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Oakland Region Breakdown

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Let's go out west and take a look at the Oakland bracket. This is the most wide open of the four regions. All four top seeds won their post season conference tourney. Top seeded Memphis is probably the weakest of all the top seeds but has won 19 of their last 20 games. The #2 seed is UCLA. The committee seems to have rewarded the Bruins for being one of the few good teams out west. UCLA could play all four games on its way to the Final Four in California. Third seeded Gonzaga must feel like Rodney Dangerfield. They are ranked in the top five by both polls but were only rewarded with a #3. Last, the fourth seeded Kansas Jawhawks enter the tournament as the hottest team in the country. KU has won 22 of 25 including another Big 12 tournament title.

First Round
#1 Memphis vs. #16 Oral Roberts
Neither team has to travel far to Dallas. Again, no 16 seed has ever won a game. Memphis is beatable but not in this round. Rodney Carney and Darius Washington lead the young Tigers to victory. Pick: Memphis

#8 Arkansas vs. #9 Bucknell
Some people have the Hogs in the Sweet 16. We are -not- some people. Arkansas is lucky to make the tournament and won't be here long. Their only advantage in this one will be the crazed fans in Big D. Bucknell knocked off Kansas in the first round last year. Bucknell also won at Syracuse and played Villanova and Duke this season. They won't be intimidated. Pick: Bucknell

#5 Pittsburgh vs. #12 Kent State
This one will be really close. BON was tempted to go with the upset. Pitt played well in NYC but limped to the end of their conference season. They play basketball like A&M (i.e. kind of like football). Kent State has a decent frontcourt but will still have trouble with Aaron Grey in the paint. Pitt has too much experience. Pick: Pitt

#4 Kansas vs. #13 Bradley
Bradley was either the last or next to last team in the field of 65. They will be leaving quickly. KU has so many athletes and scores easily in transition. Mario Chalmers and Julian Wright are playing excellent basketball. This young team has gelled nicely as the season progressed. KU will be making a run this year. Bradley hasn't faced anyone in the MVC like the Jayhawks. Pick: Kansas

#6 Indiana vs. #11 San Diego State
Didn't the Hoosiers quit? Of yeah, that was just their coach. They are still without forward DJ White. IU doesn't have too many scary players and Mike Davis already has one foot out the door. Call this one a hunch. SDSU gets balanced scoring and the IU three pointers don't drop. Pick: SDSU

#3 Gonzaga vs. #14 Xavier
Xavier had a terrible regular season but wins four games in four days. Syracuse does the same. One gets a 14 seed. The other earns a 5 seed. Weird. Zaga did win their conference tourney but it wasn't easy. They needed OT in the semifinals and survived a last second blown layup in the finals. Did I mention the tournament was on their home floor? The Zags don't play defense at all and are not likely to go far. Xavier is horrible though. Pick: Gonzaga

#7 Marquette vs. #10 Alabama
Bama has dropped four of their last six. ESPN calls them "statistically underwhelming." But they do have a post presence even without injured Chuck Davis. Marquette has some great wins in the Big East (UConn, Pitt, G'town) this year but has a tendency to turn the ball over. They also rely too heavily on the scoring of Steve Novak. Pick: Alabama

#2 UCLA vs. #15 Belmont
The Bruins vs. the Bruins. Maybe the selection committee was going for the funny this year. UCLA won both the regular season and tournament title in the Pac 10. Too bad no one has seen any of their games. The Pac 10 would be wise to negotiate a TV contract with an actual network if they want to curb the east coast bias. Farmar and Afflalo are a formidable backcourt duo for any opponent. Pick: UCLA

Second Round
#1 Memphis vs. #9 Bucknell
Do you think the Arkansas fans will stay around to watch this one? Or will they head quickly back to their home state? I think there could be lots of empty seats in Dallas on Sunday. Bucknell is tough. Memphis is better. John Calapari guides the freshman and sophomores to the Sweet 16. Pick: Memphis

#4 Kansas vs. #5 Pittsburgh
This one could be great. Young vs. old. Guards vs. Big Men. Kansas has trouble defending the post. Pitt has seven footer Aaron Gray. Gray averages a double double and will be a huge test for Julian Wright and Sasha Kaun. Kansas survives. Pick: Kansas

#3 Gonzaga vs. #11 SDSU
Maybe the committee does like the Zags. If this game happens, they will walk into the Sweet 16 untested. Adam Morrison, JP Batista, and Derek Ravio make the Zags go. Morrison has a big game and vows to never shave his porn `stach. Pick: Gonzaga

#2 UCLA vs. #10 Alabama
Bruins' fans don't have to travel far to see their team play. Do people in Alabama know how to get to California? The home court advantage will be huge. UCLA plays great defense and gets 40+ from their guards. Pick: UCLA

Sweet 16
#1 Memphis vs. #4 Kansas
Both teams are loaded with young talent. Most of them are barely old enough to vote. Memphis' Rodney Carney is the only upperclassman to contribute for either team. The KU run was nice but I still remember that dazed look in Austin not too many weeks ago. Memphis is more battle tested. They played Gonzaga, Duke, Texas, and UCLA out of conference. The Tigers survive on pure athleticism. Pick: Memphis

#2 UCLA vs. #3 Gonzaga
These are clearly the two best teams out west. What better way to ensure another title for an east coast club than to make them play each other. Both teams are capable of scoring in the 90s. Unfortunately, only one team actually plays defense. Pick: UCLA

Elite Eight
#1 Memphis vs. #2 UCLA
We know this appears to be a boring chalk bracket. Sometimes chalk is nice. This will be another great matchup of young talent. Memphis is working on borrowed time at this point. They also have to play in Oakland and won't travel well. UCLA has overcome injuries this year and now gets relatively balanced scoring. They will need big games from their guards to survive Williams, Washington, and Carney though. This one could go either way. Home court makes the difference. Pick: UCLA

--AW--