By far the least ravaged of any of the brackets, the West Regional Finals only has one of top four seeds sitting out, and it’s replaced by the fifth seed. Don’t try to remember who that fourth seed was, it will just cause you anger. San Diego State overcame a spirited effort by Temple, and Duke had its own problems with Michigan, but they both escaped. Connecticut had a rather easy run of it against both Bucknell and Cincinnati and Arizona…well, I forget who they played already.
Can anyone knock off the defending champions this time around? Lets take a look at the West’s Sweet 16 teams.
West Region Predictions
1. Duke Blue Devils versus 5. Arizona Wildcats
Projected Winner: Duke 79-69 (84%)
Every Sweet 16 set of picks needs one crazy pick, and here’s mine. Duke will be traveling cross-country to Anaheim, whereas Tucson is more of a bus ride away. Duke has no inside presence that can really compete with Derrick Williams. While Arizona probably can’t stop Nolan Smith (I mean, they couldn’t stop fouling J’Covan Brown), I think they can keep this game close. Duke is still trying to get Kyrie Irving back into the rhythm of the offense, and Michigan was able to take them to the brink while that happened. Call it a hunch, call it a team continuing to get breaks, but I think Arizona wins unless Duke gets it’s trademark favorable officials.
And really, Arizona does owe us for knocking out Texas. It’s the least they could do.
2. San Diego St. Aztecs versus 3. Connecticut Huskies
Projected Winner: San Diego State 66-62 (67%)
Prediction: San Diego State
I see this as a close, low-scoring game. The only real question you have to ask yourself about this one is: do you believe Kemba Walker can score 40 points? The Aztecs play stifling defense and will essentially be playing a home game. Nobody else on Connecticut has shown much of an ability to put the ball in the basket. If Walker can shoot the lights out, Connecticut will win. If he can’t, I like San Diego State’s offensive rebounding and defense to win out in the end.
Duke fan who hates that we picked against them? It’s alright, just download SB Nation’s printable bracket and join every Deb in accounting across America in picking them to win it all. That’ll show us!