I’ve already looked at the East Region & South Region, so now let’s head out to the West Region.
West Region Preview
The Lobos of New Mexico might be the best team in college basketball that you don’t know anything about. New Mexico is coached by Steve Alford, who knows what it takes to succeed in the NCAA Tournament and they have a balanced scoring attack that is led by Kendall Williams, the Mountain West Conference Player of the Year.
The Lobos built some great momentum in winning the MWC Tournament last weekend and have one of their best chances ever to reach a Final Four. This team offers a great blend of experience, talent, and balance in addition to being well-coached, which usually translates to success in the NCAA Tournament.
The Mountain West Conference talks about not receiving enough respect from the national media and this is the time for New Mexico to show they’re for real.
Player to Watch: Jared Berggren, Wisconsin
One of the most fascinating early round games is Wisconsin against Ole Miss. The Rebels want to play an uptempo game while Bo Ryan and the Badgers are one of the best teams in the country at making you play at their slow pace.
Everyone is talking about how Marshall Henderson of Ole Miss will perform in this game but I don’t think he’ll be much of a factor. I’m more interested to see how Jared Berggren of Wisconsin performs in the NCAA Tournament. He’s a physical player who presents major matchup problems for the Rebels and epitomizes a Bo Ryan team - a scrappy player who hustles and gets the most of his athletic ability.
The Badgers are a team that many people find boring, but players like Berggren execute fundamentals and play the game the right way, which usually translates to winning games.
Upset Alert: Arizona vs. Belmont
Arizona is a team that struggles to defend. Belmont is a team that can light you up from the perimeter. Not a good combination for the higher seeded Wildcats.
Belmont’s top four scorers are all upperclassmen and leading scorer Ian Clark averages over 18 points per game while shooting over 46% from three-point range. Call it a hunch but he just sounds like the type of guy that could capture the nation’s attention with a huge game where he leads his team to an upset win over a well-known school from a power conference.
The Bruins will also not be intimidated by the big stage of the NCAA Tournament. This is their third straight year playing in the Big Dance, so their players will have more experience with this atmosphere than most of Arizona’s players. Belmont has yet to a win an NCAA Tournament game, but I think that changes this year.
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