Top Four Seeds
- Gonzaga Bulldogs
- Iowa Hawkeyes
- Kansas Jayhawks
- Virginia Cavaliers
“Gonzaga hasn’t been tested in weeks.” That’s the take everyone loves to bring up when they talk about the Gonzaga Bulldogs. The difference between this team and the ones of the past is Jalen Suggs. The Zags have not had an NBA level talent like him on the roster in the last ten years. Suggs, along with Kispert, Timme and the rest of the roster are primed for domination and I think they have the matchups to make a long run very possible. This team was able to beat Kansas, Iowa, Virginia and West Virginia before beginning their dominant run in the West Coast Conference. This team has only gotten better and will show it on a run to the final four.
The 2nd seeded Iowa Hawkeyes have their sights set on a run led by Luka Garza, the biggest issue for Iowa will be on the defensive front and that will be exposed in the second round when they have the potential of meeting up with Chris Duarte and the Oregon Ducks. Oregon will not have an answer for Garza but Oregon brings a real challenge at every other position. Can Fran McCafferey get his guys ready for upper level offensive units? He hasn’t proven to do it yet.
The Kansas Jayhawks may have the biggest question mark of the entire bracket. They are dealing with a recent Covid stoppage that affected their chances to win the Big12 tournament. The Jayhawks appeared to have found their groove towards the end of the conference campaign, winning against powerhouse Baylor. They followed it up with a lackluster performance against UTEP in a randomly scheduled game. Kansas has the talent to make easy work of Eastern Washington but then they run into the USC Trojans barring an upset and that will be a problem for the Jayhawks. The length of the Trojans will be trouble for Kansas, they will have to find a way to stop dominant big man Evan Mobley and that is a question that they will not have an answer for.
Virginia is dealing with a similar issue that Kansas is dealing with. Coming off of a COVID pause and a season that did not turn out the way they had hoped, the Cavaliers enter a matchup with one of the hottest teams in the country the Ohio Bobcats. The Bobcats ran through the MAC tournament stomping Buffalo in the final. The Bobcats have one of the best players in the country in Jason Preston. Preston has the ability to break down any defense including the vaunted Virginia packline defense.
First Round Upsets
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos over Creighton Bluejays
The Gauchos come from a conference that doesn’t get much hype unless you are a late night degenerate gambler much like myself. They however are playing some of the best basketball in the country and could bring some problems to the Creighton Bluejays. The Gauchos are 56th in the nation in effective shooting percentage as well as one of the most consistent offensive units in basketball. They are meeting a similar offensive unit led by Marcus Zagarowski. The Bluejays are similar to the Gauchos with one of the most effective shooting percentages in college hoops.
The Bluejays were exposed by Georgetown in the Big East final, they have a problem on the boards and a problem at the free throw line. Creighton gives up nine offensive boards per game ranking 242nd in the nation and they are 329th in free throw percentage. Both of these factors will give you problems in the tournament.
Ohio Bobcats over Virginia Cavaliers
I already explained this. Jason Preston will be a problem for every team in the tournament if he is healthy. This is not the same Cavalier team that won the tournament in 2019.
Teams that can make a run- USC Trojans
The Trojans come out of the not so vaunted Pac 12 so some of their ability is getting overlooked. Everyone has heard of Evan Mobley, likely a top five pick in the NBA draft. He alone is good enough to get them at least one victory in the NCAA tournament. If you look at the draw that USC got they should have a few favorable matchups. They likely will match up with the Kansas Jayhawks that will have problems dealing with the length that USC brings to the table. The Trojans have the ability to shut down any offense and Kansas will have trouble doing anything.
If they get by Kansas a potential matchup with Iowa is a juicy spot for all college basketball lovers. Luka Garza vs Evan Mobley is a matchup that can headline any basketball slate. Mobley and company are an achilles heel for the Hawkeyes. USC has problems at the free throw line which could end up costing them but Tahj Eddy and Ethan Anderson both shoot over 39% from deep which will open up the middle for the unstoppable force Evan Mobley.
West Regional Bracket Winner- Gonzaga Bulldogs