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NCAA Tournament Preview: West Region

Gonzaga is the #1?  Ohio State is the #2?  New Mexico is the #3?  Kansas State is the #4?  Sounds pretty wide open to me.

The Favorite: #2 Ohio State

The Buckeyes have been playing obscenely good since their loss to Wisconsin in Madison.  Perhaps Thad Matta’s team needed a kick to the crotch to get going…or maybe someone told Aaron Craft he’s 100x better if he doesn’t take his fifth grader mimicked shot and drives the ball…or maybe both.

The Dark Horse: #6 Arizona

I feel like people have began to disrespect the Wildcats because they haven’t been playing very well of late, but remember this is a team which is 12-6 against the RPI top 100.  That mark may not be as good as Gonzaga (11-2) and New Mexico (19-5), but it is better than Ohio State (10-7), Kansas State (8-7), and Wisconsin (11-10).

The Cinderella: #11 Belmont

Speaking of beating decent teams, the Belmont Bruins are 6-2 against the RPI top 100.  They haven’t had nearly as many chances as the upper tier teams in this region, but have had far more resounding success; however, be weary for the Bruins are 1-2 against the Top 50 in the RPI.

The Path:

All the higher seeds get out of the first round except Wisconsin thanks to a weak #13 seed play-in.  Gonzaga manages to get by a pesky Pitt team, but is unable to take down Kansas State which overpowers Ole Miss who beats Wisconsin whose awful offense continues to keep the Badgers from being a good team.  The Wildcats face Ohio State in the Elite Eight after the Buckeyes find a way to get by New Mexico.  The Buckeyes will beat Iowa State after the Cyclones take care of an overvalued Notre Dame team.  New Mexico has to fight past Belmont who beats Arizona in the first round because the Wildcats (of Arizona) overlook the Bruins.

In Other Words: Not many surprises in this region despite it being wide open because it has weaker lower seeds than the other regions.  Ohio State’s defense is the difference and the Buckeyes make it to Atlanta.

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