In an effort to collaborate, and do less work, we have reached out to some fortunate bloggers whose teams still remain dancing as we head into the second weekend of play. Got a hunch your team is going to the Final Four? Send us your soapbox narrative and we will add it to the mix.
Travis from Hammer & Rails says Purdue will win the West Region...
Simply because no one expects them to. No one wants a tough, hard-working, defensive minded team to have any success. Defense isn't flashy, even though it wins games. UConn, Missouri, and Memphis haven't seen anything like Purdue's defense this year. If anything, Missouri has an advantage against Purdue. The Tigers and Boilers played a home and home series in 2006-07 and 2007-08 with each team winning on its home floor. Those meetings are still fresh in the minds of the upperclassmen, and it was after Purdue's loss at Missouri last season that the "Baby Boilers" of Robbie Hummel, JaJuan Jonhson, and E'Twaun Moore began to grow up. Those who expect the Boilers to roll over and die in awe of UConn's talent will be sorely disappointed.
Sean from Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician says Syracuse will win the South Region...
Because all systems are go. Syracuse is playing its best basketball of the year, at least in the first half, and all of the pieces are clicking together nicely. If Andy Rautins' threes aren't falling, Rick Jackson and Arinze Onuaku are stepping it up inside. If Eric Devendorf can't get the ball, Jonny Flynn puts the team on his shoulders. Free throws are dropping, threes are falling, and the team defense has been stellar. If they can cut down on the turnovers and keep the energy high in the second half, they can play with any of the teams left.
Zach and Max from The Slipper Still Fits say Gonzaga will win the South Region...
Because they have the depth and athleticism to match up with anyone in the nation. Guards Jeremy Pargo, Matt Bouldin, Steven Gray, and Demetri Goodson give Gonzaga one of the deepest and most talented stable of guards in the nation. Throw in Micah Downs, Austin Daye, and Josh Heytvelt and this team is a force. If the shots are falling, there are not many teams that can stop this offense from producing in massive numbers. The Zags are coming off an extremely emotional finish against Western Kentucky which is sure to translate into a confident team come Friday. Lastly, the Zags have not tasted defeat since the first week of February. They have dominated every opponent up until Western Kentucky and there is no doubt that they will not go down without a major fight.
Cory from Rock Chalk Talk says Kansas will win the Midwest Region...
Because of Bill Self. Or, as we like to call him over at RCT, the best damn coach around. There's a reason they are inventing Coach of the Year awards just to give him another one. So, give him a week to prepare, and watch out. It all starts with defense. When this team struggles, it's because of defense. When this team succeeds, it's because of defense (evidence: Sunday vs. Dayton we shot 43%, 50% from the free throw line, 19% from three and still won by 17 points). If our defense shows up in Indy, we'll be showing up in the Motor City.
We'll also make the Final Four due to the fantastic inside-outside duo of Sherron Collins and Cole Aldrich. We live-and-die by Sherron, and that was displayed in the first two rounds. For stretches, our offense was to hand it to him and let him go to work, either driving to the basket and dipsy-doing it into the hoop himself. When he's on, as he was in Minneapolis, we're hard to beat. Believe it or not, Aldrich is still incredibly raw on offense. He's much more important on D, which let him pick up 20 rebounds and 10 blocks against Dayton.
Bill from Rock M Nation thinks Missouri will win the West Region...
Because they have the athleticism to match Memphis, the depth to sink UConn, and the versatility to sink Purdue. They are more than just a full-court press. They are one of the most offensively efficient teams in the country, led, but inside-outside big men DeMarre Carroll and Leo Lyons, and they have streaky outside shooters in Kim English, Matt Lawrence, Zaire Taylor, and Marcus Denmon.
Defensively, when the press isn't working, Mike Anderson has no problem ditching it in favor of an aggressive zone or halfcourt trap. The pressure is always on, and in about 90% of Missouri's games this year, the opponent has simply melted down in the second half. Missouri is now 29-1 when not trailing by double digits at halftime-- so you must either hammer the Tigers them early with 3-pointers and great defense, or you tread the slippery slope of playing from behind the whole game like Marquette. This is one of the scrappiest teams in the tournament. They wear you down mentally and physically, and Memphis is going to have their hands full on Thursday night.
Matt from Crimson and Cream Machine thinks Oklahoma will win the South Region...
The reason why Oklahoma will make it to Detroi for the Final Four is simple: The Sooners have the best player in the nation (ed note: Blake Griffin, obvi!!!) and one of the best freshman in Willie Warren. Griffin has cranked up his game for the Dance, scoring 61 points grabbing 30 boards in the first two games. Warren has been consistent by scoring 16 in each of Oklahoma's first two tournament games, giving the Sooners an excellent 1-2 scoring option