West region again

I might not have been right about everything in the West region (far from it actually) but one thing I nailed was that there would be whining about the officiating in a UCLA game. That happened in the Bruins’ second-round game against Texas A&M, as a controversial no-call in the final seconds helped UCLA escape with a 51-49 victory Saturday.

Here’s a picture of the incident, where UCLA’s Josh Shipp appears to rake A&M guard Donald Sloan across the wrists to defend against his game-tying shot attempt, a move that’s clearly illegal. Yet there was no whistle.

Anyway, the Aggies are up in arms. There has been a Facebook group called “Refs gave game to UCLA (pics to prove it)” created, with Sloan being one of the key members. Either way, the A&M crowd, and random bitter USC and Pac-10 fans, have another way to vent.

Now to my venting on tomorrow’s West Region semifinal games:

No. 12 Western Kentucky vs. No. 1 UCLA
Anyone still upset about the Bruins being here, say your piece now (waiting…waiting…waiting…). Ok, UCLA, while not pretty against the Aggies, shouldn’t feel bad about winning that game. Etiwanda graduate Darren Collison was straight ballin’, with five 3-pointers and two skillfully-placed driving layups in the final minute, while Kevin Love was dominant both offensively and defensively. UCLA will continue to be a threat to win it all because of that defense, a D that gave up only 49 to the Aggies and 29 to Mississippi Valley State (who might be the worst Division I team I’ve seen live, by the way).
The Colonels are tied with Villanova for the lowest-remaining seed alive and have the buzzer-beating moment of the tournament, as Ty Rogers hit a 30-foot 3-pointer while almost falling out-of-bounds to shock Drake in the first round. Western Kentucky is good, but all Cinderellas must turn into a pumpkin. A 12 has never beaten a 1, a trend that won’t be stopped tomorrow.
Pick: UCLA

No. 7 West Virginia vs. No. 3 Xavier
The Mountaineers might be my best call of the tournament. In this space, I had them beating Duke and playing in the Sweet 16 and they pulled through, stomping the Blue Devils and making millions of Duke-haters across the country rejoice. Shockingly, this is WVU’s third foray into this round in four years – something that’s only been done by North Carolina, Memphis and UCLA. Pretty high ground for a program that’s rarely discussed among the country’s elite.
Xavier is back in the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2004 and quite frankly, made me look pretty stupid. The Musketeers, after being called the weakest three seed in a while by myself, have used big second halves to sink Georgia and Purdue.in the first two rounds.
But while I’ve been impressed with Xavier, I’m sticking to my guns. Make me look smart West Virginia.
Pick: West Virginia