NCAA Tournament West Region Preview
March Madness is finally here, the greatest sporting event of the year. All 68 college basketball squads competing are gearing up for what should be another memorable NCAA Tournament. While powerhouse names like Duke, North Carolina, and Kentucky headline the other regions, the West Region is one that seems to be the most under the radar.
It’s nearly impossible to begin breaking down this region and not immediately bring up Gonzaga. The Zags’ elite offense and perfect 16-0 record in league play during the regular season earned them a No. 1 seed in this year’s tournament. Not to mention, Mark Few’s bunch is the only team in the country that has beaten No.1 overall seed Duke at full-strength this year. Led by Rui Hachimura, Brandon Clarke and Zach Norvell Jr., the Zags are the clear cut favorite to emerge out of this region, and rightfully so.
As for the No. 2 ranked team in the West Region, Michigan, the road to the final four does not look particularly smooth. The potential path to an Elite Eight showdown with Gonzaga includes No. 3 Texas Tech, Nevada and Florida. At the beginning of the year, many thought John Beilein’s group could win a national title, but things change. The Wolverines’ offense was far too inconsistent down the stretch of the end of the season for anyone to believe that they will make it to the Final Four for the second straight year.
Despite coming off of an encouraging 2017-2018 season that saw Texas Tech reach the Elite 8 for the first time in school history, this year’s Red Raiders were not satisfied.
Led by potential lottery pick Jarrett Culver (18.5 points per game, 6.3 rebounds per game, 3.7 assists per game), Texas Tech was able to put together another solid season with no “bad” losses until the Big 12 Tournament. The Red Raiders fell to West Virginia, who finished dead last in the Big 12 regular season standings this year.
However, Texas Tech still possesses quality wins against Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State, Oklahoma and Baylor. They will face Northern Kentucky in the first round.
A matchup like Ja Morant versus Markus Howard exemplifies what March Madness is all about. Howard and Morant are two of the most dynamic scoring guards in the entire field, and they are set to go head-to-head in the first round. Howard averages 25 points per game for No. 5 Marquette. As for popular upset pick Murray State, Morant’s average is nearly identical at 24.6 points per game.
Howard and Morant are undoubtedly two of the top scorers in the country, which is why both will hear their names called at June’s NBA Draft. However, these two future pros are not the only reason why this game will prove to be so entertaining. The Golden Eagles and Racers are two of the highest scoring, fast paced teams in the country.
What else is there left to say? Put this game in your calendar. It is a must watch.
Prediction: The West Region is being overlooked, but it will prove to be wildly entertaining, with Michigan getting bounced out early by the winner of Nevada and Florida. Due to this, Texas Tech will have an easier path to the Elite Eight, and will ultimately prevail in an intriguing matchup versus Gonzaga. Jarrett Culver will shine on the brightest stage and lead the Red Raiders to its first ever Final Four.
Pasquale Tartaro is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.