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March Madness - West Region
Picks - Preview
The West Region of the NCAA Tournament has many good teams. The #1 seed is Syracuse. The Orange are considered by many to be the best in the land. Kansas State has the #2 seed after falling to Kansas in the Big 12 Championship game. Other tough teams include Pittsburgh, Vanderbilt, Butler, Xavier, Minnesota, UTEP, Minnesota, and Murray State. This is arguable the deepest region of the Tournament. Who will emerge victorious? Letís take a look.
Syracuse Orange - Powered by a strong offense and an even stronger 2-3 defense, this team will give anyone fits. Coach Jim Boeheim is quite decorated with 800+ wins, three Final Four appearances, and a National Championship in 2003 with now NBA star Carmelo Anthony. The Orange have what every team needs; balance. 5 players are averaging 10+ PPG. F Wes Johnson leads Syracuse with 16.0 PPG and 8.4 RPG. He had 25 points in at North Carolina early in the year. G Andy Rautins is equally important with 11.7 PPG and 5.0 APG. He led the Big East in steals this year. If they play their best basketball nothing will stop this team from reaching the Final Four.
Kansas State Wildcats - Although they lost to in state rival Kansas 3 times, the Wildcats put together a strong season on the whole. They were rewarded with the #2 seed. Their best wins came against Xavier, Baylor (twice), Texas, and Texas A&M. Jacob Pullen and Denis Clemente are the heart of the team. They combine to score a whopping 35.1 PPG. They are one of the best G duos in the entire NCAA. If they start clicking early on then they could cause problem for Syracuse when and if they meet up.
Pittsburgh Panthers - After reaching the Elite Eight in 2009, this team is poised to do even more in 2010. They were a #1 seed last year, but may be able to fly a tad under the radar with the #3 seed this year. The Panthers own a win over Syracuse. This tells us that they can play with anybody when things are going right. They also beat Big East rivals West Virginia and Villanova. Strong G play will get this team back to the Elite Eight, and perhaps to the Final Four.
Vanderbilt Commodores - This team caught a tough first round game against Murray State. Donít let the name fool you; The Racers won 30 games this year. If they survive the first round they will have to face the winner of Butler and UTEP. Although Vandy has a very nice team, we have a hard time seeing them make noise in 2010.
Butler Bulldogs - Remember a few years ago when this team was upsetting some of the best teams in the NCAA? Well, they have gone from the hunter to the hunted. This team owns wins over Ohio State, Xavier, and Siena. They have won 20 straight. Swingman Gordon Hayward leads the Bulldogs with 15.4 PPG and 8.4 RPG. F Matt Howards puts up 12.3 PPG. Butler is on upset watch against UTEP, but if they come out of the gate strong with a win they could be dangerous later in the Tournament.
Xavier Musketeers - The Muskies have put together a surprisingly strong season after losing star F Derrick Brown and coach Sean Miller. Leading scorer Jordan Crawford has been huge for Xavier. He is well known for having dunked on LeBron James over the summer. He can get a bit out of control in terms of the amount of shots he takes at times, but when he is on he cannot be stopped. It wouldnít be shocking to see Xavier make another deep run in the Big Dance as they did in 2004 and 2008.
Our top pick to win the West Region of the NCAA Tournament will be the Syracuse Orange. They are just too good for their competition.