The West Region of the NCAA Tournament bracket isn’t loaded with big names, but that doesn’t mean it’ll be any less exciting. Arguably the top “mid-major” in the country managed to snag the No. 1 seed, but they’ll have to be on their guard against a few hungry programs.
The college basketball odds to win the west are changes, so keep an eye on the lines.
Gonzaga (+235) rolled through the West Coast Conference and played well against some very good ranked teams this season, but now they have to prove their No. 1 ranking to end the season wasn’t a fluke. They’re a very efficient team that doesn’t hurt itself and that is crucial when you’re coming down the stretch in a March Madness game. Second-seeded Ohio State (+300) is probably the team that casual fans know the most about, and Deshaun Thomas is the leader of a team that won the Big Ten tournament.
No. 3 New Mexico (+350) has flown under the radar due to playing in (and winning) the Mountain West Conference, but this is a team that could cause some problems with their ball movement and their ability to play either a slowed-down game or an uptempo affair.
Wisconsin (+800) earned a No. 5 seed after taking the Buckeyes to the limit in the Big Ten tourney final, but as always, many people have an issue with their deliberate style of offense and don’t feel like they can score enough points to go far in the NCAA Tournament. However, they do defend very well and cannot be overlooked. Pittsburgh (+850) emerged from the tough-as-nails Big East as an eighth seed, and they’re a balanced offensive team that moves the ball and shoots for a high percentage; always a formula for a team that will be tough.
Then you have No. 6 Arizona (+1000) and No. 4 Kansas State (+1800), two sets of Wildcats that are looking to throw their name into the ring. ‘Zona fell just short to UCLA in the Pac-12 in both the regular season and the conference tournament, but they score enough to be considered a threat. Kansas State couldn’t get the best of their rivals from Kansas and they don’t score as much as Arizona, but they’re a hard-nosed team that is going to battle you in every possession.
While the Bulldogs from Gonzaga are the favorites, it wouldn’t really be a surprise if any of the top six seeds won the West Region. You could even throw No. 7 Notre Dame (+3000) in the mix as a darkhorse that managed to get through the Big East, and that has to say something for their pedigree.
However, the winner should come from the top three seeds and you should roll with Ohio State, which plays hard at both ends of the floor, has an experienced point guard in Aaron Craft and in Thomas, the Buckeyes have a player that can take over offensively. This is a team that has plenty of experience and their best players are probably better than the best that ‘Zaga or New Mexico has to offer. Roll with Ohio State on the betting lines in the West.
Pick: Ohio State