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NCAA Tournament: West will appeal to Utah fans

Local basketball fans have plenty of reasons to tune in.

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Outlook » The Badgers will have a pronounced home-court advantage in this one, playing so close to their Madison campus. So American will have to be perfect to compete in this one. Which is not exactly easy to do against this Bo Ryan-coached team.

At a glance

West Region: What to look for

Top player » In a region featuring Marcus Smart, Nick Johnson, Xavier Thames and Aaron Gordon, it’s Creighton’s Doug McDermott. Good luck trying to stop the best scorer in the country.

Top team » Arizona has been one of the best teams in the country for the entire season. That won’t change in this region. Expect the Wildcats to use stout defense on their way to the Final Four. They are simply too tough.

Best player you don’t know » BYU’s Tyler Haws is well known locally, but this is a national honor. As an elite scorer, he’s capable of carrying the Cougars to the Sweet 16..

Sleeper team » Baylor’s been playing its best basketball over the last three weeks. As a result, Scott Drew’s team has gone from a bubble team to a No. 6 seed. Isaiah Austin and Cory Jefferson are one of the best frontcourt duos in the region.

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No. 3 Creighton (26-7) vs. No. 14 Louisiana-Layayette (23-11)

At San Antonio | Friday, 1:10 p.m., truTV

Outlook » Creighton is too big. Has too much shooting. It’s too efficient. And has too much Doug McDermott. This is a tough draw for the Cajuns. McDermott’s last hurrah through the tournament could be a long one. Don’t be surprised to see the Jays in the regional final.

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No. 4 San Diego State (29-4) vs. No. 13 New Mexico State (26-9)

At Spokane, Wash. | Thursday, 7:57 p.m., truTV

Outlook » Every year, New Mexico State looks like a popular upset pick. And then every year it flames out in its initial game. That’s not going to change this season, considering that San Diego State is one of the best defensive teams in the field.

No. 5 Oklahoma (23-9) vs. No. 12 North Dakota State (25-6)

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