We are going region by region looking at the Thursday/Friday matchups and talking about some of the main storylines and what you can expect from the region as a whole.
Today we continue with the West Region.
#1 Arizona (KP Ranks - Ovr: 1, Off: 35, Def: 1) vs #16 Weber State (Ovr: 169, Off: 150, Def: 207)
Friday 3/21 1:10pm CDT in San Diego, CA
Not going to happen. That number one defense will completely overwhelm Weber State.
#8 Gonzaga (Ovr: 20, Off: 50, Def: 13) vs #9 Oklahoma State (Ovr: 22, Off: 24, Def: 29)
Friday 3/21 approx 3:40pm CDT in San Diego, CA
Oklahoma State has some impressive wins despite the high number of losses that they have. Gonzaga is a fairly solid team, but Oklahoma State is much more dynamic, especially while Smart is clicking. Expect a close one, but it looks like OSU will pull it out.
#5 Oklahoma (Ovr: 29, Off: 13, Def: 81) vs #12 North Dakota State (Ovr: 55, Off: 20, Def: 140)
Thursday 3/20 6:27pm CDT in Spokane, WA
I'm trying hard not to let the poor effort they put together against Baylor in the Big 12 tournament skew my thoughts on this team very much, but that's a hard thing to do. They are a team that is extremely streaky, and while they can get hot and overwhelm NDSU, they can also go ice-cold in a second and let them back in the game.
All that being said, NDSU plays a very slow pace, so if Oklahoma gets out to an early lead, expect it to be difficult for the Bison to make the comeback.
#4 San Diego State (Ovr: 21, Off: 103, Def: 7) vs #13 New Mexico State (Ovr: 72, Off: 42, Def: 129)
Thursday 3/20 approx 8:57pm CDT in Spokane, WA
SDSU has a defense that hides a lot of flaws, and they've turned in a few offensive duds recently. Normally, I wouldn't say that this would be much of an issue for a #4 seed, but New Mexico State is a top 10 team in FG %. If they can keep that percentage up, they could be ripe to pull the upset.
#6 Baylor (Ovr: 31, Off: 7, Def: 114) vs #11 Nebraska (Ovr: 48, Off: 99, Def: 30)
Friday 3/21 11:40am CDT in San Antonio, TX
Baylor has an elite-level offense, but their defense is a bit lacking. Nebraska has a stout defense, but a much worse offense. It's classic strength-vs-strength, and Baylor just has better athleticism.
#3 Creighton (Ovr: 8, Off: 1, Def: 127) vs #14 Louisiana-Lafayette (Ovr: 115, Off: 74, Def: 193)
Friday 3/21 approx 2:10pm CDT in San Antonio, TX
Louisiana-Lafayette looks like they could have some moderate success on offense, since Creighton really doesn't have much of a defense, but they have the number 1 offense in the nation, supported by a proliferate 3-point attack. While I think that their imbalance makes them a likely upset candidate in later rounds, I just don't see Louisiana-Lafayette being good enough to keep up with Creighton, even if the 3s aren't falling.
#7 Oregon (Ovr: 30, Off: 12, Def: 90) vs #10 BYU (Ovr: 50, Off: 27, Def: 100)
Thursday 3/20 2:10pm CDT in Milwaukee, WI
Overall, this looks like a good even matchup, and BYU's tough schedule would cause me to lean towards them. But losing Collinsworth to a torn ACL is a huge blow to this team, and I'm not sure they have enough left to give Oregon a real game here.
#2 Wisconsin (Ovr: 11, Off: 5, Def: 59) vs #15 American (Ovr: 96, Off: 198, Def: 46)
Thursday 3/20 approx 11:40am CDT in Milwaukee, WI