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THE SWEET 16 BRACKET
SETH DAVIS
March 28, 2011
WEST
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March 28, 2011

The Sweet 16 Bracket

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WEST

CONNECTICUT beats SAN DIEGO STATE

People need to talk less about Kemba Walker's skill and more about his will. The Huskies' 6'1" junior guard looked battered in the late stages of the third-round game against Cincinnati, but he still had 33 points and six boards and made all 14 of his free throws. Walker trusts freshman wings Jeremy Lamb and Roscoe Smith more than he did earlier this season, which makes UConn that much tougher to defend. The Aztecs showed resilience in beating Temple in double OT, but guard D.J. Gay & Co. do not have enough offensive firepower to keep up with Walker and his running mates.

DUKE BEATS ARIZONA

It's not often that the Blue Devils play a game in which they don't have the best player on the court, but that will be the case here. Wildcats 6'8" sophomore forward Derrick Williams is the best player in the tournament, and his multifaceted skills pose a challenge for Duke. Then again, the Blue Devils' guard tandem of Nolan Smith and Kyrie Irving is an equally vexing problem for the Wildcats. Irving will benefit from additional days of practice, which will allow the coaching staff to figure out the best way to deploy him. Williams will get his stats, but Duke's strength on the perimeter will be the difference.

DUKE beats CONNECTICUT

This is the sexiest regional final on the board. These storied programs have waged some of the most memorable games in the history of the tournament, and they feature two dynamic guards in Walker and Smith. Finally, though, the Huskies' youth will catch up with them. The UConn freshmen have made great strides in the last month, but Walker has a tendency to try to be a hero and force shots. The key to the game will be Duke's 6'10" Plumlee brothers, Mason and Miles, who have active bodies but don't always compete as hard as they should. This time they will, and they'll send the Blue Devils back to the Final Four.

EAST

NORTH CAROLINA beats MARQUETTE

I keep waiting for North Carolina freshman point guard Kendall Marshall (14 assists with just four turnovers against Washington) to get flustered ... and I'm still waiting. With Marshall playing with poise and setting a quick tempo, UNC poses too many problems for the Golden Eagles, who must rely on their perimeter defense because they can't match the Tar Heels' size. The front line of Harrison Barnes, Tyler Zeller and John Henson will overpower Marquette, which isn't going to be bailed out again by the shooting of junior guard Darius Johnson-Odom.

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