As a bracket player, there’s nothing like looking genius for correctly predicting your teams to advance to the next round of this tournament. Out of 72 schools with an equal opportunity, only one can be crowned the national champions of college basketball. So get your brackets ready, it’s time to get mad! This is how I think the West region will play out:
[RELATED: Midwest Region Preview]
[RELATED: East Region Preview]
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Players to Watch
Beyond Doug McDermott and his Creighton Blue Jays in the bottom half of the West region, there’s no doubt that the upper bracket of this region will have more players to watch for.
Beginning with the No. 1-seeded Arizona Wildcats, the entire country will have their eyes on Naismith College Player of the Year candidate Nick Johnson, and PAC-12 Freshman of the Year Aaron Gordon. Both Johnson and Gordon have carried the Wildcats to the No. 1 seed in the West region, along with finishing the college basketball season ranked by the Associated Press at No. 4 in the nation. Head coach Sean Miller will have to deal with the pressure of his Wildcats being the top seed in this region, as it will be up to both Johnson and Gordon to lead the way for the favorites of this region to reach the Final Four.
However, the Wildcats do have a potential tough draw in the round of 32 assuming they win their first-round matchup, and if the Oklahoma State Cowboys were to advance past Gonzaga. Marcus Smart will be playing with a huge chip on his shoulder after struggling late down the stretch, along with serving a three-game suspension this season. Smart will be looking to lead the Cowboys to a deep tournament run, as this is his last chance to showcase his talent, assuming he declares for the NBA Draft.
Best Possible Key Matchup
A potential dream matchup out West would be to see a rematch of the No. 4-seeded San Diego State Aztecs against the No. 1 Arizona Wildcats in the Sweet 16. In case you didn’t know, Arizona defeated SDSU on the road this season by nine points, handing the Aztecs their first loss of the season. After that loss, SDSU went on an outrageous 20-game winning streak that no one saw coming, which included wins against Marquette and Creighton on neutral ground, and Kansas on the road. Matter of fact, the Aztecs were the only team to defeat Kansas on the road this season at the Allen Fieldhouse, which snapped the Jayhawks 68-game winning streak at home against non-conference opponents; something that hasn’t been done since 2006.
Playing in a mid-major conference, the No. 4-seeded Aztecs will look to make a run this tournament, and look forward to a potential rematch with the Wildcats, who lost key starter Brandon Ashley to injury after 22 games this season.
If these two teams were to meet again, the potential Sweet 16 rematch would be played on neutral ground in Anaheim, California, which is a short drive from both San Diego and Tucson. The winner of this showdown would prove who’s really the king college basketball out West.