March Madness Bracket Selection: West Region

March Madness is upon us, and that means brackets. Whether you are serious about every single selection or just looking to have fun, everyone is creating a bracket with the hope of being perfect. Thus, you are going to need all of the help you can get. To prepare for this holy tournament, I have watched and analyzed over 200 hours worth of college basketball to try and correctly pick this year’s tournament. However, even with this excess amount of random college basketball knowledge, I will probably not be close to picking a correct bracket. Therefore, please do not take my picks and copy them game-by-game. Instead, use the pieces of information I give you to make your picks and decisions. With that said, as the lead college basketball analyst at the Sports Wave, these are my selections for the west region in this year’s March Madness.

West Region

Round of 64

1. Gonzaga vs 16. Norfolk St./Appalachian St. 3/20 9:20 EST

Without a doubt, the easiest choice you will make in your bracket. However, that does not mean Norfolk St. and Appalachian St. are a cakewalk either. Both teams have enjoyed great success despite the confusion of the past year. Led by junior guard Adrian Delph, Appalachian St. upset the number one seeded Georgia St. in the Sun Belt championship. Additionally, Norfolk St. has been on a hot streak of its own. They are winners of 9 of their last 10 with an easy sweep through the MEAC. Their star guard Devante Carter looks to ruin Appalachian’s run so far, and it seems like he will. Nonetheless, despite both school’s excellent paths so far, neither can compete with Gonzaga powerhouse. Winner: Gonzaga

8. Oklahoma vs 9. Missouri 3/20 7:25 PM EST

The eight seed vs. the nine seed is always a hard choice, and this game is no different. Additionally, the similarities between both teams are surprisingly coincidental. Both teams run through their offense; both have beaten Alabama and disappointed most people the second half of the season. Nonetheless, they are both here and looking to start the tournament with a win. There are four players to keep track of in this game: Austin Reaves and De’Vion Harmon for Oklahoma and Dru Smith and Xavier Pinson for Missouri. Consequently, the team playing in the round of 32 will need their star players to show. Thus, I am choosing Oklahoma for their aggressive and quality offensive play. Winner: Oklahoma

5. Creighton vs 12. UC Santa Barbara 3/20 3:30 PM EST

While some are maybe looking to put this as their first upset, I will assure you to wait for at least one more game. However, that does not mean Santa Barbara will be a walk in the park. Led by their star guard JaQuori McLaughlin, the Gauchos have cruised to an impressive 22-4 record, winning the Big West Conference. Contrasted with Creighton’s poor defense, the Blue Jays could run into trouble early. There is one player that changes the landscape of this game, however. Marcus Zegarowski. Despite being injured for a good chunk of the season, Marcus Zegarowski has exploded into the college basketball spotlight and has been the focal point of the Blue Jay offense. Additionally, Creighton’s elite three-point should push them past the first round. Winner: Creighton

4. Virginia vs 13. Ohio 3/20 7:15 PM EST

Our first game where Covid-19 might be a problem. Cavaliers have run into some Covid-19 issues this past week, and it certainly does not bode well for their chances against Ohio. Additionally, Virginia has struggled too. Losers of 3 of their last six cause some questions to arise. Their defense is excellent though they will have to rely on it to make out of the first round. Furthermore, Ohio is not a cakewalk either. The Bobcats, led by the fantastic three-point shooter, Jason Preston, already had a great chance to upset any team that came their way. Add Covid-19 to the mix, and I think this will be one of the first-round upsets. Winner: Ohio

6. USC vs 11. Wichita St./Drake 3/20 4:30 PM EST

Undoubtedly, Evan Mobley will be the focal point of this game. Evan Mobley has dominated the Pac-12 through athleticism and agility as a big man. Coming in as the Pac-12’s Player, Defensive, Freshman of the Year, Evan Mobley will be seeking a second-round berth against the winner of Wichita St. and Drake. However, that is the problem, who will be the winner? And this is where sneaky and careful plays come in. The Witchita St. shockers have played outstanding up until this point, including a big win over Houston. Moreover, led by the crafty guard, Tyson Etienne, I think they can shock some people this postseason.

However, their tournament starts with Drake, and Drake is not an easy team to beat either. Coming in with an astounding 25-4 record, Drake certainly can pull an upset too. That said, I do believe Wichita St. is the better team and more likely to beat USC in the following round. Nonetheless, I will pick USC to win due to this uncertainty unless the Shockers beat the Bulldogs beforehand. Winner: USC

3. Kansas vs 14. Eastern Washington 3/20 1:15 PM EST

Here is another game where Covid-19 might be a problem. As you may have heard, Covid-19 has struck the Jayhawks, causing them to leave three players behind as they head to the tournament. Moreover, one of these players is Jalen Wilson, an excellent offensive forward who leads the rebounds. Apart from this, Kansas does not even expect David McCormack until later in the week, also caused by Covid-19. Consequently, Kansas will be going into the tournament short-handed and with a lack of practice. Despite these setbacks, I still do believe that Kansas will win. Eastern Washington’s team is fantastic, led by their forward Tanner Groves; the Eagles have won 14 of their last 15 games. However, their lack of experience against big-time opponents scares me, and I do not think their defense can stop Kansas. Winner: Kansas

