Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Sportz Assassin's West Region Preview

TEAM TO BEAT: Gonzaga. Well, the Zags get their shot at being the top dog.  The rest of the hoops nation want to know just how legit this team is.  They have star power ... and doubters.  They have experience ... but not as the hunted.  This will be a huge test for the Gonzaga program.

TEAM THAT WILL WIN THE REGION: Ohio State. When looking at the schools who are the top seeds in this region, only Ohio State truly impresses me.  Deshaun Thomas is probably the best (and most important to his team) player in the region.  They have experience and toughness after dealing with the Big Ten schedule.

TEAM TO WATCH FOR (LESS THAN A NO. 3 SEED): Wisconsin. I'm a big Bo Ryan guy and think he gets a lot out of his players.  Well, he has a great shot to beat Ole Miss in the second round before moving aside Kansas State.  From there, it will be interesting to see how Gonzaga handles that Wisconsin patience and discipline.

YOUR CINDERELLA: Belmont. They have all the Cinderella criteria.  They've been here before, they are experienced and they have a big team in front of them who is ripe for a knockout.

WORST SEEDING ERROR: Pittsburgh. They lost just 7 games all year despite navigating that tough Big East.  They've been ranked most of the year and yet are just an 8-seed?  These Panthers, though not as talented as past Pitt teams, could make noise with a 2nd round upset of Gonzaga.

HOME COURT ADVANTAGE: Arizona. Ohio State does get to spend the first weekend in their backyard, but LA is a long drive, eh?  Arizona starts up one state north in Utah for the first weekend before possibly sliding west to Los Angeles for the regional finals (meanwhile playing the state school east of them along the way).

MUST WATCH GAME: Wisconsin vs Ole Miss. It is rare to see Wisconsin involved in a "must watch" game since the play a deliberate style, but it will be interesting to see them handle Ole Miss' Marshall Henderson.

MUST WATCH (POTENTIAL) SECOND ROUND GAME: Ohio State vs Notre Dame. This would be the sexiest matchup (or would it be New Mexico-Arizona?).  Both fan bases will be in full effect in Dayton with two representatives of the best conferences squaring off in a tough guy contest.

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