NCAA West Region 1
by Michael Ermitage
The tournament committee did Cincinnati no favors by giving the Bearcats a number one seed in the West region. Bob Huggins’ squad will be hard-pressed to reach the Final Four in this loaded bracket.
No. 1 Cincy vs. No. 16 Boston University
Few teams are ready for the kind of defensive intensity that Cincy brings to the court each night. There is no doubt that BU has seen nothing like it this year. The Terriers haven’t won an NCAA Tournament game since 1959, and this year will be no different. UC gunner Steve Logan will not play more than 25 minutes in this one.
Cincinnati 82, Boston University 53
No. 8 UCLA vs. No. 9 Ole Miss
This could not have been the matchup UCLA coach Steve Lavin was looking for. The defensive Rebels toiled through what was probably the toughest conference in the nation, earning a 9-7 conference record. Ole Miss will slow the Bruins down and force UCLA to rely on execution instead of athleticism. This will cause huge problems for Lavin’s club. Look for an awful shooting day from UCLA guard Jason Kapono, something around 4-14. Emerging star Justin Reed, however, will pick and choose his spots to take down the Bruins.
Ole Miss 67, UCLA 57
No. 5 Miami vs. No. 12 Missouri
This is another classic matchup of offense versus defense. The Hurricanes will suffocate you, contesting every shot. Meanwhile, Missouri’s Kareem Rush and Clarence Gilbert will be tossing up every shot they get. Miami, however, had some trouble playing away from home in a sub-par conference. Missouri was as enigmatic as they come. Will coach Quin Snyder get Mizzou ready just as his mentor Coach K always has Duke ready? This one is a true tossup.
Mizzou 72, Miami 70
No. 4 Ohio State vs. No. 13 Davidson
The Ohio State Buckeyes, who won the Big Ten tourney title, are not particularly talented and definitely lack star power. But they are deep, well-coached and very disciplined. They switch defenses on the fly and execute their offensive sets as well as any team in the nation. Davidson is much like Ohio State, featuring balanced scoring and a team-first philosophy. The Wildcats (21-9) are a solid club, capable of an upset, but not against these Buckeyes.
Ohio State 83, Davidson 69