Doug's picks: West Region first round games

The West Region of this tournament is ridiculously difficult. Four Top 10 teams – Oklahoma, Cincinnati, Arizona and Gonzaga – along with Big Ten champs Ohio State, make this by far the most hazardous trip to a Final Four

But since we all know that, let's look at the first round match ups and see if I can do any better than Dick Vitale, Jay Bilas and the rest of the so-called experts. Actually, I might not do any better than the rest of you. But it's so much fun to make these predictions that I couldn't resist the opportunity. So, here we go!!!

No. 1 Cincinnati vs No. 16 Boston University – I don't have anything to say except I'm just not crazy enough to predict the first No. 1 vs No. 16 upset in the history of this event. Cincinnati advances.

No. 8 UCLA vs No. 9 Mississippi – The Bruins have the best talent in the Pac-10 Conference and its No. 4 national ranking at the beginning of the season might not have been too far off if this team had a real coach. Can you imagine Lute Olson at the helm? The Bruins would be Pac-10 champs and a No. 1 or 2 seed instead of sorry No. 8. But even with Steve Lavin leading the troops, the Bruins will survive round one and advance.

No. 5 Miami vs No. 12 Missouri – Like the Bruins, how can Mizzou really be so mediocre? The Tiger have one of the best wing players in all of college basketball. Kareem Rush is a scoring machine, and if he gets hot the Tigers can make some noise in the tournament. Problem is, without a big night from Rush, Mizzou could be out in a hurry. However, there is no way the Hurricanes are deserving of a No. 5 seed. The Big East is one of the weakest "major" conferences in the country, and Hurricanes were no better than the third best team in the conference behind UConn and Pitt. Missouri should win this game handily.

No. 4 Ohio State vs No.13 Davidson -- I know, the Buckeyes beat Illinois for the Big Ten Conference tournament and also tied for the regular season title. But I just don't think Ohio State can run with the big boys. Yes, the Buckeyes will advance to round two but don't bet big bucks on this team going much farther.

No. 6 Gonzaga vs No. 11 Wyoming – Most everyone, including the Zags themselves, think Gonzaga got hosed by the selection committee when it was given a six seed. But the truth is, the Zags didn't beat anyone of note all year. No doubt, Dan Dickau is one of the best scoring point guards in all of college basket. And Corey Violette, who's only a sophomore, will become an impact player for the Zags in the near future. But right now, the Zags have been given all they deserve and they have a tough first round game with the Cowboys. If Gonzaga looks past Wyoming, they are making a big mistake. You have to remember Wyoming is familiar with the Pitt and has played in the high altitude before. The Cowboys also have the athletes to get this into an up-tempo game. And, if the game is fast, the Zags will lose. Wyoming in upset over the Zags!!!

No. 3 Arizona vs No. 14 UC-Santa Barbara – This might be the best No. 3 vs No. 14 game of the tournament. Santa Barbara is on a six-game winning streak and is very confident. Arizona is on a four-game streak of its own. Both are very young, It just might be the Gouchos youth and Arizona's overall talent superiority that sends Santa Barbara packing. Wildcats by 15.

No. 7 Xavier vs No. 10 Hawaii – The Musketeers have one of the best players in the country, All-American 6-8 power forward David West. Hawaii has an unheralded, but lethal backcourt combination in Mike McIntyre and Carl English. There is a common saying, "You win with solid guard play when it comes to tournament time" and there is no doubt the Rainbow Warriors have the edge in that department. However, I just believe West and his supporting cast will be better. Xavier in a somewhat close game.

No. 2 Oklahoma vs No. 15 Ill.-Chicago – Yes, I saw Ill.-Chicago beat Loyola of Chicago to win the conference title. Was I impressed? No. Oklahoma will not only put out the Flame, the Sooners will destroy them.

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