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NCAA Tournament West Region breakdown

By The Chicago Tribune Published: March 13, 2011
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Get to know No. 1

Duke (30-4) knows what it feels like to celebrate an NCAA Tournament championship and wants to repeat its performance in Indianapolis last season. The Blue Devils blasted through the ACC Tournament and claimed two victories against rival North Carolina. Coaches love leaders like senior guard Nolan Smith at this time of year. The Blue Devils have plenty of scoring options with Kyle Singler, Seth Curry and Andrew Dawkins. Their front line of Mason and Miles Plumlee, along with Ryan Kelly, combines for 17 rebounds per game. The main question haunting Duke is whether freshman guard Kyrie Irving will return from injury to play.

Cinderella

No. 13 Oakland. The Grizzlies drew a tough opponent in No. 4 Texas, but they are battle-tested, playing West Virginia, Purdue, Illinois, Michigan State, Michigan and Ohio State, and beating Tennessee. Oakland ranks third nationally shooting 49.4 percent and second with 85.6 points per game.

Best first-round matchup

No. 8 Michigan vs. No. 9 Tennessee. Only three Michigan players were around two seasons ago for the NCAA Tournament trip. The Volunteers have made the last six NCAA tournaments.

The buzz

Did No. 3 Connecticut wear itself out in the Big East tournament? Winning five games in five days, electric guard Kemba Walker scored 130 points. Drawing a Thursday game takes away a day of rest. … No. 2 San Diego State went 12-1 on the road this season, but the Aztecs won't be going far from home with a slot against Northern Colorado in Tucson, Ariz. … Arizona's dominant forward Derrick Williams scored in double digits in all games but one this season.


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