WEST REGIONAL PREVIEW:
Is this the year the Zags finally break through and make it to the Final Four? They’ve had some good teams in Spokane, specifically the Adam Morrison team in 2006 many thought could get them to the promised land. However that season is more remembered for his tears in a loss to eventual national runner-up UCLA than it is for any glory.
This is the first time they’ve earned a #1 seed, which installs them automatically as the Vegas favorite to get to Atlanta (as well as make their first Elite Eight since 1999). But will they advance? There is a good chance in your bracket pool the Zags have already been identified as the #1 seed most vulnerable to the upset… but are they really? Let’s break down the West Region and take a look at who is going to survive.
The top half opponent that everyone has circled, and for good reason, is the Wisconsin Badgers. Wisconsin is a frustrating, tempo controlling opponent. I expect them to have little trouble rattling the unstable Ole Miss Rebels in the opener and likely advancing to meet Kansas State in a great second round matchup. Aside from K-State’s three losses to Kansas, they’ve had a brilliant season. They’ve beaten Florida and Oklahoma State and are a dangerous Final Four sleeper.
The bottom half of the bracket contains the hottest team in the best league in the country as a #2 seed, Ohio State. I wonder if some of their offensive deficiencies will show at some point in the tourney though. It’ll be tough to win six games on grit alone. The other top seeds in the bottom of the bracket are New Mexico and Arizona. I like New Mexico to advance, as they are a more steady and more complete team than Arizona (who will be lucky to survive Belmont).
Overall, I like Gonzaga and Wisconsin in the top half of the bracket, with Gonzaga advancing, and in the bottom give me New Mexico in an upset over Ohio State. I can easily see Gonzaga winning this region, but I am going to go with the value wager of New Mexico advancing to their first ever Final Four.
New Mexico: 5/1
Kansas State: 16/1
Longshot: Notre Dame 30/1
I like Gonzaga, but at 12/5 with a losable second round possible game against Pitt, a losable Sweet 16 game against Wisconsin/Kansas State – it’s a tough road to navigate for just better than 2 to 1 odds.
My Pick to Win the West: New Mexico Lobos