The day of bracket reckoning in the 2011 NCAA Tournament is very nearly upon us. I hope you're ready to lose all of your final four teams by the end of the first round. In the hopes of avoiding that fate, we're going to try to pick every tournament game. Let's take a look at the West Regional.
1 Duke Vs.
16 Hampton: I have a rule when I'm filling out a bracket to eliminate Duke as early as I can justify it to myself. Even I can't take them out here. It pains me to put them through in any round, but I think Duke is the pretty clearly winner of this game.
8 Michigan Vs.
9 Tennessee: I'm not really sure how Michigan earned an eight seed in this tournament. I can't think of one impressive win they've had this year, or even a time when they have demanded my attention. Tennessee meanwhile, has a pretty good group of talent and should be able to outrun the Wolverines. I like Tennessee in this game, and I hesitate to even call it an upset. 5 Arizona Vs. 12 Memphis: This is one of the juicier matchups in the first round. Memphis coach Josh Pastner used to play and coach for the Wildcats, and Memphis has plenty of talent to pull off a first round upset. We know that there is going to be some 5/12 upsets, there always are. I think this might be one of them.
4 Texas Vs.
13 Oakland: Texas probably should have been a lot higher than a four seed, and they are pretty bummed about it. There are two reactions we usually see from this. They can either come out with their hair on fire and burn through the tournament, or they can just lay down in the first round. I'm going to choose the former. 6 Cincinnati Vs. 11 Missouri: Frankly, I was a little surprised when I saw that Missouri only got an 11 seed in this field. I remember them being a very good team early in the yearthat was ranked at one point. They might not be that good at this point, but talent doesn't just disappear. I also don't have a ton of faith in Cincy, and I'm not sure they deserve the sixth seed. I like the Tigers here.
3 UConn Vs.
14 Bucknell: Full disclosure, I am from Connecticut and am a big fan of the Huskies. But I don't think any of my bias came into play when picking this game. Kemba Walker is just too good, and I'm not even sure Bucknell would have a chance if they were playing the rest of the Huskies without him. that's how much of a talent disparity there is between these two teams.
7 Temple Vs.
10 Penn St.: Talor Battle is a pretty solid player, but I don't think he has enough pieces around him for the Nittany Lions to pull off this upset. Temple is one of those hard nosed, defensive oriented teams that always seems to do well in the Tournament. And by well, I mean at least win their first round game.
2 San Diego St. Vs.
15 No. Colorado: San Diego St. has shown all year that they are capable of playing with anyone in the Country, and it is going to be interesting to see how they hold up as the tournament goes on. Luckily, I think we'll have that opportunity, because I don't envision them having too much trouble in this game.