2022 Men's Basketball NCAA Tournament West Regional Overview

West Regional Overview
Gonzaga has been to two of the last five national championship games and have made the Sweet 16 in every tournament since 2014. The one thing the Bulldogs have not done is cut down the nets on Monday night. They’re in a region that contains three teams they have already faced, including two of their three losses on the season. The region also contains a super talented Duke team, an elite Texas Tech defense and several other intriguing teams.
Who Can Win?
The short and easy answer to this question is Gonzaga. The Zags have only lost one game since December 4th and have looked like the best team in the nation for the majority of the season. They’ve been number one on KenPom since January 15th and are the only team in the nation that rank in the top ten in both offensive and defensive efficiency. It is true that two teams in this region, Duke and Alabama, have beaten Gonzaga already this season, but both those teams undoubtedly look worse as of today while the Zags look much better. Texas Tech is perhaps the biggest threat to Gonzaga even though the two teams played earlier this year and Gonzaga came out on top. The Red Raiders have the number one defense in the country which will be especially difficult for non-Big 12 teams to figure out.
Who Can Surprise?
Michigan State has not been particularly impressive this season, but we all know what can happen with Tom Izzo coached teams in March. The Spartans won three straight games including an upset over Wisconsin before losing by just five to Purdue. Duke has consistently struggled against lesser ACC teams and could certainly have their hands full against Sparty in a potential second round matchup. Boise State started the year 3-4 but have only lost three games since November. The Broncos have a tough draw with Gonzaga waiting in the second round, but they are probably under-seeded as an 8-seed.
Who’s Hot?
Vermont has only lost one game since December 7th, which certainly qualifies as being hot. The Catamounts won their three America East Tournament games by a combined margin of 36.7 points per game. They haven’t faced the stiffest of competition, but Vermont is clicking on all cylinders. Even though Memphis lost to Houston in the AAC Championship game, the Tigers have won 12 of their last 14 games. Ever since Emoni Bates exited the lineup, Memphis has quietly been one of the better teams in the country.
Who’s Cold?
Alabama may be the definition of cold. The Crimson Tide have lost three straight games and four of their last six. Meanwhile, Arkansas started the year 10-5 before winning 14 of their next 15 games. However, the Razorbacks didn’t finish the year quite as hot as they have lost two of their last three. Arkansas looked lifeless for much of their semifinals upset loss to Texas A&M and better hope they wake up before facing red hot Vermont.
Upset Alert!
The winner of the Rutgers/Notre Dame play-in game will face off with an Alabama team that has suffered head-scratching losses all season. There’s really no reason to expect the Crimson Tide to magically wake up in the NCAA Tournament. Vermont is also a very dangerous team for Arkansas who has struggled of late.
What Possible Matchup is Interesting?
There likely aren’t many fans of the game that would complain about a Gonzaga vs Duke rematch. Two of the most talented teams in the country could potentially face-off in a rematch of Duke’s 84-81 victory on November 26th. UConn and Arkansas would also be an exciting second round matchup between two top-20 KenPom teams. 
Which Player Will Dominate?
This region is loaded with potential lottery picks. Chet Holmgren of Gonzaga, Paolo Banchero of Duke and Jalen Duren of Memphis headline that group. Duke has four other potential first round picks as well, so take your pick from their starting five. Blake Wesley of Notre Dame is another potential first round pick who could make an impact in the tournament. RJ Cole of UConn and Jaylin Williams of Arkansas are two non-NBA guys who have been great all season and should continue to do so in the tournament.
Which System is Tough to Prepare For?
Texas Tech’s defense may be the single toughest to prepare for in the nation. They rank first in defensive efficiency thanks to their “no-middle” defense. Big 12 teams are used to it, but playing it for the first time with just a few days to prepare sounds borderline impossible.