March Madness West Region Breakdown

 

 

Your First Round Guide to the West Region of the bracket

 

#1 Xavier vs #16 Texas Southern

 

#8 Missouri vs #9 Florida State

 

#5 Ohio State vs #12 South Dakota State

 

#4 Gonzaga vs # 13 UNCG

 

#6 Houston vs # 11 SDSU

 

#3 Michigan vs #14 Montana

 

#7 Texas A&M vs #10 Providence

 

#2 UNC vs #15 Lipscomb

 

#1 Xavier vs #16 Texas Southern:

    March is Mad. But not this mad. No #1 seed has ever lost to a #16. Will it happen? Maybe someday, but today isn’t that day. Texas Southern has a scoring margin on -2, facing the best Xavier team we have seen in awhile. A team that struggled to defend weak competition will struggle mightily against an Xavier squad with stud guard Trevon Bluiett, and seven other players average at least seven points. Xavier should shred Texas Southern, and expect this one to be over quickly.

The Pick: Xavier

 

#8 Missouri vs #9 Florida State

    This game could be the most interesting game of the first round. With Michael Porter back, Missouri becomes a dangerous team. Florida State is one of the tallest teams in the country, and use it to their advantage and forcing teams to settle for outside shots. Only problem is Missouri 38.5% from deep, and will likely use Michael Porter more than the 12.5 minutes he’s gotten in two games of action. Florida State has had one of the better offenses in the country, averaging 81 points per game. The Seminoles faded down the stretch however, going 6-6 over their last 12. Look for Missouri to spread the Florida State out early with some triples.

 

The Pick: Missouri

 

#5 Ohio State vs #12 South Dakota State

    The most common upset pick of the West Region bracket, South Dakota State brings in one of the the best players in the country in Mike Daum, and an offense averaging 84.9 points per game. The Buckeyes are led by their own star in Keita Bates-Diop, who averaged 19 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. South Dakota State hits 40.3% of their triples, and limit their turnovers. The Buckeyes defense only allows 66 points per game, and if they can hold the Daum and the Jackrabbits around the 66 point mark, there’s a good chance Ohio State wins this game. If this turns into a shootout, Ohio State doesn’t have the firepower to hang with South Dakota State.

The Pick: South Dakota State

 

#4 Gonzaga vs #13 UNCG

    Gonzaga is back after their loss to UNC in the National Championship game, and couldn’t be in a better spot. In arguable the weakest side of the bracket, Gonzaga could face UNC in the Elite Eight, and maybe book punch their ticket to the Final Four. First though, comes UNCG. UNCG shuts down its opponents, holding them to a 62.4 scoring average, and held ETSU to just 47 points in the Southern Conference title game. Offensively, the Spartans are led by Francis Alonso, with 16 points per game, but don’t have a clear cut number two player. They also don’t shoot the ball very well, connecting on 35.8% of their triples. Gonzaga may be too much for UNCG to handle. The Bulldogs post 5 players in double figures, and Killian Tillie finished the year hitting a whopping 50% of his triples. Gonzaga can score in too many different ways. If you like the close games, this one may disappoint.

The Pick: Gonzaga

 

#6 Houston vs #11 SDSU

Talk about a coin flip game. Houston has shot up very quickly thanks to senior guard Rob Gray and his 18.5 points per game. Houston is also rock solid on the defensive end, allowing 65.2 points per game, good for 23rd in the country. Houston is one of the smaller teams in the tourney, and San Diego State is on of the bigger, more physical teams in the country. Houston does hit 38.9% of its threes, including 44% from Corey Davis Jr, and they will need them to drop in this game. San Diego State on the other hand, has five players average at least 10 points, but shoot an abysmal 33.8% from behind the arc. With their size and physical brand of basketball, I see it giving Houston fits. This game is the definition of a toss up. My gut wants to go with Houston, but San Diego State is rolling.

The Pick: San Diego State

 

#3 Michigan vs #14 Montana

    The Wolverines enter March with their second straight Big 10 tourney title, and a very balanced team. Defensively, Michigan allows just 63.5 points per game, good for 9th nationally. Offensively, Moritz Wagner leads the team with 14 points per game, followed by Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman with 12.6. Montana is dangerous team for anybody in this tournament. Led by Oregon Transfer Ahmaad Rorie, the Grizzlies post 78 points per game and conceded 68 per game. The Grizzlies are a very opportunistic bunch however, with 4 players averaging at least 1 steal per game. Michigan is playing too well right now however. This game could be closer than people anticipate.

The Pick: Michigan

 

#7 Texas A&M vs #10 Providence

    The Aggies play a throwback brand of basketball. They don’t shoot the three very well, but own the 6th tallest roster in D1. Bigmen Robert Williams and Tyler Davis combine for 25 points and 18 rebounds per game, and the entire team is set on playing throwback, physical basketball. Unfortunately for Providence, their weakness plays right into Texas A&M’s strengths. They do sport a balanced scoring attack with five players averaging at least seven points, but shoot just 33.3% as a team from distance. Not the kind of numbers you’d like against a team that uses its size to its advantage.

The Pick: Texas A&M

    #2 UNC vs #15 Lipscomb

        First off, where is Lipscomb, and has anyone ever heard of it? My guess is they will stay unknown to the rest of America, as they shoot just 33% from behind the arc and struggle with holding onto the basketball. They do like the play fast, and have a stud in guard Garrison Mathews, who averages 22.1 points per game. UNC is UNC. They are efficient on offense, play very solid defense, and will force Lipscomb to beat them from outside. I’ll bet on Joel Berry, Luke Maye, and Theo Pinson.

The Pick: UNC

 

Players to Watch:

Trevon Bluitt, Xavier

Michael Porter Jr, Missouri

Keita Bates-Diop, Ohio State

Mike Daum, South Dakota State

Rob Gray, Houston

Moritz Wagner, Michigan

Robert Williams, Texas A&M

Joel Berry, UNC

Garrison Mathews, Lipscomb

 

The West region could be the easiest, or most chaotic region in this bracket. I see a lot of upset potential in later rounds, and there could be some big shake-ups come the sweet sixteen.

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