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West Region Preview: Duke in position to dominate coverage

Take your pick: do you want ubiquitous coverage of the potential, and then likely, return of superfrosh Kyrie Irving, or Coach K's pursuit of the all-time wins title dominating the mainstream sports media world for the next few weeks? Whether they win the bracket or not, the Blue Devils have already secured the majority of the attention allocated to the West Region, and not a San Diego State or Kemba Walker can stop them.

Besides Duke, Duke and Duke, junkies will appreciate a likely second round match-up between Arizona-Texas, and a guard-centric Missouri Tigers club trying to corral the real Big East Player of the Year. But more importantly than all this, is the bypassing of Temple-Penn State. I heard that the Chinese government has already requested its game tape to be used in their torture chambers. Its two hours of television better left for the sinners.

We don't try and predict the bracket, but there's plenty to be gleaned after the jump...

Guy we will be "Searching For" five years from now

  • Nick: Tennessee's Scotty Hopson: He's got the hair-do and the perimeter game to hold claim to one of the freshest players in the game this season, but that doesn't mean it will project at the next level. Currently a likely second round pick, Hopson make be the primary reason Tennessee gets past Michigan, but he still screams "overseas talent."
  • Dave: Cincinnati's Yancy Gates: There was actually a time when scouts would sit in amazement and drool over Gates' elite combination of size and athleticism. Oh, the potential! The Big East better watch out for this kid! Unfortunately, that was five years ago when Gates was dunking on wispy high schoolers. In college, we've seen Yancy clash with his coach, chronically underwhelm on the court, and best of all, he's mastered the art of pathetic body language. He's already a pro!
  • Dan: Penn State's Talor Battle: Battle has provided people with Big Ten Network subscriptions some big time moments over his last four years. He's the best player to ever suit up at Penn State, but stands at just 5'11'' with sneakers on. If he was wise, he'd forgo the trips to Sioux Falls, Erie, and Reno and head straight to the Italian League.  

Best possible story line

  • Nick: If Kyrie Irving even sniffs a fresh Duke white jersey and it's caught on camera, the focus of the tournament could shift to Charlotte then Anaheim before moving onto Houston. It could be so monumental, that it overshadows Coach K's run at becoming the all-time winningest Division I college basketball coach.
  • Dave: It's all about the Oakland Golden Grizzlies. We knew every pundit with a microphone would immediately tab Oakland as their "upset special", but drawing Texas to kick things off was a brutal slap in the face by the committee. If Greg Kampe's team can somehow sneak through the opening round, they will be rewarded with a favorable match-up with either Arizona or Memphis.
  • Dan: In light of the recent 30 for 30 smash hit on Steve Fisher's Michigan teams, one of the great stories in this region has to be Fisher's quest for his first NCAA Tournament win since his days in Ann Arbor. After building the San Diego State program from the ground up since 1999, Fisher and his Aztecs are primed for their best run ever.

Why Duke won’t prevail

  • Nick: Excluding the loss to Florida State, Duke was outrebounded and out assisted when they were downed by Virginia Tech, St. John's and North Carolina. With that, a potential match-up against Texas in the Sweet 16 could cause problems. The Longhorns are the nation's 5th best rebounding team, and have a scorer in Jordan Hamilton who could get hot as Dogus Balbay slows down the Blue Devil offense.
  • Dave: Cold shooting. That's the only way I see it happening. There are plenty of power conference teams that could make things tough, however. The winner of Michigan/Tennessee should give the Blue Devils a heck of a game, but it's Texas who looms large as a potential Sweet 16 opponent. The difficulty of winning back-to-back titles cannot be overstated, and the varying styles of teams like San Diego State, Connecticut, Michigan, Texas, and Arizona could take the Dukies away from their own game.
  • Dan: San Diego State could pose big problems for Duke. They have a long, super-athletic seven man rotation and play defense a lot like Florida State, a team Duke struggled to score on. They have held 11 of their last 14 opponents to under 62PPG on their way to being the 7th ranked team defense in the nation. Kawhi Leonard, Billy White, and DJ Gay would really pressure Singler, Smith and Irving into forced shots and turn it into transition points, something the Aztecs have thrived doing of late.

So who we got?

  • Nick: Duke over UConn
  • Dave: Duke over SDSU
  • Dan: Duke over UConn