Gonzaga was rewarded for the best regular season in school history.
With talk of the Zags being passed for a No. 1 seed, the NCAA Tournament Committee awarded Gonzaga the top seed, and Mark Few’s team will stay close to home and play in Salt Lake City.
Gonzaga’s Kelly Olynyk could be the best big man in the country. His defense and rebound elevated the Zags from good to great this year. By the end of the season, he was almost impossible to match up against.
While we love Gonzaga, New Mexico has the best team, the most well-rounded team and the best defensive team. Look for Kendall Williams to have a huge tournament.
As good as New Mexico is, Belmont looms as a dangerous team. Experienced rosters that shoot well are always difficult come tournament time. Belmont fits this description perfectly. Arizona? You have been warned.
Player that youdon’t know
Kerron Johnson is a dynamo of a point guard and could be the best player on the floor when Belmont matches up with Arizona on Thursday.
Best time for a fast break
Wichita State and Pittsburgh will struggle to get their matchup to the 60s. Eat a snack, do whatever you have to. Just come back for the final five dramatic minutes.
That makes the Bulldogs a favorite to reach the Final Four in Atlanta. Still, the first few rounds in the West Region will be good ones. You have a potential regional matchup with Ohio State and Notre Dame in the third round. Wisconsin and Kansas State also have the potential to see each other in the third round — another Midwestern duel with contrasting styles. New Mexico and Arizona are on track to meet in Salt Lake City on Saturday, while Gonzaga and Pittsburgh could see each other at EnergySolutions Arena at the end of the week.
Most observers see the West as one of the weakest regions in the field. While pundits seem to like Ohio State for its ability to score inside and out and its athleticism, New Mexico is the hot team and the team most capable of shutting its opponent off defensively.
If nothing else, this region is one worth watching because of the coaching star power. You have Jamie Dixon from Pittsburgh, Bruce Weber from Kansas State and Thad Motta from Ohio State. Mike Brey has won multiple coach of the year awards in the Big East for Notre Dame. Arizona’s Sean Miller is one of the best young coaches in the country. It would be remiss not to mention Steve Alford.
This promises to be an unpredictable region, one in which almost anyone can get hot and win it. This region holds a play-in game, with Boise State and La Salle matching up Tuesday for the right to face Kansas State. The Broncos are another team to watch. If they shoot 3-pointer s like they have all season, Boise can pose a threat to Lasalle and KSU.
— No. 1 Gonzaga vs. No. 16 Southern
Records • Gonzaga 31-2; Southern 23-9
Conferences • Gonzaga, WCC; Southern, SWAC
Outlook • The most interesting part of this game could be the Southern band, which is among the best in the country. As for basketball, the Zags could have issues with Pittsburgh and Jamie Dixon in the third round. Elias Harris and company won’t have any issues with the Jaguars. Expect a game that’s pretty much over by halftime here.
— No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 15 Iona
Records • Ohio State 26-7; Iona 20-13
Conferences • Ohio State, Big Ten; Iona, MAAC
Outlook • Take stock in Ohio State. The Buckeyes have great guard play, and DeShon Thomas is one of the best scorers in the country. OSU has the athleticism and the depth needed to make a deep run in the tournament, and many are picking Thad Motta’s group for the Final Four. It will be interesting to see if the Gaels can give this team a run.
— No. 3 New Mexico vs. No. 14 Harvard
Records • New Mexico 29-5; Harvard 19-9
Conferences • New Mexico, Mountain West; Harvard, Ivy League
Outlook • The Crimson would normally be a trendy upset pick, but the Lobos are just too good. They play excellent defense. Kendall Williams is the Mountain West Conference player of the year and a lethal scorer. Plus, New Mexico looks to have a sizable crowd advantage in Salt Lake City. The Lobos are good.Next Page >
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