2009 NCAA Tournament Preview - West

Instead of just listing my NCAA Tournament picks as I've done every year, I've decided to preview every team in the Big Dance. I'll tell you why to love them, why to hate them, and how far they can go.

While college basketball isn't my forte, I've gotten six of the past eight Final Four correct. I didn't have much luck in the early rounds last year, but I did very well in 2007.

Ryan West, who runs the Bracketology thread in the fourms, will also list his thoughts on each squad. His picks will be listed below mine, so you have two references to guide you as you're filling out your bracket.

2009 NCAA Tournament Preview - West

  1. Connecticut (27-4)

    WHY TO LOVE: Hasheem Thabeet. He's a 7-3 impenetrable defensive force. This year, Thabeet has developed an offensive game, averaging 13.6 ppg and 10.8 rpg.

    Thabeet is complemented by dynamic point guard A.J. Price. Not only did Price average 13.3 ppg and 4.6 apg, he also shot 42.2 percent from long range. As a whole, Connecticut hits 36 percent from three.

    Connecticut was 9-1 on the road this season, losing only at Pittsburgh.

    WHY TO HATE: The Huskies aren't at full strength. They lost starting guard Jerome Dyson (13.2 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 3.2 apg, 34.8 3PT) to a season-ending knee injury.

    RYAN'S TAKE: Connecticut is a team that takes advantage at the free throw line. This is a big problem coming into tournament play. For one, they aren't that great at the charity stripe (67%). Another thing is that they have shot a lot of free throws. If they run into a team that doesn't shoot a lot of free throws or doesn't foul much, they could be in trouble. They don't shoot a lot of 3-point shots, and are missing their best perimeter player. They do play great defense and have some leaders in Price and Thabeet. If a team can attack Thabeet and get him in foul trouble, UConn is in big trouble.

    Outlook: Sweet 16/Elite 8

    THE VERDICT: Nothing's a guarantee, but prior to Dyson's injury, I considered Connecticut a near-lock to go to the Final Four. That's now in doubt. Still, the Huskies are really talented and still could be dancing on the final weekend of the NCAA Tournament.

  2. Memphis (31-3)

    WHY TO LOVE: Memphis' top scorer is 6-6 freshman guard Tyreke Evans (16.9 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 3.7 apg), but that doesn't mean that the Tigers are an underclassman-laden squad. In fact, their other five leading scorers are upperclassmen, including Robert Dozier (12.9, 6.9 rpg), Antonio Anderson (10.5 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 4.2 apg) and Doneal Mack (8.9 ppg), all of whom played a vital role in the team's run last year.

    The Tigers lost a few games early, but they went into Tennessee and Gonzaga, and came out with victories in the middle of the season. In fact, they haven't been defeated since Dec. 20.

    WHY TO HATE: Since beating Gonzaga on Feb. 7, Memphis has played all conference games. The problem is their conference stinks. One would think their schedule wouldn't prepare them for a run in the NCAA Tournament, but this wasn't a factor last year.

    RYAN'S TAKE: What a job John Calipari has done. He lost his top three players from his national runner-up team, and he has had his fourth consecutive 30-win season. He has another freshman point guard in Evans who hasn't lost as point guard. Memphis does well in offensive rebounding, taking care of the basketball, and competing with Louisville for best defense in the nation. If they play a team that turns the ball over a lot, they will win easily. Problems I have with them is that they rely too much on free throws, don't shoot well from the 3-point line, don't use a deep bench, and have a freshman point guard, even though that didn't matter last year. They could pose a problem for a young backcourt, but depending on their matchup, they could be bounced out.

    Outlook: Upset Alert

    THE VERDICT: I don't think Memphis is going to win the title, but I wouldn't be surprised at all if it makes it to the Final Four. An Elite Eight appearance is certainly very probable.

  3. Missouri (28-6)

    WHY TO LOVE: Experience. Missouri's top three scorers are seniors. The fourth is a junior.

    The Tigers also have a very deep bench. If their starters get into foul trouble, they have the reserves to keep them afloat.

