Mar 19, 2014 - By Bruce Tippets, Sports EditorThe Wildcats are coming off a heartbreaking loss to UCLA.
The loud cry from the college basketball coaches about the seedings for the NCAA tournament made news on Sunday and Monday.
Now the talk is over and the games can begin. Starting Thursday, there will be basketball all day long,
I am trying to guess the winner.
As in the past, the tournament this year is wide open. A number of teams have the opportunity to win the whole thing.
The Mountain West Conference, the league was labeled as the "no respect league," with only San Diego State Aztecs and the New Mexico Lobos making the field.
The Aztecs are the No. 4 seed in the West regionals, and New Mexico has a No. 7 seed in the South region.
San Diego State draws New Mexico State in its first game, while the Lobos get Stanford.
After the Mountain West's terrible showing last year in the NCAA tournament, I completely understand why only two teams were selected this year.
This week, the two teams must win their first games to get some respect back.
The Aztecs have an opportunity to win two games.
I'm picking North Dakota State (No. 12 seed) to upset Oklahoma (No. 5 seed) to set up a game in the next round vs. the Aztecs.
New Mexico has the size to get past Stanford but will probably get run out of the tournament by Syracuse in the next round.
The best part of the do-or-die tournament is trying to pick the upsets in the first couple of days.
I want to see Harvard (No. 12 seed) take down Cincinnati (No. 5 seed) in the East regional to shake things up. It would be good for college basketball if they could survive for the first weekend.
Mercer (No. 14 seed) has the offensive firepower to stun Duke (No. 3 seed), but it probably won't happen.
The No. 1 seeds of the tournament, Florida (South), Virginia (East), Arizona (West) and Wichita State (Midwest), all made noise in the regular season and in their conference tournaments.
Florida and Wichita State probably have the most experienced teams seeded No. 1 for the tournament.
The experts have said Wichita State is in the toughest region with Louisville, Duke and Michigan in the Midwest.
I would be surprised if Wichita State somehow reached the Final Four.
Duke has the best all-around team in the region and is my pick to stamp its way to the last weekend of play.
In the East region, I said last week that Michigan State was my sleeper for the tournament.
MSU is no longer a sleeper after winning the Big Ten tournament.
The second best team in the East region is Villanova, the No. 2 seed behind Virginia.
Florida and Kansas are the powerhouse teams in the South region.
The Arizona Wildcats are coming off a heartbreaking loss to UCLA in the PAC-12 final,
and in the West region, the college basketball experts say the Wildcats have the easiest road to the title game.
The biggest hurdle for Arizona to overcome is an early game with Oklahoma State.
Scoring is not a problem this year for coach Sean Miller's Wildcats, but stopping people on the other hand has been a big issue for Arizona.
The Pac-12 was one of the top conferences this year, and that should help Arizona in the long run.
I'm throwing my weight behind Arizona to win the whole thing.
My other teams in the Final Four are Florida, Michigan State and Duke.
The Arizona Wildcats are going to make me proud to be a fan of western teams come next month.
Get your copy of The Ranger online, every day! If you are a current print subscriber and want to also access dailyranger.com online (there is nothing more to purchase) including being able to download The Mining and Energy Edition, click here. Looking to start a new online subscription to dailyranger.com (even if it is for just one day)? Access our secure SSL encrypted server and start your subscription now by clicking here.