CDA News’ look at the NCAA Tournament continues with a full breakdown of the West Region. Gonzaga is the top seed in the region, which includes Arizona, Florida State, Notre Dame, West Virginia and others. The 16 teams here will be playing for the right to get to San Jose, Calif, for the regional semifinals and finals.
Most Intriguing Game: If it happens, it’ll be Notre Dame and West Virginia. The Fighting Irish can score and after playing Princeton in the first round, they’ll be anxious to get up and down the floor as much as they can if they’re still around for round two. That’s exactly what Press Virginia wants to hear, as the Mountaineers love to play at a fast pace and try to keep you from breathing. This game might be the first team to 90 points wins it.
Most Likely Upset: Florida Gulf Coast over Florida State. This really doesn’t feel like a region of upsets, but this is one to watch. Dunk City is back and could cause a lot of problems in the West Region for their much larger in-state foe. The Eagles are still quick and still talented, and Florida State has struggled badly away from Tallahassee. Orlando is about as neutral ground as you can get for these two schools, so this won’t necessarily be a true home game for the Seminoles. That gives Gulf Coast a chance to recreate the Dunk City magic.
Lowest Seed In the Sweet 16: No. 5 Notre Dame. The Irish should be able to hold off Press Virginia, which would interestingly eliminate the only coach in the top half of the region’s seeds who’s ever been to the NCAA Tournament Final Four with his school. Notre Dame, Arizona and Gonzaga have all reached the Elite Eight, Florida State and St. Mary’s the Sweet 16, while Northwestern hasn’t made the field before in the history of the tournament.
Highest Seed to Fall Early: No. 6 Maryland. The Terrapins are a Jekyll and Hyde team, and there’s no way to know which one shows up for tipoff. Xavier is also struggling, but the Musketeers have an opportunity in front of them, and they tend not to blow these kinds of chances. They’ll likely sneak through, leaving Maryland to ponder how they managed to get here when they had the potential for much more
The Region Champion Will Be: Gonzaga. This finally feels like the year for the Bulldogs, and they’re in a fairly weak path to the Final Four. Gonzaga has been close multiple times but never actually made it past the Elite Eight. This time, they hold the upper hand in most matchups and already beat No. 2 seed Arizona. They have to like their chances to get out of the West Region and reach their first Final Four.
Readers, is it Gonzaga’s time? Can anyone in the NCAA Tournament knock them out? What surprises do you see happening? Sound off in the comments!
Commentary by Dan Angell
Photo Courtesy Twitter/Gonzaga