    Matt Lawrence doesn't miss from deep. The 6-7 guard hit 41.7 percent of his long-range shots.

    WHY TO HATE: Missouri beat Kansas at home, but they lost the rematch, 90-65. They also went down at Texas A&M, 96-86. Are the Tigers good enough to beat a top-notch team away from home? I'm not so sure.

    RYAN'S TAKE: This team could do some damage in the tourney. They are senior-led. They are very athletic. They take care of the ball. One thing bothers me though. Every time I watch them play, they never seem to impress. They score a lot of points, rebound well, force a lot of turnovers, but they do rely on a lot on free throws. This team is either going to make a deep run or lose in the first weekend. They can beat teams on athleticism alone.

    Outlook: Sweet 16/Elite 8

    THE VERDICT: The Tigers have the talent, depth, size and experience to make a deep run. An Elite Eight appearance is definitely possible.

  4. Washington (25-8)

    WHY TO LOVE: Washington has three players who averaged more than 14.5 points per game, including guard Justin Dentmon (15.3 ppg) and 6-7 forward Jon Brockman (14.8 ppg, 11.5 rpg), both of whom are seniors. Dentmon is an excellent three-point shooter at 43.2 percent.

    The Huskies were 6-4 on the road this year, but won at 22-8 Arizona State by 13.

    WHY TO HATE: Having a point guard named Isaiah Thomas is supposed to be a good thing. And it was for the Huskies during the season. Thomas averaged 15.4 ppg, 2.9 rpb and 2.6 apg. The problem? Thomas is a freshman, making the Huskies a violator of Rule No. 1 of the NCAA Tournament Credo. Thomas had more turnovers than assists this year.

    RYAN'S TAKE: I think the Huskies are one of the most underrated teams in the country. They have balanced scoring, play great defense, rebound well, maintain a deep bench, are battle tested and have playmakers. Jon Brockman is very efficient in the post and I would love to see him go head to head against Pitt's DeJuan Blair. The things that bother me about this team are: they shoot a lot more free throws than their opponents, they only have one consistent 3-point shooter, and they have a freshman point guard (even though he won Freshman of the Year in the Pac 10). This team will do well as long as they can continue getting to the free throw line.

    Outlook: Elite 8/Final Four

    THE VERDICT: I'd like the Huskies if they didn't have a freshman point guard - especially one who had more turnovers than assists in the regular season. Still, they should be able to get out of the first weekend.

  5. Purdue (25-9)

    WHY TO LOVE: Guard E'Twaun Moore, and forwards JaJuan Johnson and Robbie Hummel all averaged more than 12 points per game. Hummel hit 37.4 percent of his threes.

    Purdue plays excellent defense; it limited the opposition to 59 points per game in the regular season.

    WHY TO HATE: Purdue's top three scorers are sophomores. I wouldn't consider any of them blue-chip prospects, so I don't think their talent can overcome their inexperience like Memphis did last year.

    The Boilermakers were just 5-5 on the road. The five victories came at Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Northwestern and Ball State. Only the Gophers finished with more than 20 regular-season victories.

    This team averaged just 69.3 points per game. That's over the slop threshold in my NCAA Tournament Credo, but I'd be scared to back this team regardless. While Purdue has eluded Rule No. 5 in the Credo, they're guilty of Rule No. 1. You don't want to back a freshman point guard unless he's an extremely gifted player. Call me crazy, but I don't think Lewis Jackson (5.7 ppg, 3.4 apg) belongs in the company of Mike Conley and Derrick Rose.

    RYAN'S TAKE: They aren't "babies" anymore. Last year, CBS ate up that nickname because they were all freshman and playing out of their minds. Well, not anymore. Purdue hasn't been completely healthy all year but they have struggled down the stretch. They have a freshman point guard and a couple of sophomores. Chris Kramer is probably the best perimeter defender in the nation. Don't believe me? Check out the Purdue-Davidson game and look how many points Stephen Curry had. They don't allow a lot of 3-point shots, play intense defense, and most importantly, Robbie Hummel is finally healthy. Purdue is a team that can make a serious run in the tournament.

