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Filling Out Your Bracket-Everything You Need To Know: West Region

Posted on 17. Mar, 2010 by Justin Shulman in Tournaments, nba-draft

The NCAA tournament is upon us which means it's time to fill out your brackets and call in sick for Thursday/Friday. It's the best two days in sports. Getting together with the boys, dramatic buzzer beaters, Cinderella's, and Miller Light. It doesn't get any better. But before you finalize your bracket, let Flagrant Fouls fill you in on everything you need to know about each region.

Outside of Syracuse the West region may appear to be the weakest bracket but don't be fooled.  There are a lot of quality teams that viewers just don't get the opportunity to see play on a regular basis.  Kansas State might not be a perrenial powerhouse but Frank Martin has built a great program that just doesn't get enough national attention. It features two guards in Jacob Pullen and Denis Clemente that form one of the best backcourts in America.  Pittsburgh lost it's star players to the NBA but Jamie Dixon has put together a quality ensemble of players you have never heard of.  If not for the season Jim Boeheim had with Syracuse, Dixon would have been coach of the year.  Vanderbilt boasts three excellent all SEC conference players in AJ Ogilvy, Jeff Taylor, and Jermaine Beal.  The Commodores have NBA wing talent and will be no easy out.  The Butler Bulldogs round out the top five seeds boasting four players who score in double digits.  They are led by sharp shooter Gordon Hayward, whose range seems to be anywhere in the gym.  Expect to hear Gordon's name called in the first round of the June's NBA draft.  The West region may be loaded with teams and players we are not familiar with, but don't be the guy in your pool who makes his pick based on a name.

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Everything You Need to Know: East Region

Everything You Need to Know: Midwest Region

Everything You Need to Know: South Region

 

Best First Round Matchup

#12 Utep Miners vs. #5 Butler Bulldogs

The Bulldogs are a very methodical team that is well coached by Brad Stevens.  Butler runs their offense through Gordon Hayward and Matt Howard, who both know how to score even when their shots aren't falling.  Butler scores the majority of their points from beyond the arc and the charity stripe, where the team shoots high percentages.  The Bulldogs struggle with teams that boast athletic frontcourts.  Enter Derrick Caracter.  A ftormer McDonald's All American, DC transfered to Utep from Louisville, where he struggled to fit in with Rick Pittino's regimented program.  He is now older, more mature, and an even better post player.  The Miners run thier entire offense through Caracter and establishing him in the post will be the key to this game.  If Butler, can get Caracter into foul trouble or get in his head, than they will run away with this game.  If DC gets going and opens things up for guard Randy Culpepper, than we might have one of those ever popular 5-12 upsets.

 

Top NBA Draft Prospects

1. Wesley Johnson, Syracuse

2. Solomon Alabi, Florida State

3. Elias Harris, Gonzaga

4. Gordon Hayward, Butler

5. Jeff Taylor, Vanderbilt

6. Chris Singleton, Florida State

7. Matt Bouldin, Gonzaga

8. Kenny Boynton Jr, Florida

9. Rick Jackson, Syracuse

10. Keith Benson, Oakland

 

 Best Player You've Never Heard Of

Jimmer Fredette, BYU

BYU is one of those teams most people start to read about during March.  If you fall into this category, you have surely come across the name Jimmer Fredette.  Let me start by saying that Jimmer is much more than the best player on a team you know little about.  Seven times this season, Fredette has surpassed thirty points with a season high of 49 points on the road in Arizona.  Jimmer's play is reminiscent of a guy who torched BYU in this tournament in 2004 and is now an assistant coach for the top seeded team in this bracket:  Gerry McNamara.  Not the most athletic player on the court but the most dangerous.  Fredette is crafty and finds his way to the rim for floaters and scoop shots.  Don't underestimate what Fredette is capable of as you can rest assure Billy Donovan isn't sleeping well just thinking about it.

 

Potential Cinderella

Oakland Golden Grizzlies

Oakland comes into their first round tilt riding an eleven game win streak and taking twenty of their last twenty-one games.  The Golden Grizzlies won the regular season Summit League conference title and conference tournament.  They feature a nice inside out combo in Keith Benson and Jonathan Jones. Benson averages over 3 blocked shots per game, and Jonathan Jones averages 6.4 assists per game and was the 2008-2009 assist leader in the entire nation.  They square off against the Pittsburgh Panthers out of the big bad Big East conference.  Jamie Dixon deserves all the credit in the world for leading this team to a #3 seed.  Pitt has beaten the likes of Syracuse, West Virginia, Marquette, Louisville and Villanova this season.  But the team philosophy is to share the ball, work in a half court set and eat the shot clot.  Pitt was unimpressive in New York, scoring a measly 45 points in their loss to Notre Dame and they lack the tournament experience that other high seeded teams have.  Because of the offense that the Panthers employ, Oakland is going to have their opportunities to hang around and make their run when Pitt goes cold.  Expect a battle between the two teams trying to dictate pace.  Oakland will make every effort to get into transition and Pitt will do everything in their power to lull us to sleep.  In the end, I like the Golden Grizzlies to become the sixteenth team in the history of the tournament to beat a #3 seed as in the opening round.

