Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Sportz Assassin's West Region Preview

TEAM TO BEAT: Xavier. The Musketeers reached the Elite 8 last year before losing to Gonzaga. This year, they will attempt to take that next step and reach their first Final Four. They have the studs to do so (Trevon Bluiett) and an offense that can pile points on anybody. 

TEAM THAT WILL WIN THE REGION: North Carolina. There are some great teams in this region but I think the North Carolina-Michigan winner in the Sweet 16 comes out of this region. UNC beat Michigan handily earlier this season. The Tar Heels have won 11 of their last 12 NCAA Tournament games (the one they lost was at the buzzer) and beat more Quadrant 1 teams than anyone in the field. They could also be upset early on but they have the pedigree and experience to get back to the Final Four. 

TEAM TO WATCH FOR (LESS THAN A NO. 3 SEED): Gonzaga. The Bulldogs are being overlooked in this region.  The defending runners-up lost a lot from last year's team but just retooled for another run. Killian Tillie, Johnathan Williams and Josh Perkins lead a pretty formidable offense that is 9th in scoring and 14th in rebounding.  

YOUR CINDERELLA: Providence. The Friars played three overtime games in the Big East tournament, including a win against Xavier and a loss to Villanova in the title game. They did beat Villanova in February so while they aren't the best team in the tournament, they have the team that won't quit and be a thorn in the side in whomever they play..   

WORST SEEDING ERROR: Missouri. The Tigers were a team that was on the secure side of the bubble before bringing Michael Porter, Jr. back after a season-long back injury. His return didn't go well as he was clearly rusty and disrupted the rotation. This isn't a horrible seeding error, but an 8-seed?.    

HOME COURT ADVANTAGE: Gonzaga. North Carolina has a great home court advantage in Charlotte the first two rounds but it ends there.  Gonzaga will play nearby in Boise before possibly heading to Los Angeles. 

MUST WATCH GAME: Texas A&M vs Providence. Two teams that don't always play up to potential will go at it in Charlotte on Friday. Coming into the tournament, A&M doesn't exude confidence while Providence made an inspired run in the Big East tournament. Neither team piles up the points so the game should be close throughout with the winner getting North Carolina.

MUST WATCH (POTENTIAL) SECOND ROUND GAME: Gonzaga vs Ohio State.  Gonzaga hasn't played a tournament team since before Christmas which was exactly the same time Ohio State went on that 8 game winning streak (and 12 of 13) where they beat Michigan State and Purdue. These two could make a run deep into the tournament ... yet one's season will definitely end by this day..

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