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Breaking Down the West Region
The #1 Seed: Gonzaga, The 'Zags only lost once one time the entire season. The difference between this Gonzaga team and previous Gonzaga teams is defense. Mark Few's team can definitely score still but they also have the ability to lock people down on the defensive end.
The Sleeper: #5 Notre Dame. Mike Brey's recent Irish teams have played their best basketball during the NCAA tournament. Notre Dame, if they get by #11 Princeton, has the toughness to beat West Virginia's press and the firepower offensively to give Gonzaga trouble.
1st Round Match-up I Can't Wait to See: #3 Florida State vs. #14 Florida State Gulf Coast. Do you remember Florida Gulf Coast team from a couple of years ago? Dunk City? Well, this FGCU team isn't quite as high flying as that team but they do have athletes that will not be afraid of the moment. Florida State, on the other hand, is full of athletes and scorers: Jonathan Isaac, Xavier Rathan-Mayes, and Dwayne Bacon are all very good players for Leonard Hamilton and the Seminoles play about 12 players. I am not quite ready to call the upset in this one but it should be entertaining at least.
Must-Watch Player in Region: Allonzo Trier, Arizona. Trier missed the first part of the season serving a suspension for performance enhancing drugs. Arizona was playing good basketball without him but once Trier became eligible, Arizona became a legitimate final 4 contender. They won the PAC12 tournament and Trier was a big part of their success.
Best Match up Before the Elite 8: #3 Florida State vs #2 Arizona. I am going a little chalky with this one but it fits the criteria. If these 2 meet, there will likely be 5 first round draft picks in June's NBA draft on the court at the same time. Get ready for some scoring and some athletes in this one.
The Potential Shocker: Northwestern beating #9 Vanderbilt and #1 Gonzaga to reach the Sweet 16 in their first tournament appearance ever. Northwestern recently got their top scorer, Scottie Lindsey, back from mononucleosis. It took Lindsey a few games to get his conditioning back. Once he did, though, the Wildcats have looked much more like the team that was a 'lock' for the tournament rather than the team the stumbled down the stretch.
Who Is Going to Come Out of the West: Going against my own potential shocker in the region, i am taking Mark Few and the Zags to make their first final four. Gonzaga can score as well as previous Gonzaga teams but can defend better. They also beat Tennessee, Florida, Arizona (without Allonzo Trier), and Iowa State in non-conference portion of the schedule. I am on the bandwagon.