 

Best Potential Head to Head Battle

Andy Rautins vs. Matt Bouldin

Not only do both of these players shoot the ball with almost unlimited range but they are also outstanding facilitators who act as pseudo point guards.  One area where Rautins stands out is on the defensive side of the basketball.  Rautins has become one of the most effective zone defenders and has completely changed the culture of Syracuse's patented 2-3 zone.  Rautins will have to extend the zone even further than usual to keep Boldin in check and prevent him from singlehandedly keeping the Zags in the game.  Essentially these players are almost a clone of one another and this matchup could very well be the determining factor in the outcome of the round of 32.

 

Elite 8 Prediction

#1 Syracuse vs. #2 Kansas State

In what seems to be the case in almost every region, the top two seeds are by far the superior teams.  This tournament features about ten teams that are capable of winning the whole thing.  Everyone else is just there to dance.  In the West bracket, Syracuse has the best sixth man in the country in Kris Joseph and the leading assist man off the bench in Scoop Jardine.  Their go-to guy all season has been the open man.  They feature seven players who can go for double digits night in and night out and they possess the most feared defense in the tournament.  Gonzaga and Butler might be trendy picks but at the end of the game Syracuse will be moving on to the Elite 8.  On the lower half of the bracket, Kansas State will prevail and become their opposition.  While I feel that Kansas State is one of the weaker #2 seeds in the draw, they lucked out on their half of the bracket.  Xavier, Pitt and BYU just won't be able to match the intensity of Frank Martin and his Wildcats.  Expect Kansas State to steamroll into the Elite 8 without breaking much of a sweat.

 

Final Four Prediction

Syracuse Orange

The Big 12 has never had much success against Syracuse (just ask Kansas and Texas) due to the fact that the conference as a whole doesn't employ a lot of zone defense.  Kansas State has earned their reputation practising what Frank Martin has preached in that they attack the rim.  No team has protected the rim the way Syracuse has this season so something will have to give.  Denis Clemente and Jacob Pullen have made a living this year creating room for themselves and attacking but they havent seen guards as big, as fast and who can close out the way Brandon Triche, Andy Rautins and Scoop Jardine are able to.  If Clemente and Pullen are at all neutralized by the zone defense than it's going to be a sea of Orange rolling into Indianapolis.  If they can get into the teeth of the zone, and push the tempo off Syracuse misses than they will have a shot.  I expect to see upstate New York dancing all the way to Lucas Oil Stadium.

 

West Region MOP

Andy Rautins, Syracuse

All season Rautins has sat passenger on his teammate Wes Johnson's bus all season.  Johnson has gained all the notoriety and national attention with Naismith Award nominations, Big East Player of the Year awards and a most probable draft slot in the lottery for June's draft.  But Syracuse fans would have a tough time choosing Johnson as the team's MVP.  That is because their captain and fifth year senior leader Andy Rautins is the guy with the keys to Johnson's bus.  Rautins is a lethal shooter who can put the ball on the floor and penetrate, giving Johnson and the rest his crew easy looks.  Rautins led the conference in steals and he anchors the top of the zone for Jim Boeheim's stingy defense.  Whatever the team needs on a given night, Andy steps up and provides the missing link.  Many thought when Andy signed with Syracuse that it was a favour to his father and former Syracuse star Leo.  But Andy has worked hard and proved that he is certainly not a legacy recruit.  Expect the rest of the country to learn who the real MOP is on the Syracuse squad over the next few weeks when winning overshadows statistics.

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Tags: , Andy Rautins, , Denis Clemente, Elias Harris, , , , Jeff Taylor, , , , , , Rick Jackson, Scoop Jardine, ,

3 Responses to “Filling Out Your Bracket-Everything You Need To Know: West Region”

  1. Filling Out Your Bracket - Everything You Need to Know: South Region | Flagrant Fouls 18. Mar, 2010

    [...] Everything You Need to Know: West Region [...]

    Reply to this comment
  2. TopShelfDore 18. Mar, 2010

    Vanderbilt seems to be a popular team to ‘pick against’ in the first round. Especially by those who’ve never even seen them play.

    Don’t be surprised if Vandy is ’still standing’ at ‘Final Four time’ come April. The April Fools will be those who picked VU to lose to Murray State.

    Reply to this comment
  3. JBIRD 18. Mar, 2010

    GO CUSE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Reply to this comment

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