    Outlook: Sweet 16/Elite 8

    THE VERDICT: The Boilermakers are a young team with a freshman point guard that is prone to going through long scoreless stretches. This is the type of team you don't want to back in the NCAA Tournament.

  6. Marquette (24-9)

    WHY TO LOVE: Marquette is led by three upperclassmen: Jerel McNeal (19.8 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 3.9 apg), Wesley Matthews (18.6 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 2.5 apg) and Lazar Hayward (16.2 ppg, 8.5 rpg). They also shoot threes very well (McNeal 40.3; Matthews 39.2; Hayward 34.8).

    The Golden Eagles finished 6-5 on the road.

    WHY TO HATE: Starting point guard Dominic James is out. Since James left the lineup, Marquette has compiled a 1-5 record, beating only pathetic St. John's.

    RYAN'S TAKE: This team has two very good guards in McNeal and Matthews. They play good defense and can score a lot of points all at the same time. The thing that jumps out at me the most about the Golden Eagles is that they have shot 300 more free throws than their opponents. They also use only one guy on their bench consistently. They don't have their playmaker in James at the point. I don't know if this team can win close games without him there. If a team can get them in foul trouble, they could be in serious trouble. But they do force a lot of turnovers and rebound well. Their offense has taken a hit without James there, and that could be a deciding factor.

    Outlook: 2nd Round Exit/Sweet 16

    THE VERDICT: How can a team make it out of the first weekend without its starting point guard? Marquette had trouble doing that in the past with James in the lineup.

  7. California (22-10)

    WHY TO LOVE: Cal has great, experienced guard play and outstanding three-point shooters - exactly what you look for in a Cinderella. Jerome Randle (18.4 pg, 5.0 apg) runs the point incredibly and nails 46.7 percent of his threes. The shooting guard, Patrick Robinson, averaged 14.6 ppg and drained 38.7 percent of his treys. The best shooter of the bunch, Theo Robertson, connected on 49.5 percent of his long-distance attempts. He also averaged 12.8 ppg.

    While the Golden Bears were just 6-6 on the road this year, they had some impressive wins, including victories at Washington, Utah and UNLV.

    WHY TO HATE: While I mentioned some great road victories Cal had, it also had some shady defeats. How did they lose to Oregon State twice?

    Being a guard-oriented team, Cal doesn't rebound the ball especially well. They're not inept or anything, but they'll get into trouble in the later rounds.

    RYAN'S TAKE: The California Bears seem to a bit underrated because they play out West. They didn't win very many road games and don't seem to rebound very well. They do have good guard play though. One stat that jumps out at me is that Cal shoots about 44 percent from three. If they are matched against a team that allows a lot of threes, they will shoot them out of the gym.

    Outlook: 2nd Round Exit

    THE VERDICT: I like Cal, and I wouldn't be scared to have them advance to the Sweet 16. Unfortunately, they're going to run into a team with great size and outstanding guard play eventually.

  8. BYU (25-7)

    WHY TO LOVE: The Cougars have three players who scored 16 or more during the regular season: senior Lee Cummard (17.1 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 3.2 apg), Jonathan Tavernari (16.1 ppg, 7.2 rpg) and Jimmer Fredette (16.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 4.3 apg).

    Cummard (40.0 3PT), Tavernari (37.7), Fredette (38.0), Jackson Emery (38.1)... they all shoot threes. As a whole, the team hits 38.2 percent from beyond the arc.

    WHY TO HATE: BYU played Wake Forest close (94-87), but the Cougars were favored in that contest. They don't have any marquee victories outside of the Mountain West.

    RYAN'S TAKE: The Cougars seem like a good team to pick to make a run. They have three good scorers, take care of the basketball, and don't have a freshman point guard. They shoot very well from three, don't rely on free throws, and are a good rebounding team.

    Outlook: Cinderella Watch

    THE VERDICT: It wouldn't surprise me if the Cougars made a run to the Sweet 16. They have the shooting and scoring consistency to get past the first round and pull off an upset in the second.

