March Madness: West Region Preview

Story posted March 19, 2021 in Sports, CommRadio by Trevor Grady

It’s been over 700 days since the world was blessed with the best weekend of the year: March Madness. Well folks, it’s back. Let’s take a look at the West Region.

The West region is home to the No. 1 overall seed and, in a lot of people’s eyes, the number one player in the country. The Gonzaga Bulldogs and Luka Garza’s Iowa Hawkeyes are sitting on the one and two seed lines.

Gonzaga is obviously the team to beat, and the Zags will take on Norfolk State who narrowly took down Appalachian State in the First Four play-in game, 54-53. The Bulldogs will head into the game trying to avoid the fate that has only played out one time before - a 1-seed taking down a 16-seed.

The Zags enter the tournament undefeated on the year with a 26-0 record and wins over Iowa, Kansas and Virginia. Those three teams are the two, three, and four seeds respectively in the West Region. Gonzaga will try to be the first team since the 1976 Indiana Hoosiers to complete the undefeated season.

The No. 2 seed Iowa Hawkeyes match up in the first round with WAC champion Grand Canyon. Iowa boasts the likely Wooden Award winner, Luka Garza. Garza averages 23.7 points and 8.8 rebounds per game while shooting 54.7% from the floor. The Hawkeyes have finished the regular season 4-2 in their last six games.

A typical team that makes a ton of noise this year is the Kansas Jayhawks. Bill Self has his squad sitting at a No. 3 seed and taking on Eastern Washington in the first round.

The Jayhawks had to pull out of the Big 12 tournament due to COVID-19 problems within their tier-1 personnel. They will have to make sure they steer clear of any rust that has accumulated during their pause.

As for some potential upsets to watch out for, there are a few.

The Ohio Bobcats certainly look like a scary team to match up with in the first round. Their star point guard, Jason Preston, can do it all. He averages 16.6 points, 6.8 rebounds and 7.2 assists per game. He’s not the only guy who can put up points though. All five of the Bobcats’ starters average double figure points per game.

They are taking on another team who had to pull out of their conference tournament due to COVID-19 concerns in Virginia. With all of these factors combining, the Bobcats could be a possible upset in the West Region.

The other team to look out for is UC Santa Barbara. The Gauchos will take on the No. 5 seeded Creighton Bluejays in the first round. Creighton is coming off an embarrassing 73-48 loss to Georgetown in the Big East Tournament championship and have looked very vulnerable late in the season.

Gonzaga is the clear favorite to come out of this region, but don’t be surprised if some other teams make some noise. After all, this is March.

 

Trevor Grady is a junior majoring in management information systems and minoring in journalism. To contact him, email tmg5685@psu.edu.