Men's Basketball 2015 NCAA Tournament West Regional Overview

Wisconsin Men's College Basketball

West Regional Overview

The West regional of the NCAA Tournament is filled with heavy hitters. Wisconsin and Arizona both had legitimate claims to a number-one seed. North Carolina is a historic juggernaut with a ceiling higher than few teams in the bracket. And then there are the upset minded mid-majors of Wofford, Harvard and Georgia State, not to mention the star power emanating from teams like Arkansas and Ohio State. The West has you covered.


#1 Wisconsin, #2 Arizona, #3 Baylor, #4 North Carolina, #5 Arkansas, #6 Xavier, #7 VCU, #8 Oregon, #9 Oklahoma State, #10 Ohio State, #11 BYU, #11 Mississippi, #12 Wofford, #13 Harvard, #14 Georgia State, #15 Texas Southern, #16 Coastal Carolina


Who Can Win?

Despite the talented depth residing in the West, a berth in the Final Four is likely going to come down to the top two seeds, Wisconsin and Arizona. They are a step ahead of the rest of this group. The Badgers’ Frank Kaminsky is a nightmare to defend and capable of torching anybody, with the possible exception of the Wildcats, whose defense is among the upper-echelon of college basketball. Outside of maybe North Carolina making a run on the back of a hot-shooting Marcus Paige, no other West teams can hang with the one and two seeds.


Who Can Surprise?

There isn’t an easy road for any potential Elite Eight-buster in this region. The biggest surprise may come from a few double-digit seeds winning their first game but failing to advance very far after that. All of the 10 through 14 seeds in this region have a solid chance at winning their respective game (or games, in the case of the 11 seeds). A feasible surprise storyline could be the West region destroying brackets early only to have the top teams advance through the later rounds after the dust has settled.


Who’s Hot?

It’s hard not to be hot when you’ve won 31 of 34 games on the year like Arizona. But out of the lower-tier teams, fellow Pac-12 team Oregon may be the hottest. Other than a pair of losses to Zona, Oregon has just one loss since mid-January. Wofford has also kicked it into high gear since January. A bad, road loss to the Citadel was followed by the Terriers winning 15 of their final 16 games, grabbing both the Southern conference regular-season and tournament titles.


Who’s Cold?

North Carolina was fortunate to play its way through a mini-run in the ACC tournament. Prior to that, the Tar Heels had lost six of their final 10 games to round out the regular season. Of course, Mississippi may be even worse off than UNC as far as momentum is concerned. The Rebels lost three of four to finish the year and then promptly lost their first game in the SEC tournament to a bad South Carolina team as well.


Upset Alert!

Despite the Rebels’ recent failings, the winner of the first-round play-in game could be ready to surprise the #6 Xavier Musketeers in round two. All three of these teams have honestly been incredibly shaky at points throughout the season. BYU and Mississippi are definitely capable of besting Xavier. Whereas the other double-digit seeds in this region are underdogs who would need the favorites to play down to them, both BYU and Ole Miss are perfectly capable of playing up to Xavier’s level and defeating it in the process.


What Possible Matchup is Interesting?

Waiting for Wisconsin to battle Arizona in the regional final is tops on this list, but before that matchup happens, Wisconsin could have to grapple with North Carolina. Few teams in the nation have as many quality big men as do the Tar Heels. It’s what made the UNC – Kentucky game so enticing early in December and what added to the Heels’ rivalry with Duke this year. Their ability to dominate the paint has gotten them to where they are. Pitting that frontcourt rotation of Kennedy Meeks, Brice Johnson, Joel James, Isaiah Hicks, among others, against possible Player of the Year Frank Kaminsky is what March Madness is all about.


Which Player Will Dominate?

No one is a harder guard than Kaminsky; Arizona’s Stanley Johnson is also terrifying. However, look for Baylor’s Rico Gathers to tear people apart as far as the Bears advance. Gathers is a bit of an underrated star, but he has put together an impressive resume this season. Averaging a double-double, Gathers is the number two offensive rebounder in the nation and is number one nationally in total rebound percentage according to Sports-Reference. His relentlessness on the boards is a terrible matchup for Georgia State in the round of 64. Although GSU has a chance at the upset over Baylor, if the Bears do win, Gathers should also dominate his round-three opponent. Out of the 6 v. 11 game, all three teams are prone to defensive struggles, something Baylor loves to take advantage of. Although there are more talented players than Gathers in this region, the bracket could shake out in his favor, at least through to the Sweet Sixteen.


Which System is Tough to Prepare For?

The default answer here is the VCU “havoc” press, but the execution of that defense will be even more fascinating this year because of who the Rams are facing. With freshman point guard D’Angelo Russell on the other side, the VCU – Ohio State game will perfectly pit strength against strength when Russell has the ball. His talents will tell a lot, but it will also be fun to see how Thad Matta can coach up his Buckeyes to beat this defensive scheme. If OSU struggles to break through and adds to its 11.2 turnovers per game, VCU will get easy baskets and alleviate its biggest weakness in the process.


West Region Round of 64 Game Breakdowns


Midwest Regional Overview

Midwest Region Round of 64 Game Breakdowns


East Regional Overview

East Region Round of 64 Game Breakdowns


South Regional Overview

South Region Round of 64 Game Breakdowns


Tournament Central