NCAA Bracket West Regional
#1 Michigan State vs. #16 Long Island
The reigning Northeast Conference champions have their hands full with top seeded Michigan State. LIU will need big contributions from a number of sources to keep this one close, few more important than starting guard Mike Culpo, a Massachusetts native and St. Andrew’s alum who has been a critical component to both of the Blackbirds’ NEC championships.
#2 Missouri vs. #15 Norfolk State
Missouri is a fan favorite program in New England with three of the region’s former stars now playing critical roles for Frank Haith’s club. Former Notre Dame Prep swingman Kimmie English averages just under 15 points per game for the club while the Phil and Matt Pressey, both of whom spent time at Cushing Academy, are also pillars of the team’s success. Phil runs the show from the point, handing out over six assists per game while Matt is the versatile role player who sees 30 minutes of action per night. Norfolk State has a pair of former New England prep products in the backcourt as well. Point guard Quasim Pugh spent time at both Worcester Academy and St. Thomas More while shooting guard Winston Graham is a product of Lee Academy.
#3 Marquette vs. #14 BYU or Iona
The first two guards off Marquette’s bench are familiar faces as freshman Derrick Wilson is a product of the Hotchkiss School while classmate Todd Mayo starred at Notre Dame Prep last year. Mayo is the second unit’s leading scorer at just under nine points per game. BYU starting forward Charles Abouo is a product of Brewster Academy averaging over 11 points per game and 6.5 rebounds per game. BYU defeated an Iona team in last night’s play-in game that featured Sean Armand, who spent time at Notre Dame Prep two years ago.
#4 Louisville vs. #13 Davidson
Former Northfield Mount Hermon swingman Mike Marra was just one of the season ending injuries that plagued Louisville’s fall, but the Cardinals bounced back to score an unlikely Big East championship. Russ Smith, a former South Kent guard, has emerged as one of the unlikely heroes. He is the team’s second leading scorer at over 11 points per game and leads the team in points per 40 minutes. Smith is joined by former Notre Dame Prep swingman Angel Nunez who has seen action in 12 games this season.
#5 New Mexico vs. #12 Long Beach State
Long Beach State comes all the way from California with a pair of former New England prep products anchoring the frontline. Former Winchendon forward Larry Anderson is the team’s second leading scorer at 14 points per game while T.J. Robinson, who graduated from Kolbe Cathedral before doing a post-graduate year at St. Thomas More, averages a double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds. Another former St. Thomas More product, Danny Jennings, is currently sitting out following his transfer from West Virginia.
#6 Murray State vs. #11 Colorado State
The west regional’s only game without a New England product.
#7 Florida vs. #10 Virginia
St. Mark’s alum and Rhode Island native Erik Murphy has had a breakout junior season in Gainesville, averaging nearly 11 points and 26 minutes per night while stretching defenses to the tune of .442 shooting from behind the arc as Florida’s starting power forward. Virginia big man Assane Sene is a product of the South Kent School but will be held out of the tournament due to injury.
#8 Memphis vs. #9 St. Louis
Brewster Academy product Will Barton took Conference USA Player of the Year honors as just a sophomore at Memphis while averaging over 18 points, 8 rebounds, 3 steals, and one assist per game. Barton’s brother, Antonio Barton, who spent a post-graduate year at Notre Dame Prep, continued to play meaningful rotation minutes off the bench this year. He’ll see some familiar faces in this match-up as St. Louis has a trio of former Notre Dame Prep products including point guard Jordair Jett, Toledo transfer Jake Barnett, and power forward Grandy Glaze.