March Madness: West Preview

Story posted March 16, 2023 in CommRadio, Sports by Gia Sabatino

It's official: the west has gone wild.

16 teams…. but only one can be on top of the West.

No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 16 Howard

This matchup may seem like it's a no brainer… the reigning national championships versus a small school in Washington D.C.

Truth is, these teams look pretty much the same on paper.

The only difference is Kansas has a handful of returning players from last season and forward Jalen Wilson on their side.

No doubt Kansas is extremely more experienced and dominant in this league, but in March we know better than to underestimate a No.16 seed.

For Howard, it may be hard to compete with Kansas, but the last time the Bison were in the tournament was 1992 and they suffered a huge loss… from Kansas. So they just may finally get their revenge.

No. 8 Arkansas vs. No. 9 Illinois

If there’s anything to know about March Madness, it's that the No. 8 & No. 9 seed games are the true tossups.

Arkansas is in the tournament yet again, this time an No. 8-seed rather than a No. 4-seed. They finished tenth in the Southeast while Illinois finished sixth in the Big Ten.

It's been about ten years since the Illini have been to the big stage and the Fighting Illini are more stacked than ever before.

Both of these teams are more than prepared for the tournament as they have been playing against some of the best teams in the country due to being in the Big Ten and SEC.

Just to warn you now, each of these teams is more than capable of being the Cinderella of this tournament.

No. 5 Saint Mary’s vs. No. 12 VCU

Saint Mary’s has been on the rise recently as it has made a trip to the tournament multiple times in the past few years.

The Gaels finished second in the West Coast this year right behind Gonzaga and they are not to be underestimated.

TCU is also familiar with the big stage and has also had itself a standout year finishing first in the Atlantic 10 and winning the Atlantic 10 tournament.

Both teams play incredible defense so this may be a low-scoring game, but definitely one to look forward to.

No. 4 UConn vs. No. 13 Iona

UConn may be favored to win in this matchup, especially with arguably one of the best players in the West Region in their lineup, Adama Sanogo.

But Iona is hot right now, as it just won its sixth MAAC title since 2016 and is on a 14-game winning streak.

UConn finished fourth in the Big East this season living in the shadows of Marquette, so it's safe to say the Huskies are ready to show everyone what they are truly made of.

Don’t be shocked if this one is much closer than it looks on paper.

No. 6 TCU vs No. 11 Nevada/Arizona St.

TCU is one to look out for as it has one of the best weapons in the west, Mike Miles.

The Horned Frogs finished fifth in the Big 12 behind some of the best teams in the country.

They know how to compete, but whoever they face will surely not go down easy.

No. 3 Gonzaga vs No. 14 Grand Canyon

Gonzaga has been one of the top teams in the NCAA for a while now. It is shocking to see the Zags as a three seed as they have been the top seed four times in the past six years.

The Bulldogs have yet to put a national championship on their resume, falling short in the championship in both 2017 and 2021.

Maybe their time has finally come, and without all of the pressure it might just be possible.

Look out for their senior forward Drew Timme, as he shines brightest this time of year.

As for Grand Canyon, this is the second time they have made the tournament and both times have been in the past three seasons.

Maybe less experience, but definitely not less determination.

No. 7 Northwestern vs. No. 10 Boise State

Northwestern has had itself an unexpectedly successful season, finishing third in the Big Ten.

This is only the Wildcats’ second appearance in the Big Dance and we have no doubt they are going to make it count. It looks like the Wildcats are in good hands considering their head coach, Chris Collins’ is the Big Ten Coach of the Year.

Boise State finished third but in the Mountain West. The Broncos are 0-8 in the tournament and are looking for their first tournament win in program history.

This one will likely be a defensive matchup since both teams have a fantastic style to them, so it is definitely a must watch.

No. 2 UCLA vs. No. 15 UNC Asheville

UCLA’s basketball program has done nothing but improve over the course of the past few years.

The Bruins finished first in the Pac-12 but fell short of the Pac-12 championship as they lost by two to Arizona.

Regardless of the loss, we have known this team to be a powerhouse especially when it comes to March.

UCLA’s standout senior Jaime Jaquez Jr. has been a huge asset to the team and its tournament successes and there’s no doubt he is hungry to take home the trophy.

As for UNC Asheville, it is on a nine-game winning streak and finished first in the Big South and took home the title.

They have proved to be more than deserving of a spot in this tournament and they just may prove us all wrong.

All of these 16 teams are teams to look out for and each and every one of them has the ability to waltz their way to Houston.

Gia Sabatino is a first year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact her, email her at