2014 NCAA Championship: Breaking Down the West Region


Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The 2014 NCAA Championship tourney kicked-off Tuesday night with NC State and Albany moving through into the field of 64.

Two more games tonight; Cal Poly vs Texas Southern and Iowa vs Tennessee, will bring the field down to where it needs to be before the first round of the big dance kicks-off Thursday morning.

In the West region, San Diego, Spokane, San Antonio and Milwaukee each play host to three games and three days.

Let’s take a look at each of the first round match-ups in the west, by the numbers.

1 Arizona (30-4) vs. 16 Weber State (19-11): The only thing fans need to really know about this one is the seeding. Never has a No. 1 seed been knocked off in te first round by a 16 seed. Arizona’s flirted with the top overall spot in the country all season, and with one of the biggest Freshman Of The Year candidates in Aaron Gordon. Coming off a loss in the Pac-12 Championship game to UCLA, and injury to forward Brandon Ashley continues to hamper the Wildcat’s title run hopes. Weber State snuck into the field of 64 virtue of two wins in the Big Sky tourney, taking the championship game convincingly over North Dakota, 88-67. OUR PICK: Arizona

8 Gonzaga (28-6) vs. 9 Oklahoma State (21-12): Oh, the 8 vs 9 match-ups … These are typically not as close a game as the seeding indicates. However, many sportswriters across the country continue to put a lot of worth into the Cowboys OT loss to Big 12 Champion, Kansas. Their strength of schedule earned them the at-large bid and first round match-up with a perennial tourney favorite, Gonzaga. David Stockton, son of former Bulldog and NBA hall of famer, John Stockton, make the Zags a tough out. The consesnsus pick here is OK State, but we’re taking the play at the point of Stockton to heart, and going with the Bulldogs. OUR PICK: Gonzaga

5 Oklahoma (23-9) vs. 12 North Dakota State (25-6): Every year for as long as the tourney’s been around, a 12 seed makes a run through the NCAA’s. Could that 12 seed be the Bison of NDSU? Not likely. It’s only the second appearance EVER for the Bison in the Big Dance. The team is 0-7 lifetime against members of the Big 12 conference, though these two teams have never met before. Though North Dakota holds the Nation’s best field goal percentage as a team (50.9%), they don’t play consistent enough defense. OK’s ability to run-n-gun trumps all here. OUR PICK: Oklahoma

4 San Diego State (29-4) vs 13 New Mexico State (26-9): Many thought SDSU could have caught a higher ranking than they did, but still, they draw a rather favorable match-up with New Mexico State. The Aztecs head coach Steven Fischer knows a thing or two about winning late in the season and has his team ready to possibly make a deep run. New Mexico State is 1-4 against teams in the NCAA tourney this season. The Aztecs also are trying to avoid their second consecutive upset in two years after being ousted by Florida Gulf Coast in the round of 32 last year. OUR PICK: San Diego State

6 Baylor (24-11) vs. 11 Nebraska (19-12): Playing inside the Big Ten for their second full season, the Cornhuskers benefited from a tough schedule and good tourney performance to get in the door with 12 losses. Baylor is again in the picture as one of those teams in the middle of the pack that has the athleticism and ability to make a deep run. After starting the season 2-8 in the Big 12, the Bears streaked, winning 10 of their last 12 to make an at-large bid. OUR PICK: Baylor

3 Creighton (26-7) vs. 14 Louisiana Lafayette (23-11): No upset pick here for almost anyone in the country who’s had a college basketball pulse this year. The Ragin Cajuns nearly didn’t make the tourney after having to come from 11 points back with just over five minutes to go in their conference tourney championship game against Western Kentucky. Doug McDermott might be the most determined athlete in the tourney this year, and betting against him or Creighton in the first round makes no sense here. OUR PICK: Creighton

7 Oregon (23-9) vs. 10 BYU (23-11): It’s always nice when you have an in-season match-up to look at when predicting first round games. Without the services of starting point guard Kyle Collinsworth, BYU really finds themselves up against the proverbial wall. Tyler Hawk (23.4 PPG) is the Nation’s seventh leading scorer and was likely to draw a lot of Oregon’s attention defensively. Though their in-season tussle came back in December, Oregon outlasted BYU in overtime, en route to one of their best seasons in program history. OUR PICK: Oregon

2 Wisconsin (26-7) vs. 15 American (20-12): Wisconsin is known as a team that doesn’t beat itself, makes more free throws than their opponent attempts and will grind teams out regardless of style. The Badgers have proven this season that they can play with anybody, but they’ve also proven they can let anyone play with them. Point blank, if UW doesn’t shoot the ball well from the perimeter, they’ll struggle with American – a team who’s methodical offensively and does well limiting offensive possessions for their opponent. Still, the Badgers have history on their side – only seven times in history has a 15 beat a two seed. Bo Ryan won’t let his Badgers become the eighth. OUR PICK: Wisconsin