With La Salle cruising to an 80-71 victory over Boise State, the West region is completely set for the weekend’s action in the NCAA Tournament. Here’s a look at the overall layout, reactions, and predictions for the region.
Overall Regional Toughness Ranking – 2nd
The top four seeds aren’t as tough as the Midwest region (Louisville, Duke, Michigan State, St. Louis), but this is likely the deepest region in the bracket. Wisconsin brings in a defense that’s been hard to match up with all season long, Ohio State has stormed onto the scene as of late and took the Big Ten Tournament last week, Iowa State presents one of the most dangerous perimeter threats in the nation, and both Belmont and Iona bring top-ranked scoring offenses into the field.
Favorite Pick In Region – Ohio State Buckeyes
Lots of experts peg the Big Ten as the best conference in the nation. With the Buckeyes’ run through the tournament just a week ago, that remains fresh in their mind, along with the assumption that Gonzaga is by far the weakest top-seed in the tournament.
Team That’s Seeded Too High – Arizona Wildcats
Whatever the committee’s excuse was about under-seeding Oregon and California, it definitely placed Arizona well too high. Strength of schedule definitely raises the RPI, but losing three of their last five and having a 274th-ranked 3-point shooting percentage on defense won’t help their first test of the tournament.
Team That’s Seeded Too Low – Belmont Bruins
The resume doesn’t necessarily favor a higher seed than 11th, but just watching this team shows how much talent there is on the offensive end. Yes, they may get killed by any physical teams and they lack size to collect the boards, but the defense can force turnovers and the defense holding teams to 64.6 points per game isn’t too bad for a mid-major.
How Far Iowa State Cyclones Will Go – Third round vs. Ohio State
Without watching them play in the tournament yet, the Cyclones indeed received a favorable draw as far as matchups go. They can outscore everyone until a potentially, very interesting matchup against Gonzaga, but their inconsistent season will likely end against a very hot Buckeyes team.
Guaranteed Second Round Victory – Kansas State Wildcats over La Salle Explorers
Perhaps quite a few people have KSU as an overrated team with not being able to compete with Kansas in two of their three matchups this season. Unfortunately for La Salle, they don’t have much to compete with the Wildcats’ size. Unless they can keep Kansas State from rebounding offensively, forcing turnovers, and/or getting some key players like Angel Rodriguez or Rodney McGruder in foul trouble, it could be a long day for the Explorers.
Prediction For Regional Final – Gonzaga Bulldogs vs. New Mexico Lobos
Most experts will have Ohio State at least in this regional’s final, but I believe the Big Ten teams will be snubbed from the west. New Mexico will prove that the Mountain West is one of the nation’s elite conferences as they edge out a close victory over the region’s top seed.