisome. But they’ve got very capable scorers in Jerome Randle and Patrick Christopher. Cal had a pretty cake non-conference schedule, excluding two games (which they lost) against Mizzou and Florida State. Look for the Bears to resume the form they showed in big wins over Arizona State and . I know I said earlier that I was down on the Pac-10 this year, but I’m even more down on teams that lose big games by 41 points and post a losing conference record. I don’t care if it’s the ACC, good teams just don’t let that happen.
vs. #15 Cal St. Northridge
Both teams won their respective conferences by running the floor, relying on their guards for a bulk of the scoring, and getting solid rebounding from their bigs. Memphis, however, does all of these things much, much better than Northridge does. The Matadors have dealt with a lot after the arrest of three players (including their ) in January and a car accident that nearly killed their point guard. None of those players have played since their incidents, and Northridge got by on outbursts from bench players. But they’re playing a Memphis team that could not be hotter, and last year we learned that playing in CUSA doesn’t mean you can’t make the title game.