Here follows my predictions for the West Region of the 2012 NCAA Tournament. Get out your brackets. And wallets.
BYU def. Iona. BYU gets the nod here based on experience. The Cougars were a tournament team last year, while the Gaels are making their first appearance since 2001.
No. 1 Michigan State def. No. 16 Long Island. Michigan State is hot right now. No chance of them getting bounced by a 16 seed.
No. 9 St. Louis def. No. 8 Memphis. Rick Majerus is back in the NCAA tourney leading the Billikens of St. Louis. He made a living at Utah out of quality runs in the tourney, and now finally has a team at St. Louis capable of doing the same.
No. 5 New Mexico def. No. 12 Long Beach State. It kills me not to pick 49ers, but New Mexico is playing great basketball right now. The Beach played a tough schedule, and they are battle-tested. This game is a coin-flip, but I am going with my head and not my heart.
No. 4 Louisville def. No. 13 Davidson. The Cardinals are peaking at the right time. Fresh off a run in the Big East tourney, Louisville will ride the momentum of that championship into the Big Dance.
No. 6 Murray State def. No. 11 Colorado State. The Racers are an impressive 30-1 and have all the makings of a Cinderella team that we so easily fall in love with this time of year -- and I am smitten.
No. 3 Marquette def. No. 14 BYU. Marquette, out of the Big East, should have no problem with BYU. I expect them to cruise to an easy win.
No. 10 Virginia def. No. 7 Florida. I like the Cavs to pull the upset. Some feel like they might be "backing in" to the tournament, but they've played tough all year in the difficult ACC. They play good defense, and that goes a long way in the month of March.
No. 2 Missouri def. No. 15 Norfolk State. No need to over-analyze. Missouri will lose to the Spartans in this tourney, but it won't be to the Spartans of Norfolk State.
No. 1 Michigan State def. No. 9 St. Louis. The Spartants end St. Louis' hopes of a magical tournament run, and stay on track for a trip to New Orleans.
No. 5 New Mexico def. No. 4 Louisville. The Lobos, led by double-double machine Drew Gordon, sneak past Louisville to advance to the Sweet 16.
No. 6 Murray State def. No. 3 Marquette. It seems every year like the Big East fails to match its regular season hype come tournament time. The trend continues as Murray State pulls off the stunner.
No. 2 Missouri def. No. 10 Virginia. The Tigers get the better of the Cavs and cruise to an easy win to set up a showdown with Murray State.
No. 1 Michigan State def. No 5 New Mexico. The Spartans continue the patented Tom Izzo tourney run. New Mexico puts up a fight, but Sparty is just too much for the Lobos to handle.
No. 2 Missouri def. No. 6 Murray State. The slipper fits no more, and the Sweet 16 is where it ends for Murray State. The high-scoring Tigers have a date with Michigan State in the Elite 8.
No. 1 Michigan State def. No. 2 Missouri: The Tigers' potent offense meets its match against the Spartans, and Tom Izzo and his boys advance to the Big Easy.
Winners: Michigan State takes the West Region.
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