7. Oregon vs 10. VCU 3/20 9:57 PM EST

Do not worry, Duck’s fans, Chris Duarte and Eugene Omoruyi will carry the team to at least one win. Oregon has played much better than their seed would indicate. Despite winning 11 of their past 13 games, it was surprising that the Ducks ranked low. Additionally, Oregon’s offense, ranked 16th by Kenpom, has led many to believe that they are the best team in the Pac-12. Nonetheless, they made the tournament and are facing the VCU Rams. The Rams are the exact opposite of the Ducks; they like to play defense. VCU has perfected the art of playing defense and has let up only 65.2 PPG. Their defense has brought them this far, and it will be interesting to see how they match with an offense like Oregon. However, I still doubt the Ram’s offense will keep the Ducks at bay and pull an upset. Winner: Oregon

2. Iowa vs 15. Grand Canyon University 3/20 6:25 PM EST

If you have not heard Luka Garza’s name yet, get ready cause you are about to listen to his name a lot. Luka Garza and the Iowa Hawkeyes are arguably the best two-seed in the tournament. And for them, it all starts with their offense. Iowa is coming into the tournament with the 2nd best offense, according to Kenpom. Additionally, star guards Jordan Bohannon and Joe Wieskamp have set the BIG10 on fire with their three-point skills. Therefore, it is hard to picture Iowa losing in the first round and even the second round. Despite their best efforts, GCU will probably be heading home early this year. However, expect this squad to be around the next few years. Coached by Bryce Drew, sophomore Jovan Blacksher will be a terror in next year’s tournament. Winner: Iowa

Round of 32

1. Gonzaga vs 8. Oklahoma 3/22

I feel so bad for Oklahoma. Placed in any other region, and they might have shot to go another round, but against Gonzaga, they have no shot. Above all, the Sooners can not match the offensive production of the Bulldogs. Elijah Harkless is a good defender, but there is no way he will keep up with Jalen Suggs, Drew Timme, and most importantly, Corey Kispert. Thus, the Bulldogs will easily beat Oklahoma and continue their run into the Sweet 16. Winner: Gonzaga

5. Creighton vs 13. Ohio 3/22

Could Ohio pull another upset, or will Creighton stop their potential run? Unfortunately for the Bobcats, I do see their run ending here. If these two met in the Round of 32, the game would be extremely close and a possible one-possession game. However, I doubt Ohio’s ability to contain each of Creighton’s stars and most likely fall victim to a Marcus Zegarowski god-like performance. Hence, Creighton will move on and face Gonzaga in the Sweet 16. Winner: Creighton

3. Kansas vs 6. USC 3/22

I think this is where Kansas’ Covid-19 problems catch up to them. A lack of proper conditioning and practice will catch up to them here, causing them to fall short to USC. Additionally, without their best defender in Jalen Wilson, I doubt the Jayhawks can contain Evan Mobley from running wild. In a perfect world free of Covid-19, this would be an exciting game from start-to-finish. Nevertheless, USC catches a break and advances to the Sweet 16. Winner: USC

2. Iowa vs 7. Oregon 3/22

If Oregon were facing any other two seed, they would have a shot, but they get to meet Iowa instead. Based on how Iowa’s offense continues to dominate opponents, I do not think Oregon will match-up well, especially against Luka Garza. For Oregon to win this game, they will need to play near-perfect on offense from start-to-finish. The Duck’s cannot allow Iowa to go on massive runs since there is virtually no way for them to match that intensity. However, I still think Iowa pulls off the victory and moves on to the Elite 8. Winner: Iowa

Sweet 16

1. Gonzaga vs 5. Creighton 3/27

Creighton will be another team that will fall short due to Gonzaga’s unstoppable force. I do not see a timeline in which Gonzaga loses any of its first three games. The Bulldogs are too good, and their machine-like offense can plow over any team in its path. Additionally, despite Marcus Zegarowski’s best efforts, I cannot see him playing well in this game. The Bulldog’s defense will key in on him all game and limit his ability to score significantly. Joel Ayayi will prove himself as being an invaluable asset and will lockdown Zegarowski. Thus, Gonzaga continues their trek to the regional championship. Winner: Gonzaga

2. Iowa vs 6. USC 3/27

Luka Garza and Evan Mobley face off against each other in this insane possible matchup. The question is, who will win? To me, this game will come down to which team’s backcourt performs better. Will it be Tahj Eaddy and Drew Peterson of the Trojans or Joe Wieskamp and Jordan Bohannon of the Hawkeyes? Based on prior experience and the ability to shoot, I lean towards the Iowa Hawkeyes. However, this game will be extremely close, and USC has a legitimate chance to win. But, USC needs their guards to step up and play at an incredible level. Winner: Iowa

Elite 8

1. Gonzaga vs 2. Iowa 3/29

The matchup everyone has been waiting for to watch for Iowa, their revenge game, and for Gonzaga, their last team before the final four. Coincidentally, this will be Gonzaga’s first real test and their first game where chances to win weaken. In these two team’s first matchup on December 19th, Gonzaga handled Iowa pretty efficiently, winning 99-88. However, this is a new Iowa team. Luka Garza has perfected his game to match anything the Bulldogs might throw at him. Furthermore, Garza certainly does not want his college career to end on a loss and will do whatever it takes to make the final four.

That said, there is only one Luka Garza going up against Jalen Suggs, Corey Kispert, Drew Timme, and Joel Ayayi. Despite Garza’s best efforts, I can not see him and the Hawkeyes beating Gonzaga at the moment. Resulting in Gonzaga making another final four appearance. Winner: Gonzaga

Check in to the Sports Wave for upcoming game picks in each of the other regions. Also check out a detailed article about the best current teams in the nation: