March Madness Picks: West Region
With almost no upsets in the West region, Bryce looks at who will move on to the Sweet 16.
The West Region turns out to be the most normal region as each of the highest seeds advanced to the next round. This region is riddled with talent on all teams which will make for a very exciting Round of 32. Opportunity knocks for all these teams so let’s talk about it.
No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 8 Arkansas
Kansas struggled early against Howard and without their head coach Bill Self who is still recovering from heart surgery. If Self is not on the sideline against Arkansas, his absence may be felt more this game, but this Jayhawks team is loaded with talent top to bottom. The challenge for Kansas will be stopping Arkansas’ talented freshman guards Nick Smith Jr. and Anthony Black. The Razorbacks dominated a struggling Illinois team to easily move on to the next round. Unfortunately for Arkansas, this Kansas team will just be too much with junior forward Jalen Wilson, freshman guard Grady Dick and the Texas Tech transfer senior guard Kevin McCullar Jr.
No. 2 UCLA vs. No. 10 Northwestern
Northwestern was able to pull out the victory against Boise State to move on and play against UCLA. The Wildcats are led by a pair of senior guards Boo Buie and Chase Audige who do a bulk of their scoring, and without their scoring, the team struggles. UCLA boasts the best defense in the country and it did not miss a beat even with losing top defender Jaylen Clark during the Pac-12 Tournament and Adam Bona not playing in the first-round game of the NCAA Tournament. UCLA has playmakers all around from seniors guards Tyger Campbell and Jaime Jaquez Jr to freshman guard Amari Bailey. UCLA will advance to the Sweet 16 and continue their dominance.
No. 4 UConn vs. No. 5 Saint Mary’s
Iona gave UConn troubles in the first half, but the Huskies found their groove in the second half led by junior forward Adama Sanogo who had 28 points and 13 rebounds. Saint Mary’s was able to stave off the VCU upset and move on. At the end of the day, the Huskies will overwhelm the Gaels with their athleticism all over the court along with their intensity on the court. UConn advances with ease.
No. 3 Gonzaga vs. No. 6 TCU
Gonzaga was in an early battle with Grand Canyon, but they pulled away in the second half. Guard Julian Strawther and forward Drew Timme led the Bulldog offense as they looked poised to make another run in the NCAA Tournament. TCU scored a late floater to complete their comeback against Arizona State and move on. The Horned Frogs will need to tighten up their defense and find other sources of scoring outside of Mike Miles Jr. in order to take down a team like Gonzaga. The Bulldogs are the more well-rounded team which will translate to a punched ticket to the Sweet 16.