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What Happened: West Region

by Photo of Taylor Armosino

Missouri goes down, Florida rolls on, Draymond Green dominates and more from the West Region.

What Happened: West Region

Since it happened over the weekend, you may have forgotten what happened during the first two second and third rounds of the NCAA Tournament. CHARGED.fm has you covered.  Here's what happened in the West Region.

Most Impressive Team: Florida Gators

The seventh seeded Gators have been the most impressive team in the West region. Led by their excellent guard play, Florida has been dominant on both ends of the court in their two tournament games. They impressively defeated Virginia and Norfolk St. by a combined score of 155-95. In the two combined games, Florida has shot 52.8% and held its opponents to just 31.8% shooting from the floor. Guard Brad Beal has led the way for the third seeded Gators. Beal has averaged 14 points and 10 boards in Florida’s two tournament victories.

Most Disappointing Team: Missouri Tigers

Is this one even debatable? No team in the West bracket was more disappointing than the second seeded Missouri Tigers. They lost their opening round matchup to fifteenth seeded Norfolk State, 86-84. Give Norfolk St credit. Their team matched up well against Missouri and they outplayed the Tigers. However, given Missouri’s talent, this game should not have been close. Missouri was lazy on the boards, losing the rebounding battle 35-23. Norfolk St. collected 14 offensive boards to Missouri’s 6. Missouri’s perimeter defense was also very poor. Norfolk St. shot 54.2% from the field and hit 10/19 from beyond the arc. Norfolk St. center Kyle O’Quinn dominated the Tigers, scoring 26 points and grabbing 14 boards. It was a shocking loss for the Tigers, who were projected by many to get to the Final Four. This was a game they should have won and they didn’t get it done.

Most Surprising Team: Norfolk State Spartans

The West region was pretty short on drama. Of the remaining four teams, the one, three and four seeds are still in the game. The two seed, Missouri, lost their first round game in a shocker to the fifteenth seed Norfolk State Spartans. It doesn’t matter that Norfolk was dismantled in their second tournament game against Florida; they were still the surprise of the West region. The terrific trio of Kyle O’Quinn, Pendarvis Williams and Chris McEachin led Missouri to their upset victory. Williams and McEachin each dropped 20 points and the aforementioned O’Quinn scored 26 and grabbed 14 rebounds. Norfolk outplayed Missouri, but was almost undone by missed free throws in the final minute. However, two O’Quinn offensive rebounds took possessions away from the lethal shooting Tigers and played a huge part in winning the game. Missouri guard Phil Pressey missed a desperation three at the buzzer and Norfolk St. came away victorious with the most shocking win in the Western region.

Player of the Weekend: Draymond Green, Michigan State

In my Western region preview, I coined Draymond Green as the X-factor of the region. Green has been nothing short of spectacular in two Michigan State victories. In the Spartans first victory over LIU-Brooklyn, Green joined Oscar Robinson and Magic Johnson as the only players in NCAA history to record more than one triple-double in the tournament. His 24 point 12 rebound 10 assist performance was incredible. Granted, LIU-Brooklyn was a 16 seed, but Green’s performance was spectacular. In Michigan State’s second game against upstart St Louis, Green had 16 points and 13 boards. He dominated on the glass and helped Sparty hold the Billikens to 35% shooting for the game. Michigan State will go as far as Green can take them, and right now it looks like he could take them all the way to the championship.

Honorable Mention: Bradley Beal, Florida; Jae Crowder, Marquette

Best Game: Louisville 59 - New Mexico 56

If you love defense and rebounding, this was the game for you. This second round matchup between fifth seeded New Mexico and fourth seeded Louisville was a slugfest up until the end. Led by UCLA transfer Drew Gordon, the Lobos of New Mexico brought a ton of energy to this third round (technically the play-ins are the first round) matchup. Offensively, these teams were at a contrast throughout the game. The Lobos dominated the boards, outrebounding the Cardinals by 11 and grabbing 9 more offensive rebounds. Louisville shot 46% from beyond the arc while New Mexico struggled to find their stroke from outside. 

In the end, Louisville was able to walk away victorious, but either team could have won the game. Cardinals guard Russ Smith was a spark off the bench, hitting 3/3 from downtown, and was the difference in the game. Drew Gordon was fantastic for the Lobos, scoring 21 points and grabbing 14 boards. This game did not have the upset drama that a Missouri-Norfolk St. game had, but it was a better-played game by both sides. It was the best game so far of the Western bracket.

Biggest What-if: Murray State’s Outside Shooting

The Murray State Racers would have been a great Cinderella story in this tournament. Unfortunately, their outside shooting let them down. Despite their poor outside shooting in their first matchup, Murray State was able to overwhelm the significantly less-talented Colorado State Buffaloes. Murray wasn’t so lucky in their second game. Done in by their 4/21 shooting from outside the arc, the Racers lost to the Marquette Golden Eagles 62-53. Murray State was excellent defensively, holding Marquette to 38% shooting, but they couldn’t buy a shot. Racers guard Isaiah Canaan was unable to hit his shots in either of Murray’s two tournament games. A 45% three-point shooter on the season, Canaan hit only 3/14 from downtown in the tournament and shot just 8/30 overall. As a team, the Racers shot just 23% in their two games. Murray’s defense was active and effective in this tournament, but in the end their poor perimeter shooting did them in.

Let CHARGED.fm get you tickets to the NCAA Tournament West Regional in Phoenix.

Comments (1)
  1. Joe Brown's profile

    Joe Brown

    March 22nd, 2012 @4:36

    Taylor Armosino is one of the better basketball writers out there. Very underrated. Hire this man full time somewhere!!

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