  9. Texas A&M (23-9)

    WHY TO LOVE: Experience. Texas A&M's top four scorers are all upperclassmen, though only one is a senior.

    The Aggies finished the regular season on a six-game winning streak, beating Missouri by 10 in the finale.

    Texas A&M has a pair of dynamic three-point shooters. Leading scorer Josh Carter (40.8 percent) and B.J. Holmes (43.1) seldom miss.

    WHY TO HATE: Texas A&M is 5-5 on the road, but none of those five victories came against NCAA Tournament teams.

    There really is no dynamic go-to scorer on this squad. Whom will the Aggies go to in the clutch? Carter led all scorers with 14 ppg.

    RYAN'S TAKE: A&M has a very balanced offense and some very good guards. They are senior-led and have a deep bench. They've played their road games very tough and have beaten some very good teams. They take care of the basketball, but don't force very many turnovers. They have shot almost 300 more free throws than the other team and aren't very consistent on the defensive side of the ball. This team will be done on the first weekend.

    Outlook: 2nd Round Exit

    THE VERDICT: I'm always wary of taking teams that lack a consistent go-to option. The Aggies may have problems winning a single game in the tournament.

  10. Maryland (20-13)

    WHY TO LOVE: Greivis Vasquez is one of the better players in the NCAA Tournament; the 6-6 junior guard averaged 17.2 ppg, 5.5 rpg and 5.1 apg this season. Four of Maryland's top five scorers are upperclassmen.

    WHY TO HATE: As good as Vasquez is, I feel as though he takes too many bad shots. Vasquez has attempted 191 three-pointers this season, and hit only 31.9 percent of them.

    Maryland was a pathetic 2-6 on the road, making them clear violators of Rule No. 4 of the NCAA Tournament Credo.

    RYAN'S TAKE: Maryland has two outstanding players in Vasquez and Landon Millborne. The biggest issue with them is that outside of them, they really don't have anyone else. They do get solid production from their bench and they are one of the best free throw-shooting teams in the country. They don't rebound well and allow a lot of 3-point shots. They do force a ton of turnovers and take care of the basketball. This team could bid for an upset in the first round. If they keep playing how they are, they could go to the Sweet 16.

    Outlook: Upset Alert/2nd Round Exit

    THE VERDICT: With a 7-9 record in ACC and a 2-6 road mark, I'm not sure Maryland belongs in the Big Dance. I'm not sure if the Terps can get by California, let alone Memphis in Round 2.

  11. Utah State (30-4)

    WHY TO LOVE: Utah State's dynamic three-point shooting is going to drive an opposing coach insane. Jared Quayle (38.2 3PT), Tyler Newbold (40.1), Stavon Williams (43.8), Pooh Williams (38.8) and Jaxon Myaer (38.6) are all dangerous from deep.

    In addition to the outside threats, the Aggies have Gary Wilkinson, a 6-9 forward, who averaged 17.1 ppg and 6.9 rpg.

    WHY TO HATE: For a mid-major, Utah State is really inexperienced. Of its top eight scorers, only one is a senior, four are sophomores and one is a freshman.

    The Aggies' top victory is against Utah. They lost to Saint Mary's and BYU. Other than that, they haven't played anyone - hence, their inflated record.

    RYAN'S TAKE: I watched the Aggies play their WAC Championship against Nevada. All the announcers talked about were the age of all their players. They all have gone on sabbaticals and are all about 2 years older than their class. I think consistency is a huge thing with them. If a team can disrupt that consistency, they will struggle mightily. Utah State's offense runs through senior forward Gary Wilkinson. Other than him, they really don't play with any other seniors. They do go nine deep on their bench and get some good minutes and production from them. They don't turn the ball over but also don't force turnovers. They shoot very well from the arc, but so do their opponents. They share the ball well but all of their losses have come on the road. Outlook: Cinderella Watch/2nd Round Exit

    THE VERDICT: Watch for this team in 2010 and 2011. They're going to be good. This year, I feel as though they're untested and way too inexperienced. They have the shooting to win a game, but getting out of the first weekend could be tough.

