Gonzaga earned the final #1 seed in the bracket, but there are joined by Arizona. There are storylines galore in this region, so let's dive right in and take a look at the final region of the bracket.
Editor’s Note: Big wins are typically going to be wins against Top-25 KenPom teams, whereas bad losses include losses to teams that either didn’t make the tournament or are outside the Top 50 in Kenpom. There is some subjectivity in the bad losses department.
1 - Gonzaga Bulldogs (32-1, WCC Regular Season and Tournament Champions, Kenpom Ranking: 1)
Big wins: Florida, Arizona, Saint Mary's (x3), Iowa State
Bad losses: BYU
The Breakdown: I'm not sure that BYU actually qualifies as a bad loss, and even if it was, the fact that it was the only one is quite impressive. This is going to be a dangerous team, but any geographical advantage they might have will be negated if they meet Arizona in the Elite Eight.
2 - Arizona Wildcats (30-4, Pac 12 Regular Season Co-Champions, Tournament Champions, KR: 20)
Big wins: UCLA (x2), Oregon
Bad losses: None
The Breakdown: The Wildcats didn't get a ton of opportunities for marquee wins this year, and even though they beat UCLA and Oregon, they also lost to them and Gonzaga. Getting Allonzo Trier back definitely changed the complexion of the team, and it will be interesting to see if that can make up the 7 point difference from their first meeting.
3 - Florida State Seminoles (25-8, T-2nd in ACC, KR: 19)
Big wins: Florida, Virginia, Duke, Notre Dame, Louisville
Bad losses: Georgia Tech, Temple, Pittsburgh, Syracuse
The Breakdown: The Seminoles started out hot in the ACC this year, building up a cushion of good results that carried them through a rough two game stretch of losses against Georgia Tech and Syracuse. They were slotted as a 2 seed back in February when the committee released their preliminary look at the bracket, and despite a loss to Pittsburgh they were able to keep a good seed. Florida Gulf Coast should be an entertaining opponent.
4 - West Virginia Mountaineers (26-8, T-2nd in Big 12, KR: 5)
Big wins: Virginia, Oklahoma State, Baylor, Kansas, Iowa State (x2)
Bad losses: Temple, Oklahoma
The Breakdown: Press Virginia is alive and well, as the Mountaineers have a Top 5 defense, fueled by their best-in-the-nation TO percentage. They will try to avoid being upset in the first round for the second year in a row.
5 - Notre Dame Fighting Irish (25-9, T-2nd in ACC, KR: 25)
Big wins: Louisville, Virginia, Florida State
Bad losses: Georgia Tech
The Breakdown: Notre Dame is another good example of a team that avoided bad losses and strung together just a few marquee wins in a major conference. They missed out on two huge non-conference games when they lost to both Villanova and Purdue, but they scored a win against Louisville early enough in the conference season to hang around in the upper echelon of the ACC. They took full advantage of the unbalanced schedule. Their reward is a matchup with a Princeton team that is probably better than most will give them credit for.
6 - Maryland Terrapins (24-8, T-2nd in Big Ten, KR: 45)
Big wins: Oklahoma State, Michigan
Bad losses: Penn State, Pittsburgh, Nebraska, Iowa
The Breakdown: Maryland was gifted with a higher seed than seems appropriate. I'm not really sure what the committee sees in this team that justifies giving them anything higher than an 8 or 9.
7 - Saint Mary's Gaels (28-4, 2nd in WCC, KR: 14)
Best wins: Dayton, BYU (x3)
Bad losses: UT Arlington
The Breakdown: They lost to Gonzaga 3 times, and it wasn't competitive at all any of those times. Other than that, the only mildly impressive wins were against Dayton early in the season and then a 3-game sweep of the BYU Cougars. This team has talent but I don't expect them to be able to contend with Arizona in a potential second round matchup.
