NCAA Bracket Predictions: West Region
The NCAA men’s basketball tournament is perhaps the most thrilling, excruciating time on the sports calendar. It’s certainly the time college basketball is its most relevant nationally, and it brings out the expert in everyone as brackets everywhere are filled in and submitted with varying levels of confidence.
I watch maybe 12 minutes of college basketball per year, and convince myself come bracket time that I’ve got this thing nailed. I never do.
So what we’re going to do is pick games and then give some (likely wrong) rationale for each one. Sometimes there’s a real reason for the pick. Other times there’s not. We don’t recommend filling out a bracket based on these selections, but feel free to do so if you need someone to blame.
Check out the East predictions here. Up next is the West.
No. 1 Gonzaga vs. No. 16 Fairleigh Dickinson
It turns out Fairleigh Dickinson is NOT a character from Downton Abbey.
No. 8 Syracuse vs. No. 9 Baylor
Baylor isn’t very good at shooting threes, and that’s a problem against Syracuse’s zone. They’ll be without Frank Howard for one game because of his suspension for tripping Duke’s Zion Williamson in the ACC tournament, but they should sneak past Baylor with a sound defensive game.
No. 5 Marquette vs. No. 12 Murray State
Ja Morant Hive is firmly in the building.
Pick: Murray State
No. 4 Florida State vs. No. 13 Vermont
Carmichael Dave would probably kill me if I don’t pick the right team here.
Pick: Florida State
No. 6 Buffalo vs. No. 11 Arizona State
Buffalo upset No. 4 Arizona as a 13 seed last year, and now they’re back with a ton of experience and a chance to knock off the other Arizona school. There are a lot of signs that Buffalo could make a run.
No. 3 Texas Tech vs. No. 14 Northern Kentucky
The good news for Texas Tech is that unlike their football team, their basketball team is really good at defense. They give up fewer than 60 points per game.
Pick: Texas Tech
No. 7 Nevada vs. No. 10 Florida
Nevada spent most of the season as a top-25 team. A first-round exit against a mediocre Florida team would be pretty devastating.
No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 15 Montana
Michigan is a really good squad. Montana plays in the Big Sky. Sometimes it isn’t complicated.
No. 1 Gonzaga vs. No. 8 Syracuse
The Zags feel flame-out proof, but if any team is going to knock them off early, it’s the Orange.
No. 4 Florida State vs. No. 12 Murray State
Ja Morant Hive – still out here.
Pick: Murray State
No. 3 Texas Tech vs. No. 6 Buffalo
Let’s get weird!
No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 7 Nevada
Wolverines vs. a Wolfpack would be a good nature documentary.
No. 1 Gonzaga vs. No. 12 Murray State
Ja Morant Hive – still here, but this is the end of the run.
No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 6 Buffalo
Buffalo scores a ton of points, but Michigan’s stifling defense should be enough to stop their tournament run.
No. 1 Gonzaga vs. No. 2 Michigan
More chalk to get here, but John Beilein’s club is ready to knock off the No. 1 seed.