March Madness brackets can be a chore to fill out if you don’t feel well prepared. The West region, as much as any, might be a tough section to predict in 2015.
No. 1 seed Wisconsin (31-3) won the Big Ten tournament to earn their top seeding. Arizona (31-3), the No. 2 seed, and Pac-12 champion, nearly earned a top seed. Baylor and North Carolina round out the top four in the region. All four teams should be tough matchups for just about any team.
The West region might be tough to predict, and relatively wide open. There is also a lot of talent on the squads seeded in the middle of the pack. No. 5 seed Arkansas and No. 8 Oregon both made their conference tournament finals. That shows they’re playing well at the right time and might be a bit underrated.
Here’s a look at the pertinent details of the West region before the bulk of the play is set to tip-off:
Player to Watch: Frank Kaminsky, C, Wisconsin
The seven-footer does a lot for the Badgers, and they’ll need him to play well to live up to their potential. He leads the team in points (18.2) and rebounds (8.0), and does a solid job of finishing at the rim. Kaminsky was named the 2015 Big Ten Conference Player of the Year, and could be the main reason the Badgers advance to the Final Four.
The Badgers are the top-seed and will definitely be tough to beat. They have 19/10 odds to win the region, according to bovada.lv. Wisconsin made the Final Four last year and are hungry to get back. Bo Ryan is an experienced coach and has his team playing a more fast-paced, offensive game. Their fortunes might just rest on Kaminsky, who has been perhaps the best player in the country.
However, Arizona actually has a better chance to win the region. Their odds are 8/5 to win the West and 15/2 to win the championship. Only Kentucky has a better shot at winning the tournament. Wisconsin might be considered the favorites on paper, but Arizona appears to have the more balanced squad. It could be a toss up and Vegas seems to be leaning toward the Wildcats.
Upset Pick: Oregon
This is a case of a team getting hot at the right time. Dana Altman’s squad is led by Pac-12 Player of the Year Joseph Young, who has averaged 20.2 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.7 assists. The senior guard is a star and might be able to carry the Ducks. He’ll likely have to out-do Kaminsky if Oregon advances past Oklahoma State to the third round.
For a single game upset, consider BYU or Ole Miss. Whichever team wins the play-in will take on Xavier, who lost to Villanova in the Big East tournament final. Both BYU and Ole Miss are solid teams, with BYU featuring an especially high-powered offense that can keep them in any game. Xavier is playing well, but the Musketeers have been prone to streaky play this season, leaving them prone to an upset.
Conclusion: Pick Arizona
The Wildcats might be the most complete team in the region. They have a rotating cast of solid forwards, veteran leadership and a great defense. Freshman swingman Stanley Johnson (14.1 ppg) will take over some games with his athleticism and power forward Brandon Ashley appears poised to maintain his current hot streak. Senior guard T.J. McConnell provides the leadership on a team with plenty of experience. Sean Miller’s squad might just show they deserved that No. 1 seed after all.