2019 Men's Basketball NCAA Tournament West Regional Overview

West Regional Overview
Gonzaga was rewarded with the number one seed out West as their body of work was absolutely dominant all year long. The Bulldogs went to the Final Four back in 2017 when they were also a number one seed and should be very comfortable in the driver’s seat as the favorite to get to Minneapolis despite losing to Saint Mary’s in the WCC Tournament title game. The rest of the region has a good mix of teams that should provide plenty of entertainment, especially during the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament.
Who Can Win?
Gonzaga is the favorite as they are a very explosive offensive team, averaging 88.8 points per game. Rui Hachimura, Brandon Clarke and Zach Norvell lead the Bulldogs attack as they are averaging a combined 50 plus point per game as a trio. Michigan is battle tested under the direction of head coach John Beilein and will be a tough out in a potential Elite Eight battle with Gonzaga. Texas Tech is another candidate to win this region as they won the Big 12 regular season title. Florida State’s depth in a one game situation will always make them dangerous as head coach Leonard Hamilton will have his guys ready for another deep run in March.
Who Can Surprise?
Buffalo and Nevada are two teams from mid-major conferences who have done plenty of damage against Power Five opponents this season. Buffalo had an impressive 71-59 win over Syracuse at the Carrier Dome back on December 18th. C.J. Massinburg is averaging 18.3 points per game and is shooting 39.6 percent from behind the three-point line. The Wolfpack have plenty of tournament experience in recent years as this is their third straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament after they went to the Sweet 16 last year before losing to Loyola-Chicago.
Who’s Hot?
Texas Tech has won 11 of their last 13 games and has the ability to defend well enough to keep themselves in any game in this tournament. Jarrett Culver is the leading scorer for the Red Raiders, averaging 18.5 points per game. Davide Moretti and Matt Mooney are also averaging over ten points per game with Moretti setting himself apart as a quality three-point shooting threat.
Who’s Cold?
Marquette will be looking to get back on track in the NCAA Tournament as they have lost five of their last six games and they will need to find a way to finish games down the stretch like they did earlier in the season. Markus Howard is the Big East Player of the Year and is scoring 25 points per game and he will need to score even more in order for the Golden Eagles to get to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament.
Upset Alert!
Murray State over Marquette…Ja Morant has the ability to put the Racers on his back and push them through a game for 40 minutes. It will be critical for Murray State to get off to a fast start and get the game to the second half as to ramp up the pressure on Marquette as the number five seed.
What Possible Matchup is Interesting?
A rematch between Gonzaga and Florida State in the Sweet 16 would be very interesting. The Seminoles wore down the Bulldogs last year in the Sweet 16 by a score of 75-60. Mfiondu Kabengele and the rest of the Florida State front line will provide some fun matchup challenges for the Gonzaga front line and it will be critical for the Bulldogs to knock down outside shots to keep the Seminoles honest defensively.
Which Player Will Dominate?
Rui Hachimura has had huge games against elite teams this season as he scored 20 points in the 89-87 win over Duke out in Maui back in November. If Hachimura can get rolling early with several touches of the ball in the NCAA Tournament, he should consistently score 20-25 points per game without too much trouble.
Which System is Tough to Prepare For?
Florida State is going to be tough for anyone to prepare for especially on the second game of a weekend as their length and depth has the ability to take its toll on an unfamiliar opponent who has a shorter rotation.