Picking Your 2011 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament Bracket: Predicting The Mountain West And Finding Cinderella

Ever wish that more things worked like college brackets? That you could seed everything that way? Top 64 pre-game foods. Top 64 college players. Well, now you can do just that with your friends, with the Allstate BFF Brackets, which takes your 64 top Facebook friends (an algorithm seeds them based on interaction) and seeds them in four regions, exactly like the real tourney. Once the tourney starts, your friends advance with the corresponding seeds – till one is left standing. Check it out at http://apps.facebook.com/bffbrackets

The 2011 NCAA tournament field is set and now it is time to take a look at the bracket indepth and take a look how the three Mountain West teams will fare, also I will take a look and see what double-digit seed has a chance to make a run in the tournament.

The San Diego St. Aztecs drew a No. 2 seed out West and in my opinion are the best team in that bracket due to their record of 32-2 and that the West regional third- and four-round games will be played just two hours north in Anaheim, Calif. The top seed in that region is the Duke Blue Devils, but their seed is a bit inflated due to their lack of wins over NCAA tournament teams. The other challenger which might be more difficult is the third-seeded Connecticut Huskies. Usually I don't put travel into consideration, but with San Diego State's top two challengers will be traveling across the country while San Diego State will have a quick trip up the coast and will have a home crowd advantage. Also, consider that Duke and to a lesser extent Connecticut are not fan favorite teams and will not have a big rooting section.

First off, San Diego State takes on the Northern Colorado Bears who won the Big Sky Conference regular season and postseason tournament to secure their bid. The two teams play on Thursday at 4:20 p.m. ET in Tucson, Ariz., and the game will be on TNT Kevin Harlan, Reggie Miller and Dan Bonner. There is no reason the Aztecs should lose this game.

The potential second round game will be against the winner of No. 7 Temple and No. 10 Penn State. This is the same Penn State team that scored only 33 points in a three-point loss to Wisconsin the Big 10 tournament. While Temple's best wins were against Georgetown early in the season and they beat Atlantic-10 champ Richmond Spiders once. Again, the Aztecs should have no problem making it to the Sweet 16, but one cautionary note is that San Diego State has never won a NCAA tournament game ever.

The rest of the West region that should make it to Anaheim should be Duke, UConn, San Diego State and either Texas or Arizona. With Texas' recent slide I will go with Arizona making it to Sweet 16. Those matchups would be No. 3 UConn vs. No. 2 San Diego State and then No. 5 Arizona vs. No. 1 Duke. Outside of San Diego State that bracket has a lot of great tournament history involved, but the Aztecs have experience in their coach Steve Fisher who took Michigan to a national championship and Final Four run with the Fab Five.

UConn has Kemba Walker which will be tough for any Aztec player to guard, but San Diego State has the size to compete with teams from better league and San Diego State will get past UConn and most likely take on Duke in the regional final. Biased aside for liking the Mountain West I think San Diego State can get  past Duke. The Aztecs will be in front of both a pro-Aztec crowd and an anti-Duke crowd. That is if Duke can get to the Elite Eight by beating Arizona. San Diego State to the Final Four is not a reach like Butler was last year or the 2006 George Mason team.

The BYU Cougars are the other Mountain West team that can make a deep NCAA tournament run since they have the best scorer in the NCAA tournament with Jimmer Fredette. The Cougars are a third seed and take on a a tough Wofford Terriers on Friday night at 7:15 p.m. ET on CBS. Wofford is a team who has the eighth-best field-goal percentage team and are an above average scoring team that scores 74 points per game, but their downside, which is BYU's gain since they are without Brandon Davies, is that Wofford is 289th in the nation in rebounds per game. BYU should be able to get by Wofford with ease, and with the game in Denver, Colo., the Cougars will have the edge in fans.

BYU will get past Wofford, but their next matchup will be the winner of No. 6 seeded St. John's or No. 11 Gonzaga. Playing Gonzaga would be a good storyline since the two schools will be in WCC next year. Gonzaga has underachieved this year, but they are hot and half won nine-straight with two wins over St. Mary's college in that stretch. This game seems like a toss-up, but again I will give BYU the edge with Jimmer Fredette leading BYU to their first Sweet 16 appearance since the 1981 NCAA tournament.

If BYU makes it to the Sweet 16 they will most likely take on the two-seeded Florida Gators -- who are ranked 15th in the nation and were given a very generous seed -- who BYU beat last year in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Florida has had some very questionable losses by losing to Jacksonville, South Carolina and Mississippi State. BYU can get past Florida and can make it to the Elite Eight as long as their scorers outside of Fredette show up.

Now, if BYU gets this far their matchup in the Elite Eight will most likely be top-seeded Pitt or No. 5 seeded Kansas State. Pitt always seems to come up short over the past few years, but this time might be different and I don't think BYU could beat either team. The best chance is against Kansas State since they are a streaky team. My estimation on BYU is that they will either make it to the Elite Eight or lose to Gonzaga in round two. 

UNLV has an unlike seed as they are the eighth seed and will take on a senior-laden Illinois team. UNLV has been playing better over the past month of the season outside of losing to Colorado State the Rebels have beaten who they are suppose to beat. Getting Illinois will be a homecoming of sorts since Kruger coached at Illinois for in the late nineties. UNLV getting past the second round would take a lot since they would be playing Kansas and unless the Rebels pull out some magic from the 2006-07 team then they are heading home

My upset pick for a lower seeded team that can make a tournament run to at least the Sweet 16 round is 12 seeded Utah State. The Aggies are seeded too low and probably deserved maybe a seven to 10 seed and their matchup to Kansas State is conducive to an upset as they were up-and-down all year and if Utah State can get past Kansas State they would get to play either Wisconsin or Belmont and move onto the Sweet 16. Beyond Utah State I don't see that many double-digit seeds making it past the first weekend. Actually, I could see Belmont get to the Sweet 16 if they get to play Utah State in round two, or Gonzaga if they can use their size advantage of BYU, assuming both of those underdogs get past the first round.

As for my Final Four picks I will go with San Diego State out West, Ohio State out East, Notre Dame from the Southwest bracket and Kansas State from the Southeast bracket. The Southeast bracket is the toughest to projected because Pitt has underachieved in tournament play the past few years, Florida is overrated in their seed, BYU is in a tough spot without Brandon Davies, so I could see any of those teams making the Final Four from that region.

My title game I think will be Notre Dame over Ohio State.

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