NCAA Bracket 2011 Preview: West Region Primer

Defending national champion Duke is the final top seed in the 2011 NCAA Tournament bracket. That means the Blue Devils get shipped to the West Coast, as the West Regional will be held in Anaheim next Thursday and Saturday. At first glance, Duke's draw looks fairly easy, as Mountain West Tournament champion San Diego State is the two seed, a team with suspect guard play, and Big East tourney champ Connecticut, fresh off playing five games in five days, is the No. 3. However, the Blue Devils could have plenty of problems against No. 4 seed Texas, a team I feel is a bit underseeded, but that's only if the Longhorns don't play as inconsistently as they have over the past month.

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One of the most curious things about this region is the potential of a first weekend matchup between two Big East teams. The No. 6 seed in UConn's Washington, D.C. pod is Big East rival Cincinnati, a team they defeated by 8 on the road back on February 27th. Of course, both teams would have to get out of the Second Round for that to happen, and the Bearcats will get a stiff test, as they have to take on a capable Missouri team, who probably deserved a bit better in the seeding department, like their conference rivals from Austin.

The No. 8 vs. No. 9 game is another to watch, as Tennessee, one of the most inconsistent teams in the country, takes on Michigan, a team that's come together late in the season after a rough early season.

Most Intriguing Second Round Game: No. 12 Memphis vs. No. 5 Arizona in Tulsa on Friday: Josh Pastner, a member of the Wildcats 1997 National Championship team and assistant under Lute Olson, faces his alma mater in a matchup of two teams that, much like Tennessee, baffle their respective fan bases. This one may come down to which young point guard, the Tigers' Joe Jackson or the Wildcats' Lamont Jones, makes the fewest mistakes.

Upset Special: No. 13 Oakland over No. 4 Texas in Tulsa on Friday: With Keith Benson and Will Hudson inside and point guard Reggie Hamilton running the show, the Golden Grizzlies have the size and playmaking abilities to give the Longhorns fits.

Chris Dobbertean's Regional Pick: Once again, Duke has a favorable path to yet another Final Four.

Need a printable NCAA bracket to fill out for the tournament? Download SB Nation's March Madness Bracket.

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