Bracket Breakdown: NCAA Tournament Predictions: West Region

By: Kels Dayton

Having trouble filling out your bracket? You’ve come to the right place. Roundball‘s college basketball expert Kels Dayton will take you region by region, outlining what’s possible and what’s not, so that you can make informed decisions. Because making informed decisions is the key to winning your pool. And winning your pool is the key to using the prize money to buy a giant, gold-plated sculpture of yourself that hangs triumphantly over your desk and proclaims your bracket domination over everyone in the office.


CRAZY UPSET PICK: If you want to pick one off-the-board, VCU, Butler-style upset that no one ever imagined was possible, take 16th-seeded LIU-Brooklyn to knock off No. 1 Michigan State. Now, be warned: No 16 seed has ever beaten a 1. In fact, 16th seeds are 0-for-108 all-time against No. 1’s. But then again, no team had ever made the type of run VCU made before last season, and no mid-major had ever been within an inch of a national championship the way Butler was in 2010. The tournament is getting crazier and crazier, so why can’t this be the year that the unthinkable happens?

Jamal Olasewere and the Blackbirds will be competitive against Michigan State. (AP Photo)

Just sayin’.

But why LIU?

Well, for staters, the Blackbirds boast a bunch of big, physical, strong athletes who can throw down windmill dunks, chase you all over the court and knock down threes.

Long Island has a potential NBA prospect in the 6-7, 215-pound physical specimen that is Jamal Olasewere (16.8 ppg, 7.5 rpg). And he’s not even the Blackbirds’ best player.

That would be Julian Boyd, a 6-7, 230-pound junior forward from San Antonio, TX, who averages 17.4 points and 9.4 rebounds per game. Both guys could switch jerseys and easily pass as Michigan State forwards. Long Island plays at breakneck speed, and scores the ball with great efficiency. The selection committee made a mistake. This is not a 16th seed.

8-9 GAME: This could go either way, as most 8-9 games are. But Memphis is the smart choice because the Tigers have won 14 of 16 games, and took a stick of dynamite to the rest of the field in winning the Conference USA tournament. Memphis hammered opponents by an average of 18.3 points per game.


 Long Beach State has a great chance to expel New Mexico from the field. The 49ers played the toughest non-conference schedule in America this season, and held their own on the road at North Carolina, Kansas, Louisville, and San Diego State. LBSU also blasted Pittsburgh early in the year before the Panthers went in the tank. The 49ers are led by NBA prospect Casper Ware (5-10, 174 lbs), who averages 17.4 points per game, and senior guard  Larry Anderson isn’t too shabby, either (14.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 3.1 apg).

 There’s no Stephen Curry this time around, but that doesn’t mean that Davidson isn’t capable of knocking off Goliath once again. The 13th-seeded Wildcats defeated Kansas in Kansas City earlier this season and have a very capable scorer in guard De’Mon Brooks, who averages 16 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. Davidson can fill it up, averaging 78.4 points per game which is good enough for 12th in the country. Louisville struggles to score, averaging just 68.6 per (155th in the nation).

 Iona could defeat Marquette if it gets past BYU in the First Four game. The Gaels  have three players who will garner NBA Draft consideration. Senior point guard Scott Machado leads the nation in assists with 10.1 per game, and could be a lottery pick. Guard LaMont ‘Mo Mo’ Jones is an Arizona transfer who helped the ‘Cats destroy Duke in the Sweet 16 last season, and forward Mike Glover leads the Gaels in scoring (18.5 ppg) and rebounding (9.3 rpg). Iona is the nation’s highest-scoring team, averages the most number of assists per game in the nation, and ranks 2nd in field goal percentage. If BYU wins, the Cougars also have the potential to knock out Marquette.

 It would be somewhat surprising if Colorado State took out Murray State, but the Rams are an 11-seed and there seems to be one 11 that bumps off a 6 every season. (N.C. State over San Diego State is a better choice, however.)

Iona's Scott Machado could be the highest player drafted in the West Region. (Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

CINDERELLA TEAMS: This is where it could get crazy. The West is by far the most wide-open region in the bracket, so take big risks here. Iona is capable of making a run to the Sweet 16, and even the Elite Eight because the Gaels have an incredible amount of talent. Long Beach State can knock out Louisville and advance to the Sweet 16, and Memphis is more than capable of bouncing Michigan State in the second round. The Spartans are easily the most vulnerable number 1 seed, and the Tigers have a cacophony of great scorers, led by guards Will Barton (18 ppg, 8 rpg) and Joe Jackson.

FINAL FOUR PICKS: Missouri is the best choice in this region because of the Tigers’ experience and hounding 40-minutes-of-hell defense. They’ve also got crunch-time scorers in seniors Marcus Denmon (17.6 ppg, 5.1 rpg) and Kim English (14.9 ppg, 4.2 rpg). It will be very difficult for Michigan State to keep up with the Tigers’ pace should they meet in the Elite Eight.

The West could get crazy, but you'll survive if you pick Missouri to dodge the chaos and get out of the region. (AP Photo)

Marquette isn’t a bad choice to make a run to the Final Four, although they are small and very reliant on two players–guard Darius Johnson-Odom (18.5 points per game), and big man Jae Crowder (17.4 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 2.1 apg).

Memphis is a very dark horse candidate to get through the region, and Florida is capable of getting there too, as the Gators lost in overtime to Butler in the Elite Eight last season. This is the wildest and toughest-to-predict region in the bracket, so good luck.

That’s why they call it March Madness.

Stats courtesy of

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *