The West region is by far the most difficult to pick. I'd like to say I saved it for last on purpose, but it just worked out that way. There are three teams with a legitimate chance of escaping with a ticket to the Final Four: #1 UCLA, #2 Duke, and #3 Xavier. But we'll get into that later.
First, let's take a second and give a big round of applause to the 17-16 Georgia Bulldogs who won a mind-boggling four games in a row! to steal the SEC Conference Tournament Championship and secure an invite to the Big Dance. No, really. What they accomplished this past weekend was nothing short of amazing. That they did it under controversial and bizarre circumstances makes it even more so. That they did it at the end of a controversial and bizarre season makes it even more amazing still. The players, the coaches, the school, the fans all should be proud. But… let's not get carried away. Living in the south, I'm used to hearing the wild-eyed semi-coherent rants of drooling crazy persons who preach the Good News of the Gators or Dawgs. You get used to it, like the mosquitoes. But in the past 24 hours, the amount of sermonizing on how far the Dawgs will go this week reached Biblical proportions. "Dawgs'll go far, you'll see." "No tellin how far they'll go." "Dawgs are gonna go a long way, you just wait." At first I laughed at them. I should know better than that. They only double their efforts at converting you. But then I thought about it, I mean really thought about it, and honestly, I can no longer disagree. MapQuest reveals it is a full 593 miles from
I know everyone likes to throw
Cinderella candidate Drake will fall to UConn and save anyone who's still paying attention after Sunday the trouble of saying, "Who's Drake? Who's this Drake team? Where are they from?"
Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight
Like I mentioned above, any one of the top three teams in this region has a shot at the Final Four. A bad call here, a missed free throw there, that may very well be the difference. The only thing making this pick easier is that one of these three teams is Duke. With Duke there are only two possibilities: either you hate Duke, or you're retarded. Even the Dukies can understand that. So it's Xavier over Duke (out of spite), UCLA over Xavier.
That's it. I've got a Part 7 wrap-up I'll post Wednesday, and I'll probably just tell you who's gonna win it all while I'm at it. But it's pretty obvious now, isn't it?