8 - Northwestern Wildcats (23-11, T-5th in Big Ten, KR: 39)
Big wins: Michigan, Wisconsin
Bad losses: Illinois (x2)
The Breakdown: The only big black mark on this resume is the pair of losses to Illinois. But honestly, with the fact that this is the first NCAA Tournament berth for Northwestern, it was going to take a lot more than that to keep them out of the field this year. This is a historic accomplishment for this program, and they have a favorable matchup in the first round to try and get their first NCAA Tournament win this year as well.
9 - Vanderbilt Commodores (19-15, T-5th in SEC, KR: 34)
Big wins: Florida (x3)
Bad losses: Missouri, Mississippi, Tennessee, Bucknell
The Breakdown: The only thing this team has going for it is that it somehow managed to beat Florida 3 times during the season. As we've heard multiple times already, any team that manages to lose to Missouri by 20 has no business being in the field, much less a single-digit seed.
10 - VCU Rams (26-8, 2nd in A10, KR: 52)
Best wins: Dayton, Middle Tennessee
Bad losses: Illinois, Georgia Tech, Davidson, Fordham
The Breakdown: The Rams benefitted from an unbalanced A10 schedule, getting to avoid a second matchup against both Rhode Island and Richmond on their way to a second place finish in the conference. Their biggest win was against Dayton, and the nonconference schedule only had one quality team (an 8 point loss to Baylor).
11 - Xavier Musketeers (21-13, 7th in Big East, KR: 40)
Best wins: Creighton, Butler, Wake Forest
Bad losses: Colorado
The Breakdown: Xavier has not been a very good team against top competition, going 4-10 against Top 40 KenPom competition. They have 4 wins in their last 11, but 3 of those have come against DePaul, so there hasn't really been much to celebrate for the Musketeers.
12 - Princeton Tigers (23-6, Ivy Regular Season and Tournament Champions, KR: 59)
Best win: Bucknell
Worst losses: Lehigh, Saint Joseph's
The Breakdown: Princeton started the season very slow, losing 6 of their first 10, but their best win of the season on December 22nd started a winning streak that continues to today. They went a perfect 14-0 in the Ivy league this year, but had to go to overtime to beat Penn in the first ever Ivy League Tournament game. This team is potentially dangerous.
13 - Bucknell Bison (26-8, Patriot Regular Season and Tournament Champions, KR: 80)
Best win: Vanderbilt
Worst losses: Siena, Loyola MD, Lehigh (x2)
The Breakdown: This team is ranked better than the 2005 team that upset Kansas, but the opponent that they are facing is also probably a bit better. This team does not hit the offensive glass well and gets turned over a very big clip, so I wouldn't count on them getting back to their killer B ways.
14 - Florida Gulf Coast (25-7, Atlantic Sun Regular Season and Tournament Champions, KR: 108)
Best wins: UT Arlington, Louisiana Tech
Worst losses: USC Upstate, Georgia Southern
The Breakdown: Dunk City is back in the tournament after tearing through the Atlantic Sun Tournament. The likelihood of them recreating their run to the Sweet 16 is remote, but they should provide a lot of entertainment in their matchup against Florida State.
15 - North Dakota Fighting Hawks (20-14, OVC Tournament Champions, KR: 173)
Best win: Cal State Bakersfield
Worst losses: Northern Arizona, Sacramento State
The Breakdown: The Fighting Hawks are making their first appearance in the NCAA tournament. I'm sure that Fetch can give you a whole lot more information on them than I could.
16 - South Dakota State (18-16, Summit Tournament Champions, KR: 187)
Best wins: South Dakota (x2), Fort Wayne (x2)
Worst losses: Idaho, Western Illinois, Oral Roberts
The Breakdown: Mike Daum has been covered relentlessly in the last week or so, and he gives the Jackrabbits the star needed to pull off a huge upset. Unfortunately, it's hard to imagine that the first ever 16 seed to upset a 1 seed will be this team, especially given who their opponent is.
Stayed tuned for our further breakdowns of the tournament, including our predictions for each region coming out in the next few days.