We’ll take a look back at what’s transpired so far in the West Region of the NCAA Tournament, and also project our winner in the Regional Final.
Glass Slipper comes off in “The Sweet 16”
With the exception of #6 seed Xavier (23-13), the West Region of the NCAA Tournament has pretty much played true to form. Xavier was an easy 76-57 winner over #11 seed Ole Miss in their second round game, and then defeated #14 seed Georgia State 75-67 to advance to the regional semifinals. On one hand the Musketeers have played awfully well in those two games. On the other hand, they caught a very fortunate draw in their third round game, resulting from Georgia State’s improbable come from behind upset win over #3 seed Baylor. Xavier will be hard pressed to match up with Arizona on Thursday, and the major sportsbooks agree since Xavier is currently a 10.0 point underdog.
Win and Advance for the Badgers
The West Region #1 seed Wisconsin Badgers (33-3) will be making their fifth consecutive “Sweet 16” appearance. The Badgers are winners of eight in a row, and have gone 18-1 in their last nineteen games. They had an easy time in their second round 86-72 win over #16 seed Coastal Carolina, and then fended off a game #8 seed Oregon Ducks team 72-65 on Sunday. In my opinion, Wisconsin’s Bo Ryan is the most underrated head coach in all of college basketball, and he’s definitely an X-factor moving forward.
The untamable Wildcats
Speaking of the #2 seed Arizona Wildcats (33-3), they had no trouble in their first two games of the tournament by disposing of #15 seed Texas Southern 93-72 and #10 seed Ohio State 73-58. Arizona has won their last thirteen games in a row, and is arguably playing the best right now compared to of any of the other sixteen teams still vying for a national title.
Beware of the Tar Heels
The real wild card of the four teams remaining in the West is the #4 seed North Carolina Tar Heels (26-11). They barely squeezed by #13 seed Harvard 67-65 in the second round, and then followed that up with an impressive 87-78 win over the #5 seed Arkansas. They’re a dynamic offensive team which is averaging 77.9 points per game, and has shot a stellar 47.6% from the floor this season. The Tar Heels have quality non-conference wins this season over Davidson 90-72, UCLA 78-56, and UAB 89-58. All three of those teams advanced to the third round of the 2015 NCAA Tournament. This is the first time in three years that North Carolina has advanced the “The Sweet 16”.
I’m looking for a rematch of last season’s West Regional Final between Arizona and Wisconsin. Although I don’t think that Wisconsin will have as easy a time of advancing compared to Arizona. It’s not so much that I don’t like Arizona, because needless to say, they’re an extremely talented team. I just love the experience, cohesiveness, and chemistry of Wisconsin. The Badgers are my NCAA Tournament pick to advance out of the West, and reach the “Final Four” for the second consecutive year.