Selection Sunday is in the books. The field of 68 is set. Now, the fun of the NCAA Tournament 2017 can begin! So get your brackets out, because it is time to fill them out!
The number four overall seed has been awarded to the Gonzaga Bulldogs of the West Coast Conference. As a result, the Zags will be the number one seed in the West Region. But there is much more to a region than just its one seed. So let’s take a look at who else will be fighting to make it to the Final Four out of this West Region.
The regions matchups can be seen below.
16) South Dakota State
5) Notre Dame
4) West Virginia
3) Florida State
14) Florida Gulf Coast
7) Saint Mary’s
15) North Dakota
So with those eight matchups set, it is time to get into the good stuff. Without getting too deep into any numbers, here are some of my initial impressions when I saw this section of the bracket released.
Gonzaga should make the Sweet Sixteen, but after that, things get dicey
Every year, people love to doubt Gonzaga. There were some people who were saying they did not deserve a one seed, despite only losing one game on the season. There is no denying their talent, but people always point to their weak conference schedule.But they did play, and beat, both Florida and Arizona in the regular season. I have enough faith in the Zags to think they should have no issues in their first two games.
But they did play, and beat, both Florida and Arizona in the regular season. I have enough faith in the Zags to think they should have no issues in their first two games.
Neither Northwestern or Vandy scares me. But the winner of the Notre Dame and West Virginia matchup (if those teams win their openers) will certainly provide a challenge. If the Zags could survive that, they would likely be ticketed for a rematch with Arizona. And Arizona is playing some strong basketball right now, and this is not the same team they faced early in the season.
West Virginia is the sneaky pick
Everyone will be talking about the Zags and Arizona in this region. But watch out for West Virginia. Bob Huggins has had his fair share of losing in the opening round and letting people down in the Tournament. But this season, all eyes are on the two big West Coasters.
Then in their potential game with the Fighting Irish, plenty of people will be taking Notre Dame. But of those two, I think the Mountaineers are the scarier team. They know how to pressure their opponents, and they certainly have real talent. So if you are looking to go against the norm with a Final Four pick, this is where I would be looking.
Florida Gulf Coast can make the Sweet Sixteen
Before the bracket reveal, I was high on Florida Gulf Coast. The team that was dubbed “Dunk City” a few years back is one of those smaller conference teams that could cause some real havoc. Then the bracket was released. And in their pod of four teams, I see three teams that I feel are overrated.
They open with a three seed in Florida State. Of the three seeds, I see them as hands down the worst of the four. Everyone always points to the 5-12 as being the matchup prime for upsets, but this is certainly one you should take a close look at. This is a really solid 14 seed, and they will be playing in their home state (as will Florida State obviously). So if their fans show up in full force, they could get some serious momentum going to move on.
Then they get either Xavier or Maryland. Maryland is simply moving in the wrong direction. And Xavier just made a run in the Big East Tournament before suffering a heartbreaking loss to Creighton in the semis. Could that have been their last hurrah? Very possible, as they are dealing with some injuries. So needless to say, I am not too high on either of these clubs.
Arizona should cruise to the Elite Eight
Arizona is playing really well right now. In the Pac 12 tournament, they took down not only UCLA, but also Oregon. Coming out on top in that trio says something about the Wildcats. They are one of the biggest teams every season, but they never seem to go the distance.
This year may change that. In their opening few games, I see no real roadblocks. They should be able to take down North Dakota with no issues. Then they get either VCU or Saint Mary’s. While both of those teams are decent, they do not strike me as giant killers.
Then they would get the winner of the teams we discussed above. So you know I do not like three of those four clubs. And as much as I like FGCU, their run stops at Arizona. So give me Arizona in the Elite Eight in all of my brackets, with either Gonzaga or West Virginia being the only thing standing between them and the Final Four.
So there you have it folks. Those were my thoughts upon seeing the bracket for the first time. Some of these thoughts may change a little after looking deeper into the numbers. But they always say go with your gut. And this is what my gut says!
What do you think? Tell us in the comments!