TDT’s 2017 NCAA Tournament Preview: West Region
Is the Gonzaga the best team in the region? There's some doubts.
The selection committee awarded Gonzaga with the No. 1 seed in the West region, but are they truly the best team in this part of the bracket? Only time will tell, as they will surely be tested early on. There are plenty of roadblocks, creating some intrigue. The West will be one of the toughest regions to navigate.
Best Player: G Nigel Williams-Goss, Gonzaga
The Zags have several key players, but none of them are more important to their success than Nigel Williams-Goss. The junior guard does it all for Mark Few’s team. He scores, he rebounds, he facilitates. He has a high basketball IQ and more often than not, makes the best basketball play. Gonzaga will rely on Williams-Goss heavily to lead them deep into the tournament.
Best First-Round Matchup: No. 6 Maryland vs. No. 11 Xavier
The Maryland Terrapins are one of the hardest teams in the country to predict. One game, they’ll look like a contender and then the next, they’ll lay an egg. That inconsistency is the reason they are only a 6-seed. Melo Trimble is their leader and this team will only go as far as he takes them. The Terps will need someone else to step up if they are going to make a run. Xavier has been wildly inconsistent as well. They have been hit by the injury bug, which has really hindered their chances. Guard Trevon Bluiett can take over a game, but it remains to be seen if his teammates can put together a complete game.
Sleeper Team That Can Win it All: No. 4 West Virginia
This is starting to become a trend for Bob Huggins’ squad. The past few years, West Virginia has been a household name in the tournament. The reason? Their defense. The Mountaineers swarm opponents with their full court pressure and that wears teams down. On offense, they are pretty balanced. They play as a team and have proven that they can win as a team.
Potential Cinderella: No. 7 Saint Mary’s
This is the best Saint Mary’s has been in a very long time. They are another team with an aggressive defense in place. The Gaels are extremely stingy on that end, but on the offensive side, they love to give other teams buckets. They boast an efficient offense and are led by their big man, Jock Landale. After missing the tournament last year, the Gaels will enter the tournament with something to prove.
Regional Final: No. 4 West Virginia over No. 2 Arizona
While many don’t think Gonzaga will make it to the Final Four, I’m in the minority that believes they won’t even make it to the Elite Eight. Not because they aren’t good enough, but because a Sweet 16 matchup with an experienced West Virginia team will be their downfall. We’ve seen the impact that Huggins’ defense can have on really good offensive teams. The Mountaineers have some big wins this season, most notably over Kansas. They have what it takes. I expect Arizona to be pushed to the brink, but they are just too talented not to make it through the bottom half. Ultimately, I think WVU will pull off a shocker and advance to the Final Four. There has to be at least one surprise in the Final Four, right?