Four observations about the West Region

1. #11 Utah State looks like a sneaky smart pick against #6 Marquette.
The Golden Eagles are just 1-5 after losing Dominic James, their fourth-leading scorer and best playmaker, for the rest of the season. Granted, those five losses were to UConn, Louisville, Pittsburgh, Syracuse and Villanova, and they only lost by an average of 7.2 points, but Marquette has to travel to Boise to face #25-ranked Utah State, who had a 19-game winning streak this season. The Golden Eagles better account for Gary Wilkinson and Jared Quayle, who make up one of the best inside-outside combinations west of the Mississippi.

2. The committee didn’t do Mississippi State any favors.
Congratulations on winning the SEC tournament, Bulldogs! Now we need you to make the 2000 mile-trip to Portland, Oregon by Thursday, where you’ll play the Pac-10 champions in their neighboring state. Good luck, and enjoy the Pacific Northwest!

3. UConn shouldn’t be seriously challenged until the Elite Eight, but this is UConn we’re talking about.
If the Huskies come out with a singular focus, no team on their side of the bracket should be able to keep up. Washington, Purdue and BYU are nice teams, but they don’t have the star power or coaching experience of the Huskies. Nor do they have anyone to matchup with Hasheem Thabeet on the inside. However, UConn is known for having tournament ADHD, so its entirely possible that one or more of these teams make the Huskies sweat late into the second half.

4. Missouri/Memphis should be a good one.
The Utah State/Marquette winner could easily give Mizzou a run, and Memphis might be challenged by the winner of the Cal/Maryland game, but if the Tigers face the…um…the other Tigers in the Sweet Sixteen, it’ll be a nice matchup. Memphis hasn’t played a good team since early February (when they blew out Gonzaga in Spokane) and Missouri just won the Big 12 tourney in convincing fashion. Both teams are stellar defensively, but Mizzou has an advantage on offense with DeMarre Carroll and Leo Lyons on the front line.

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