BRACKET BLOG: West Region

Last call! Final entries of brackets are due by 11 a.m. CST.

Turn 'em in here to enter the eleventeenth annual BOTC Bracket Challenge.

The group ID is 5240 and the password is dobermans.

Then follow the jump for a discussion of the West Region.

It's the one with all the cats. Two sets of Tigers return (Memphis, Missouri) to the region for the second straight year.

We've got Cougars and Wildcats, as well. Kentucky's probably feeling left out at this point.

There's too many Spartans in this region, too. And multiples species of birds. And ... what the hell is a Billiken?

(P.S. I'm doing these out of order because two of the four play-in games fed into the Midwest Region, so I couldn't preview that region until after Wednesday night).

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Previous Entries:

The Teams

  1. Michigan St. Spartans
  2. Missouri Tigers
  3. Marquette Golden Eagles
  4. Louisville Cardinals
  5. New Mexico Lobos
  6. Murray St. Racers
  7. Florida Gators
  8. Memphis Tigers
  9. Saint Louis Billikens
  10. Virginia Cavaliers
  11. Colorado St. Rams
  12. Long Beach St. 49ers
  13. Davidson Wildcats
  14. BYU Cougars
  15. Norfolk St. Spartans
  16. Long Island U. Blackbirds

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The Sites

  • Columbus, Ohio
  • Louisville, Ky.
  • Omaha, Neb.
  • Phoenix, Ariz. (Sweet Sixteen | Elite Eight)
  • Portland, Ore.

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The Breakdown

No. 1 Michigan State (27-7) vs. No. 16 Long Island (25-8)
March 16 | 8:10 p.m. CST | Columbus | TBS
Tim Brando | Mike Gminski

Do I seriously even need to break this one down?

GAMER: MSU 67, LIU 58
Pomeroy: MSU 91, LIU 66
Sagarin: MSU 70, LIU 55

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No. 2 Missouri (30-4) vs. No. 15 Norfolk State (25-9)
March 16 | 1:10 p.m. CST | Omaha | TNT
Marv Albert | Steve Kerr

Yes, Norfolk State almost beat Marquette in the Virgin Islands, but the Spartans also lost to those same Golden Eagles by 31 points earlier in the season.

Missouri will run these guys off the floor. 3-bombs all the way.

GAMER: Mizzou 77, NSU 66
Pomeroy: Mizzou 86, NSU 63
Sagarin: Mizzou 91, NSU 71

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No. 3 Marquette (25-7) vs. No. 14 Brigham Young (26-8)
March 15 | 1:35 p.m. CST | Louisville | CBS
Verne Lundquist | Bill Raftery

Had Iona advanced, I thought the Gaels had the makeup to possibly give Marquette some trouble.

The Cougars? Not so much. Their best bet might be to try to bore the Golden Eagles to death.

Although the projected scores are close and BYU showed some grit the other night, I think Marquette takes this one comfortably. That team will be pissed about how it ended the Big East Tournament and it has things to prove.

GAMER: not available
Pomeroy: Marquette 80, BYU 75
Sagarin: Marquette 87, BYU 83

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UPSET ALERT: No. 4 Louisville (26-9) vs. No. 13 Davidson (25-7)
March 15 | 12:40 p.m. CST | Portland | TBS
Brian Anderson | Dan Bonner

Here's my thinking. Davidson hung with Duke and toppled Kansas, and both those teams have been better over the course of the entire season than Louisville.

Plus, teams coming off conference tournament runs tend to not always have the same level of success in the Big Dance. That goes double for Louisville, a team that has looked downright awful on offense at times.

However, Davidson also nearly didn't get here because it was dragged to overtime by Western Carolina. And Stephen Curry isn't suiting up anymore. Take Louisville. The Cardinals will be wary after falling to a 13 last year.

GAMER: L'ville 63, Davidson 61
Pomeroy: L'ville 71, Davidson 65
Sagarin: L'ville 65, Davidson 60

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UPSET ALERT: No. 5 New Mexico (27-6) vs. No. 12 Long Beach State (25-8)
March 15 | 3 p.m. CST | Portland | TBS
Brian Anderson | Dan Bonner

There are no computational indications that this could be an upset. I just respect Casper Ware and the 49ers that bloody much. Plus, the location is semi-favorable to Long Beach.

I'll probably still take the Lobos because they were hands-down the best team in a pretty good league this year, but be Ware-y...

GAMER: UNM 66, LBSU 61
Pomeroy: UNM 70, LBSU 65
Sagarin: UNM 66, LBSU 62

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No. 6 Murray State (30-1) vs. No. 11 Colorado State (20-11)
March 15 | 11:15 a.m. CST | Louisville | CBS
Verne Lundquist | Bill Raftery

Colorado State was God-awful on the road this season and schemed its RPI just to get into the field. What makes anyone think the Rams are going to be successful on a neutral floor that won't really be that neutral?

That's right, the Racers fans, who traveled like crazy all season, are coming to the Yum! Center.

And Isaiah Canaan is like Casper Ware on crack. Murray is undersized, but it won't be exposed in this match-up.

The dream season continues.

GAMER: MSU 70, CSU 64
Pomeroy: MSU 70, CSU 67
Sagarin: MSU 65, CSU 63

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UPSET ALERT: No. 7 Florida (23-10) vs. No. 10 Virginia (22-9)
March 16 | 1:10 p.m. CST | Omaha | TNT
Marv Albert | Steve Kerr

The models are in agreement: Despite Florida's propensity for high-scoring games, Virginia's style should be able to slow the tempo of the game and make things a slog for the Gators.

The Cavaliers are one of the best field-goal percentage defenses in the country. If anyone can handle Florida's four-guard attack and multifaceted guards, it's probably the Wahoos.

This should be a fascinating contrast in styles, and one Mizzou fans will be watching with great interest. Each team presents difficulties for the Tigers.

GAMER: Virginia 67, Florida 66
Pomeroy: Florida 62, Virginia 61
Sagarin: Florida 66, Virginia 64

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UPSET ALERT: No. 8 Memphis (26-8) vs. No. 9 Saint Louis (25-7)
March 16 | 5:50 p.m. CST | Columbus | TBS
Tim Brando | Mike Gminski

Everyone says Memphis is a demon and Saint Louis got a bad draw. Well, guess what?

Memphis is still coached by a boy wonder who hasn't really won a big game in his tenure and the Billikens are coached by a certifiable, if morbidly obese, coaching genius.

Yes, Memphis' athleticism will pose all kinds of problems for SLU, but so will SLU's fundamentally sound play.

I liken it to Kansas State vs. Wisconsin. We've all seen how that one works out in the Dance, which features lower-scoring, slower-tempo games on average.

Memphis should win the game, but SLU will make the Tigers fight harder for it than most people think, I suspect.

GAMER: Memphis 73, SLU 68
Pomeroy: Memphis 65, SLU 63
Sagarin: Memphis 67, SLU 66

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