  12. Northern Iowa (23-10)

    WHY TO LOVE: Northern Iowa began the year with a 6-6 record, so the team finished at 17-4. That said, all four losses came in mid-February, so despite the fact that the Panthers won their conference tournament, you can't say they're playing great basketball right now.

    Ali Farokhmanesh takes tons of threes - and makes them. Farokhmanesh nailed 38 percent of his treys during the season.

    WHY TO HATE: Northern Iowa scored 67.7 ppg during the season, which means it violated Rule No. 5 in the NCAA Tournament Credo. The team's leading scorer averaged just 12.3 ppg. With no real go-to guy, the Panthers could struggle down the stretch.

    The Panthers are young. You have to go to their seventh-leading scorer to find a senior.

    RYAN'S TAKE: I'll just put it out there. I don't think this Northern Iowa team will do very well. They don't seem athletic and they don't score a lot of points. The Valley was down this year from top to bottom, and they weren't even supposed to be this good. They do have some good bench role players, but at the end of the day, I see a first-round exit.

    Outlook: One and Done

    THE VERDICT: Northern Iowa is young and a bit offensively challenged. Getting out of the first round will be tough for them.

  13. Mississippi State (23-12)

    WHY TO LOVE: Jarvis Varnado is a beast. He led the team in scoring (13.1 ppg) and rebounding (9.0). Most importantly, the 6-9 junior broke Shaquille O'Neal's single-season blocks record in the SEC. Varnado had more blocks this season than more than 300 individual teams had as a whole!

    Thanks to Varnado's inside presence, Mississippi State has four solid outside shooters: Barry Stewart (37.1 3PT), Ravern Johnson (40.7), Phil Turner (37.5) and Riley Benock (36.4).

    WHY TO HATE: Mississippi State violates two rules in my NCAA Tournament Credo. First, the team has a freshman point guard (Dee Bost). Second, Mississippi State exerted way too much energy winning the SEC Tournament. I believe they will suffer the same fate as the 2006 Syracuse squad that used all of its energy to win the Big East Tournament.

    RYAN'S TAKE: This team just got done making a huge run in their conference tournament to go dancing. That in itself raises a huge flag. Not only that, but they shoot a lot more free throws than their opponents and they turn the ball over more than their foes. They do have a force in the middle with Varnado (who leads the nation in blocked shots).

    Outlook: One and Done/2nd Round Exit

    THE VERDICT: A lot of people are picking Mississippi State to upset Washington. I don't buy it.

  14. Cornell (20-9)

    WHY TO LOVE: Cornell hits threes. No, really. As a team, the Big Red hit 41.5 percent from long range. Ryan Wittman (41.9 percent), Louis Dale (38.5), Geoff Reeves (41.7) and Chris Wroblewski (44.9) are going to cause major headaches for whomever they draw in the first round.

    Cornell is an upperclassman-laden squad. In fact, you have to go to its sixth-leading scorer to find an underclassman.

    WHY TO HATE: The Ivy League champ hasn't won an NCAA Tournament game in years. Perhaps that's because the conference doesn't have a tournament of its own.

    Living and dying entirely by the three will cause you to lose some strange games. Sub-.500 Princeton debacled Cornell, 61-41 on Feb. 6. Cornell also lost to Yale by 12; craptastic Indiana by 15; and St. John's by 11.

    RYAN'S TAKE: Ah, I love the Ivy League. Cornell doesn't have any low-post guys or use their bench well. They shoot the best percentage from the arc at almost 42 percent. This team could keep it close for a while, but in the end I see them losing. They do have a great player in Wittman. If he gets hot, watch out.

    Outlook: One and Done

    THE VERDICT: I don't think I've ever picked an Ivy League team to win an NCAA Tournament game. That's not going to change.

  15. CS-Northridge (16-13)

    WHY TO LOVE: CS-Northridge is 11-3 in its previous 14 games. This is amazing, as two of its top three scorers, including its starting point guard, have been out.

    WHY TO HATE: Where is the offense going to come from? As noted, Deon Tresvant (13.3 ppg) and Josh Jenkins (10.2 ppg, 6.1 apg) are both out.

    The Matadors were just 5-11 on the road this year. They also took on Stanford and UCLA, and weren't even close.

    RYAN'S TAKE: The Matadors are very balanced offensively, but they turn it over too much. I just don't think they could compete for all 40 minutes against a high seed and pull off the upset.

    Outlook: One and Done

    THE VERDICT: Four No. 15 seeds have won in NCAA Tournament history. The Matadors don't have the firepower to become the fifth.

  16. UT-Chattanooga (18-16)

    WHY TO LOVE: Stephen McDowell is a dynamic player; the senior guard averaged 18.6 ppg and 3.4 rpg, and hit 43.4 percent of his threes.

    McDowell is joined by forwards Nicchaeus Doaks (13.9 ppg, 8.7 rpg) and Kevin Goffney (13.3 ppg, 6.9 rpg).

    WHY TO HATE: UT-Chattanooga just 5-10 on the road, meaning they violate Rule No. 4 in the NCAA Tournament Credo. They lost away contests against the likes of Elon, West Carolina, Furman and Appalachian State. The Mocs battled six tough opponents at the beginning of the season: Tennessee, Missouri, Memphis, USC, Davidson and Alabama. They lost those games by: 39 28, 12, 27, 5 and 19, respectively. To be fair, Chattanooga didn't have Goffney for the five double-digit losses.

    Chattanooga surrendered 76 points per game during the regular season, ranking them 10th out of 12 in the SoCon.

    RYAN'S TAKE: Oh how people wish we had Davidson in the NCAA Tournament. Chattanooga had a very good year and they score a lot of points. The Mocs shoot a lot of threes, but allow a lot of threes. They also have shot the most free throws in the nation. I don't think they stand a chance to take down a high seed.

    Outlook: One and Done

    THE VERDICT: The Mocs couldn't beat West Carolina, Furman or Appalachian State on the road. How are they supposed to knock off one of the top teams in the country?

2009 NCAA Tournament Picks - West

Walt's 2009 NCAA Tournament Picks:

#1 Connecticut over #16 UT-Chattanooga
Terrell Owens went to UT-Chattanooga. Maybe they should bring him back to play in this game. He could contribute a lot - he'd yell at everyone, accuse some players of being gay and park in the coach's parking space.

#8 BYU over #9 Texas A&M
These teams battled each other in the first round last year. BYU avenges the loss here; A&M lacks a consistent scoring option.

#5 Purdue over #12 Northern Iowa
Can't see this one being the 12-over-5 upset. Northern Iowa is too young and offensively challenged.

#4 Washington over #13 Mississippi State
I'd like to see this Mississippi State team make some noise, but they have a freshman point guard and used all of their energy in the SEC Tournament.

#6 Marquette over #11 Utah State
If Utah State had more experience, I'd take them; most of the team's players are freshmen and sophomores.

#3 Missouri over #14 Cornell
Maybe Cornell can challenge Missouri to a math quiz after the game so they can feel good about themselves.

#7 California over #10 Maryland
Apparently all chalk for me in the first round in this bracket. Maryland has two road victories this year. I don't trust them.

#2 Memphis over #15 CS-Northridge
Hopefully Memphis shows up drunk so this game will be interesting.

#1 Connecticut over #8 BYU
No. 1 seeds almost always advance to the Sweet 16. Don't go against that trend.

#4 Washington over #5 Purdue
Two freshmen point guards battle each other. I think the Huskies are the better team; Purdue averaged just 69 points per game.

#3 Missouri over #6 Marquette
I can't see a team missing its point guard keeping up with the fast-paced Missouri Tigers.

#2 Memphis over #7 California
California shoots the three really well, but Memphis' defense will lock them down.

