Editor’s note: You can check out Perry’s thoughts on the rest of the bracket here.
Contenders for the final four spot:
(1) Memphis – The Tigers were the number one seed almost all year, winning their first 26 games in a row. They finally lost to a great Tennessee team on their home court. Since that loss, they put together seven more wins out of seven games to finish 33-1. Although they played in a weak conference, they did tally up some great non-conference wins against UCONN, Georgetown, USC and Oklahoma. Their star player is junior guard Chris Douglas-Roberts who kills it in the land of three pointers, shooting almost 45%. Freshman Derrick Rose is another player to watch as he has scored over 20 points six times this season.
(2) Texas – I love this team. They have beaten Tennessee, UCLA and Kansas this year, so they know how to get up for the big game. Sophomore guard D.J. Augustin is a stud. He’s averaged 22.5 points per game in his last nine games including 20 points and nine assists against Kansas on Sunday. Look for this team to be playing in their backyard in the regional finals, which are being played in Houston.
(3) Stanford – Even though they play in the PAC 10, they don’t play like a PAC 10 team. They’re a half-court team with two seven-footers plugging the middle. Furthermore, those big men are twin brothers Brook and Robin Lopez. Brook is the better one. If they can get out of the first two rounds without a scare, they should be a viable opponent for Texas. They did lose to UCLA three times, so they haven’t been able to take down a big dog. However, the game tends to slow down in the post season, so that could play to their advantage.
(4) Pittsburgh – They are the first four seed in this tournament that I view as a contender. They have won seven of their last eight games, including four straight in four straight days to take down the Big East Conference Tournament. Hopefully, the three days rest will give them enough time to recoup. Pitt has beaten Duke, Georgetown twice, Louisville and Marquette, so they can hang with the better teams. Keep your eye on junior forward Sam Young.
(11) Kentucky over (6) Marquette. After starting the season 7-9 which included four straight losses, Kentucky has turned things around. They went 11-3 in the second half of the season with wins over Tennessee and Vanderbilt. I’ve also seen Marquette not show up for games, losing by double digits five times this season.
(10) Saint Mary’s over (7) Miami. I have a feeling that the Gaels are going to come out firing and I don’t think Miami is good. They were only 8-8 in the ACC and an unimpressive 8-7 in the second half of the season when their schedule got a little tougher.
South Region Winner: Texas – D.J. Augustin seems to be the type of player that will excel in this tournament and everyone will feed off of him. I see them out gunning Stanford, setting up a match against Memphis in Houston where they will have a little home court advantage. I believe this will be the toughest region to win. A lot of good teams and a lot of good players.
Contenders for the final four spot:
(1) UCLA – They are the favorite to win it all according to Vegas. The smartest sports people in the world think they are the best team. They went 16-2 in arguably the best conference in college basketball. Their only losses came against Texas, USC and Washington. Freshman Kevin Love has been outstanding, a solid 6-10 center that averaged 17 points and 10 rebounds while shooting 55% from the field. The Bruins also have three other players that are capable of scoring 20 a night in Darren Collison (5), Josh Shipp (3) and Russell Westbrook (1). Overall, the team shoots very well at almost 48%. They aren’t the best three-point shooting team, but expect Shipp and Collison to hold their own.
(2) Duke – They live and die by the three, and they will die in this tournament. I haven’t liked this team all season. One reason is that I hate Duke with a passion. The other reason is more logical, they don’t have anyone taller than 6-8 on their team. And that 6-8 player, Kyle Singler, only shoots three-pointers. They don’t have anyone on their team that can play with their back to the basket. Nobody! You need someone that can to win a tournament like this. Joe Alexander & Da’Sean Butler are going to expose this team in the second round. Send Duke home…somebody.
(4) Connecticut – I skipped right over Xavier and I wouldn’t be surprised if they are upset in the first two rounds. Moving along to UCONN. I love this Huskie team. Like every Jim Calhoun coached team they have a player that fits every position. Unlike Duke, they do have someone who can play with their back to the basket in sophomore center Hasheem Thabeet, who stands 7-3 tall. Junior A.J. Price plays the role of point guard, dishing out six assists per game. And Junior forward Jeff Adrien is capable of bringing down 20 points and 10 boards on any given night. This team is deep, they have a bunch of players that can play and they will be a tough draw for number one seed UCLA.
(12) Western Kentucky over (5) Drake. These teams are so evenly matched it really wouldn’t be an upset if the Hilltoppers won, but they are a (12) and Drake is a (5). Western Kentucky played Tennessee very tight this year and they’ve won 17 of their last 18. As for Drake, Missouri Valley Conference teams play the role of ‘Cinderella’ better than ‘favorite.’
(6) Purdue over (3) Xavier. Purdue beat Louisville and Wisconsin twice, so they can play. I’m just not sold on Xavier. If it wasn’t for them, Saint Joseph’s wouldn’t be in this tournament. They lost to them twice in eight days. This really doesn’t mean anything, but it does for this segment.
(7) West Virginia over (2) Duke. Joe Alexander & Da’Sean Butler. I hate Duke. I actually will be surprised if Duke beats Belmont in the first round. Belmont and Duke have combined for 1,729 three-pointers this year. I’m placing the over/under at 54 total three-pointers in that game. Anyone wanna wager some Perry Dollars on that?
West Region Winner: UCLA – I truly believe this is the weakest region. UCLA, Connecticut and that’s it. The winner of their match-up will head to the Final Four in San Antonio. Also, look for a Cinderella to come from this bracket.