March Madness is officially underway with the play in games in progress. Tomorrow, a full slate of 16 games and 12 straight hours of college hoops. Seriously, how can any office with even the most casual of sport fans expect any work to be done? Everyone is going to be glued to their desktops and laptops watching and talking about the games non stop throughout the day. The first West Region game everyone will be able to catch tomorrow is (4) Gonzaga taking on (13) North Carolina – Greensboro at 1:30 p.m. ET.
The Top Seed: Xavier
Xavier comes in as the number-one seed for the West Region. Xavier has been a top-5 team all season, it’s a team of veterans led by J.P Macura and Trevon Bluiett, and play nine guys big minutes in the rotation. The team is well coached and can win in a number of different ways. They have a huge super fan led by Bill Murray thanks to his son, Luke, being an assistant on Chris Mack’s staff the past 3 years. Everything seems to be in place for Xavier to make a Final Four run this season.
Who can knock off Xavier first:
(8) Missouri will be the first big threat to Xavier due to Michael Porter Jr. Yeah, the kid had a bad first game in his first outing since having a back injury. There was going to be rust to his game and needed time to adjust. He played TWO minutes all season. He’s going to be top-6 selection in the draft and can score from anywhere on the court. Oh and his brother, Jontay, yeah he’s pretty good too and he made himself a first-round pick come the NBA draft.
No disrespect to (9) Florida State and Leonard Hamilton but it would be tough to see the Seminoles knock off both Missouri and Xavier. Florida State is really not playing their best basketball of late.
The Potential Title Game Rematch
The Elite Eight game could bring us (4) Gonzaga and (2) North Carolina and a rematch of last year’s Championship game. Both teams of lost a ton of talent from last season’s rosters and both faced questions coming into the year about how good they were really going to be. Well, Roy Williams and Mark Few continue to get the most of their roster more than any other coach in the country.
Path to the Rematch:
(2) North Carolina kicks off tournament play against the Atlantic Sun Champ (15) Lipscomb. Garrison Matthews is a stud North Carolina needs to look out for as he’s a player who can light up a team quick. In the A-Sun title game, Matthews scored 33 and scored 33 and hit 7 threes. Basically doing what he did all season averaging 22.1 points on 38.9% shooting from 3. However, North Carolina should win comfortably (Never know though since they did lose to Wofford at home).
Up next, the Tar Heels would get the winner of the (7) Texas A&M and (10) Providence game. Ed Cooley has done a terrific job at Providence this season with big wins over Xavier and Villanova. Rodney Bullock, Alpha Diallo and Keyron Cartwright are all good players and will be a tough out.
Texas A&M features one of the more talented but more disruptive rosters in the country. Injuries, suspensions, and inconsistent play has plagued the Aggies. Texas A&M is long and athletic. A pretty nice combination to have and feature players who will play in the NBA (Robert Williams and Tyler Davis).
If North Carolina survives to the second weekend a likely rematch from the November 29th game against (3) Michigan. Both teams are different since UNC beat Michigan by 15 in Chapel Hill. John Beilein is one of the better postseason coaches and this may be the best defensive Michigan team Beilein has ever had.
Gonzaga kicks off their path back to the Title game against UNC – Greensboro. Head Coach Wes Miller will be one of the more sought out coaches come off season time as he just led the Spartans to a 27 win season. UNC Greensboro can certainly pull off the upset having already knocking off North Carolina State this season.
The 5-12 match-up features two of the best players in the country. Ohio State’s Keita Bates – Diop and South Dakota State’s Mike Daum are awesome college players decorated with many accolades and awards. Both can take over games and will their team to victory.
Other Teams to look out for:
(6) Houston is led by Rob Gray who may be one of the more underrated guards in the country averaging 18.5 points and 4.5 assists a night. Houston has won 10 of their last 12 games and could be a sleeper pick to get to the Sweet 16.
(11) San Diego State will face Houston in the first round and are led by first year head coach Brian Dutcher. Dutcher has been the coach in waiting for a long time and led the Aztecs to 22 wins and a Mountain West tournament title replacing legendary Steve Fischer. Malik Pope is still around and looking for one last chance to live up to his high potential that was set for him early when he first enrolled at San Diego State.
(1) Xavier over (16) Texas Southern
(8) Missouri over (9) Florida State
(5) Ohio State over (12) South Dakota State
(4) Gonzaga over (13) UNC Greensboro
(6) Houston over (11) San Diego State
(3) Michigan over (14) Montana
(7) Texas A&M over (10) Providence
(2) North Carolina over (15) Lipscomb
(1) Xavier over (8) Missouri
(4) Gonzaga over (5) Ohio State
(3) Michigan over (6) Houston
(2) North Carolina over (7) Texas A&M
(4) Gonzaga over (1) Xavier
(2) North Carolina over (3) Michigan
(2) North Carolina over (4) Gonzaga