Men's Basketball 2017 NCAA Tournament West Region Round of 64 Game Breakdowns

West Region Round of 64 Game Breakdowns
South Dakota State was not having a great season prior to making their conference tournament title win in the Summit League.  They were a lower tier team entering the tournament, and they were able to take out the No. 1 and 3 seeds on their way to victory.  Mike Daum, their leading scorer, is a heck of a player and a prolific shooter.  Gonzaga is going to be too much for SDSU.  With the balance that Mark Few’s team has and the size of Przemek Karnowski in the middle, it is going to be too much for the Jackrabbits.  No history will be made here.
In Northwestern’s first ever NCAA tournament, they are assigned no easy task of beating Vanderbilt.  The Commodores have been a bit inconsistent this season, but they have won some important games against Florida (all three they have played) and did enough during the conference season to garner a bid.  Bryce Drew, the coach for Vanderbilt, knows a little something about tournament magic – he beat Ole Miss at the buzzer for Valparaiso in the late 90s – and he prepares his team as well as anyone.  He plays a lot of guys and has a good rotation going.  They are a defensive-minded team that has frustrated Florida and South Carolina, another tournament team, this year.  They have dropped some contests that they probably should have won, but they are young and learning as they go.  Northwestern is a good matchup for Vanderbilt and vice versa.  The Wildcats have a nice blend of talent that has stuck with it all season to acquire 10 league wins.  They have some really good contributors like Bryant McIntosh, Vic Law, and Scotty Lindsey.  As a team, they never give up and are always searching for the best shot.  This is likely to be a close game and a total dog fight. 
For as sound of a team as Princeton is, Notre Dame is a complete team that will likely be too much for the Tigers.  Bonzie Colson is a star in the ACC that Princeton will not have an answer for.  Princeton’s best shot is to slow the game down and force Notre Dame to play a half-court game and also force some turnovers.  Princeton is an outstanding defensive team, so they have the capability of creating stops.  Notre Dame’s offensive talent and ability to control possessions will likely be too much.  Matt Ferrell can really dictate play with his passing and V.J. Beachum is an outstanding wing player that can slash and shoot from outside.  The 5-12 matchup is always a popular upset pick, however, this Notre Dame team looks ready to advance.
This is a potential upset special.  Bucknell is riding high coming into the tournament.  They have been known to knock off the big boys in the past.  It has been a long time since their last tournament win though.  The Bison were a really solid team all season.  Four players averaged double-figures and are pretty efficient offensively.  Much like West Virginia, they are a defensive team.  However, over the last six games they have been scoring with ease.  They have the potential to keep up in an up-and-down game.  Bob Huggins’ squad has been great all year as well.  In the extremely competitive Big 12, the Mountaineers were one of the few teams to beat Kansas and Baylor.  Jevon Carter is a great player that the rest of the team can rally around.  He leads the team in points and assists.  Most importantly, West Virginia generates so many turnovers (they lead the nation in steals) that Bucknell could have their hands full simply possessing the ball.  The Bison have the ability to win this game.  They will have to keep their poise in order to do so.
#6 Maryland vs. #11 Xavier
In this Big Ten v. Big East matchup, it is going to come down to guard play.  Xavier was dealt a bad hand when Edmond Sumner was lost for the year due to injury after just 21 games.  Myles Davis, another strong player for Xavier, left the program after playing just three games this year.  Their depth has been so effected that they remained on the bubble until Selection Sunday.  They still have Trevon Bluiett, who is the team’s leading scorer, and an all-around great player.  It is just difficult to maintain continuity when a team has lost contributors the caliber of the players that Xavier has lost.  For Maryland, it is going to come down to the freshmen stepping up and balancing out an offense that relies on star guard Melo Trimble.  Trimble can carry his team to victory, but at some point he will need some help.  The Terps defense will be key as they attempt to advance through the first weekend.  They are missing their own contributor in Mikal Cekovsky, a big man who contributed some great minutes for Coach Mark Turgeon.  Either of these teams could win this game.  Again, it will come down to whose guards take over.
It may be a blowout or it may be a close game, but this one should be fun to watch.  These are two extremely athletic teams playing against each other in their home state.  This might be Leonard Hamilton’s best team since he has been at Florida State.  There is so much talent up and down the roster, but it is young talent.   That being said, Jonathan Isaac is an NBA lottery pick that can score big buckets when the team needs him to.  Xavier Rathan-Mayes has outstanding range.  There are a lot of minutes to go around as Hamilton gets his guys as much floor time as possible.  He has a lot of combinations he can go to.  Florida Gulf Coast is also a young team, and they have just as many high flyers.  The Eagles are a proficient scoring team that shoots over 50% from the field.  They have extremely good guards that always seem to find the appropriate shooter.  They are also active with their hands – they steal the ball six times per game.  Florida State should win this game, but they have faltered during some big games this year.  FGCU has been in this position before.  They will not be afraid.  It will be a great matchup.
#7 Saint Mary's vs. #10 VCU
This could be an intriguing game between St. Mary’s and VCU.  Both are mid-major teams that have sustained success over the last decade.  VCU was unable to close the deal against Rhode Island in the conference title game, but they still earned an at-large bid based on their resume.  They impressed against Middle Tennessee and LSU and even in losses against Baylor.  Will Wade has really kept the success of the program going since Shaka Smart left.  They are very deep, but will likely need scoring from unlikely sources to advance past St. Mary’s.  The Gaels have had the luxury of playing against Gonzaga three times and understanding what it is like to compete against an elite team.  The Gaels are one of the best defensive teams in the country.  They have been holding teams to under 60 points.  It will be difficult for VCU to break through offensively. St. Mary’s is also a great free-throw shooting team.  If it comes down to fouling late in games, St. Mary’s seems to have a slight edge there.  Still, VCU has proven they can play with anybody.  This should be a good contest. 
It is North Dakota’s first trip to the Big Dance.  They needed overtime to win their automatic bid, but they did so with grit beating Weber State for the third time this season.  They are well-coached and well-balanced, and they were the best team in the Big Sky all year.  They can really fill it up (80 points per game). But Arizona is going to be too fast and too athletic for the Fighting Hawks.  Arizona, the Pac-12 winner, can score inside and outside so quickly that this could get ugly early.  Of course, North Dakota has a shot to win, but it is one of the least likely upsets to expect in this bracket.