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NCAA West region capsules

By Emily Wright
Globe Correspondent / March 15, 2011

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1. Duke

Record: 30-4

Best win: North Carolina

Player to watch: Nolan Smith, a senior guard who leads the team in scoring, averages 21.3 points, 5.1 assists and 4.6 rebounds. Smith was the game's high scorer with 20 points against North Carolina in the ACC title game Sunday.

Notable: After losing 81-67 to North Carolina in the final game of the regular season on March 5, the Blue Devils defeated the Tar Heels 75-58 in the tournament title game on Sunday.

2. San Diego State

Record: 32-2

Best win: BYU

Player to watch: Kawhi Leonard, a 6-7 sophomore, was recently named NABC First-Team All District 17 for his 15.4 ppg and 10.7 rpg.

Notable: The Aztecs defeated BYU in the MWC title game 72-54 after the Cougars handed San Diego State its only two losses in the regular season.

3. Connecticut

Record: 26-9

Best win: Pittsburgh

Player to watch: Kemba Walker, the Big East Tournament MVP, averages 23.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.3 assists. He hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to win Thursday’s quarterfinals against third-ranked Pittsburgh 76-74.

Notable: The Huskies were considered an underdog entering the Big East tournament, but won five games in five days and knocked off No. 22 Georgetown, No. 3 Pittsburgh, No. 11 Syracuse and No. 14 Louisville on their way to winning the title for the first time in seven years.

4. Texas

Record: 27-7

Best win: Kansas

Player to watch: Sophomore Jordan Hamilton is a versatile guard who averages 18.6 points and 7.6 rebounds.

Notable: Although the Longhorns lost to Kansas in the Big 12 championship, Texas has proved its belongs with road victories against the Jayhawks and Michigan State.

5. Arizona

Record: 27-7

Best win: California

Player to watch: 6-foot, 8-inch sophomore forward Derrick Williams, who averages 19.1 points and 8.1 rebounds, while shooting 60 percent on threes, was named the Pac-10 Player of the Year.

Notable: Arizona advanced to the Pac-10 title game, but lost to Washington 77-75 in the final seconds of overtime. Arizona was 1-1 against the Huskies in the regular season.

6. Cincinnati

Record: 25-8

Best win: Louisville

Player to watch: 6-foot, 9-inch forward Yancy Gates scores 11.8 ppg and averages 6.8 rpg.

Notable: The Bearcats started the season with a 15-0 win streak before losing to its first ranked opponent, Villanova (72-61).

7. Temple

Record: 25-7

Best win: Georgetown

Player to watch: A-10 All-Conference second team selection Ramone Moore is averaging 14.9 points.

Notable: The Owls feature balanced scoring with five players averaging double figures. Defense is the one constant, while Temple has struggled offensively in some games.

8. Michigan

Record: 20-13

Best win: Michigan State

Player to watch: The Wolverines are led by sophomore Darius Morris, who averages 15.2 points, 6.7 assists and 3.9 rebounds.

Notable: The Wolverines went 3-6 in January with losses against Wisconsin, Kansas, Ohio State, Indiana, Northwestern and Minnesota, but then stepped back in the picture by winning seven of their last 10, including road wins at Penn State, Iowa, and Minnesota.

9. Tennessee

Record: 19-14

Best win: Pittsburgh

Player to watch: First team All-SEC selection Scotty Hopson leads the Vols with a 17.6 scoring average.

Notable: After a 7-0 start to the season, capped by an 83-76 victory over No. 3 Pittsburgh, the Vols played below .500 the rest of the way and had to endure an eight-game suspension for their coach for recruiting violations.

10. Penn State

Record: 19-14

Best win: Wisconsin

Player to watch: Talor Battle averages 20 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3 assists.

Notable: On March 11, Penn State beat Wisconsin 36-33 in its lowest scoring game of the year. Oenn State lost to Wisconsin 76-66 on February 20.

11. Missouri

Record: 23-10

Best win: Kansas State

Player to watch: Junior Marcus Denmon averages 17.1 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 1.8 steals and shoots 46 percent from 3-point range.

Notable: The Tigers are No. 9 in the country for scoring (81.4 ppg) and 13th in assists per game (16.5). They finished the season with four losses in their last five games.

12. Memphis

Record: 25-9

Best win: UTEP

Player to watch: Will Barton, a freshman guard who was named to the All-Conference USA third team, averages 12.3 points, 5 rebounds and 2.8 assists.

Notable: Memphis trailed UTEP by 12 with 6:12 left in the Conference USA championship Saturday before going on a 17-4 run to win 67-66, and clinch an NCAA berth for the first time since John Calipari left two years ago. The Tigers’ key players, Barton, Joe Jackson and Tarik Black, are all freshmen.

13. Oakland

Record: 25-9

Best win: Tennessee

Player to watch: Keith Benson, a 6-11 center, averages 18 points, 10.1 rebounds, 3.6 blocks and is a potential NBA draft choice.

Notable: Oakland has won 48 of its past 51 games against conference opponents and won the Summit League championship for the second straight season. It is the Grizzlies’ third NCAA tournament berth.

14. Bucknell

Record: 25-8

Best win: BU

Player to watch: Patriot League Player of the Year Mike Muscala, a 6-11 sophomore forward, averages 14.9 points and 7.4 rebounds. He scored 18 points in the conference title game and was tournament MVP.

Notable: Bucknell has won one game in each of its last two NCAA appearances, including an upset of Kansas in 2005 and Arkansas in 2006.

15. Northern Colorado

Record: 21-10

Best win: Montana

Player to watch: Devon Beitzel, the Big Sky Conference MVP, averages 21.4 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 1.8 assistspg and shoots 38 percent from deep.

Notable: This is Northern Colorado’s first appearance in the NCAA tournament, led by Beitzel, who scored 27 points in the BSC title game over Montana.

16. Hampton

Record: 24-8

Best win: Colorado State

Player to watch: The Pirates’ scoring is led by junior Darrion Pellum who averages 17.7 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2 assists.

Notable: The Pirates took home their fourth MEAC tournament championship Saturday with a 60-55 defeat of Morgan State, a team that they lost to in the regular season. The Pirates beat Colorado State, BU, and George Washington this season, and are fifth in the nation in field goal percentage defense (38.1)