#1 Connecticut over #4 Washington
I hate the fact that Washington has a freshman point guard. Isaiah Thomas is a good player, but freshman floor-generals seldom fare well in the NCAA Tournament... and I don't know if I'd put Thomas on the same level as Mike Conley or Derrick Rose. Connecticut wins the Husky Bowl.

#2 Memphis over #3 Missouri
Missouri struggled to beat top-tier opponents on the road, and that scares me. Memphis returns a good amount of players from its national championship run, so I'd favor them over Missouri. Memphis wins the Tiger Bowl.

#2 Memphis over #1 Connecticut
Enough with this stinkin' chalk! Connecticut is going to miss Jerome Dyson here because Memphis' defense will put the clamps on A.J. Price. The Huskies' recent early exits also bother me.

Ryan's 2009 NCAA Tournament Picks:

#1 Connecticut over #16 UT-Chattanooga
I think Chattanooga can keep this close, but in the end UConn will just out-muscle them. Huskies by 10.

#8 BYU over #9 Texas A&M
The Cougars are very underrated and I think they can make a run in this tourney. If they can hit their shots beyond the arc, they can beat anyone. Cougars by 15.

#5 Purdue over #12 Northern Iowa
Purdue is playing great basketball and Robbie Hummel is finally healthy. They will win this game pretty easily.

#4 Washington over #13 Mississippi State
ESPN can push this as an upset all they want. I'm not buying it. Washington is a good team. They don't rely on their threes to win games and are very physical. Washington wins by 10.

#11 Utah State over #6 Marquette
Utah State hasn't lost much at all all year and I think Marquette is struggling to win games since Dominic James got hurt. Aggies win by 7.

#3 Missouri over #14 Cornell
Missouri wins this game hands down. Cornell is not a good basketball team.

#7 California over #10 Maryland
Maryland allows a lot of three-point field goals. California shoots very well from three. Put those two things together and you get a Bears win. California by 13.

#2 Memphis over #15 CS-Northridge
Northridge already doesn't take care of the ball, and combine that with the fact that Memphis plays the best defense in the country... this game will be a blowout.

#8 BYU over #1 Connecticut
The Cougars are a team that doesn't rely on inside scoring. That takes away the Huskies' biggest threat in Hasheem Thabeet. Cougars win in the upset.

#4 Washington over #5 Purdue
This is the hardest game for me to pick in the whole tournament. Purdue is playing well, but Washington is my sleeper and is a little more athletic. I think that will be the difference. Huskies by 5.

#3 Missouri over #11 Utah State
I think this game could come down to who has more turnovers. Missouri takes care of the ball and forces turnovers, Utah State only takes care of the ball. I think Missouri disrupts Utah State's consistency and wins.

#2 Memphis over #7 California
This is another tough game to pick. If California shoots well, it can beat anyone. I think Memphis will do well enough to counteract Cal's smooth shooting. Memphis by 12.

#4 Washington over #8 BYU
This could be a very high-scoring game, and I think the Huskies will end up out top. Huskies by 11.

#3 Missouri over #2 Memphis
Missouri takes great care of the ball and can disrupt another team's offense. Missouri matches up very well with Memphis. I think Memphis is just too young in order to handle all of that pressure. Missouri advances.

#4 Washington over #3 Missouri
The Huskies are one of the few teams that can give Missouri problems. I'd feel more confident about them if they didn't have a freshman point guard. Washington's balance in scoring and good defense allows them to move on to the Final Four.

2009 NCAA Tournament - Other Brackets

2009 NCAA Tournament Picks and Preview - Midwest Bracket

2009 NCAA Tournament Picks and Preview - West Bracket

2009 NCAA Tournament Picks and Preview - East Bracket

2009 NCAA Tournament Picks and Preview - South Bracket

2009 NCAA Tournament Picks and Preview - Final Four

2009 NCAA Tournament References

2009 NCAA Tournament - Stats, Facts, Trends and Tips

2009 NCAA Tournament Credo

College Basketball Picks

2009 NFL Mock Draft

2010 NFL Mock Draft

NBA Picks

2009 Fantasy Football Rankings Coming Soon

Missing Include


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