Earlier today, I previewed the South and East regions, giving you a few reasons to get behind each of the remaining teams in those regions. Here, I’ll break down the West and Midwest regions.
Root for the Ducks if: you crave chaos, you like musicians, Pac-12 bias
- I’ve entered a bracket into three pools this year with a cumulative total of 74 people. Of those 74, the only person who picked Oregon as the national champion is an English girl who has seen two games of basketball (neither from this year) and picked based on mascots alone. Didn’t even know the seeds. If Oregon makes the championship game against a popular pick, they could annoy a lot of people.
- Is it just me or does Dwayne Benjamin look like a cross between Snoop Dogg and Reggie Watts?
- So Oregon won the Pac-12 and got a 1-seed. Indiana won the Big 10 and got a 5-seed. Besides the conference tournament results, they have pretty similar resumes. I understand seeding Oregon ahead of IU, but four seed lines? Besides that, most Pac-12 teams had higher seeds than expected. Regional biases are shifting.
Root for the Blue Devils if: you trippin‘, you’re invested in Brandon Ingram’s draft stock, you hate America
- BREAKING: Grayson Allen was actually made in a lab by Duke University as an experiment to find out how much America could hate the “Duke-white-guy”. Results are yet inconclusive, but researchers claim it’s somewhere between “that fourth Indiana Jones movie” and “Joffrey Baratheon”.
- It still sounds like Ben Simmons will be the first pick of the 2016 NBA Draft, but if Ingram impresses and takes Duke to another Final Four or championship, he could be lucky enough to play for the Sixers!
- Let’s be honest. The only people who want Duke to win are Duke fans. Everyone else will be upset. Don’t let Duke win.
Root for the Aggies if: you HATE Northern Iowa, you HATE Kentucky, you HATE shortening the bench
- Jeez, wouldn’t it be a slap in the face to the lumberjacks if the Aggies make it to the Final Four? After that epic collapse, Northern Iowa may just cancel the basketball team.
- Kentucky is the biggest kid on the block in the SEC. The two shared the regular season crown in the worst Power 7 conference, but the Wildcats took the tournament championship game. If the Aggies win a couple more games, they’ll have to be considered the more successful team this year.
- Eight players on Texas A&M averaged at least 16 minutes over the regular season. Eight players have played at least 16 minutes in each of their first two games of the tournament as well.
Root for the Sooners if: Buddy Hield rustles your jimmies, you want an OU vs. UofO matchup, you’re a general fan of the Big 12
- I still think about that first meeting with Kansas this season. Kid knows how to score.
- Technically, it’s the University of Oklahoma so both schools should be UofO, but people still say OU in reference to Oklahoma. No idea why. We could also get a UNC vs. UND and UM vs. UM, for those who like that.
- The Big 12 was a by far the best conference in the regular season this year, but has been a bit disappointing in the Tournament thus far. West Virginia, Baylor, Texas, and Texas Tech all lost to lower seeds in the first round. That leaves Oklahoma, Iowa State, and Kansas to rep the conference.
Root for the Cavaliers if: you love defense, the most unheralded great player in the country, you like bucking the trend
- The past five years have the Cavaliers’ Adjusted Defense ranked 6th, 24th, 5th, 1st, and 4th according to KenPom.com. That’s called a system.
- Nobody talks about Malcolm Brogdon. Everyone knows who he is, but he doesn’t get the respect he deserves. He averaged 18.1 points this year on 47% shooting (40% from deep). Plus only 1.4 turnovers per game. Those are just stats, but watch him play – passes the eye test as well. By the way, Brogdon v. Niang will be great.
- The last two seasons, Virginia was a 1-seed and a 2-seed. In 2014, they lost to 4-seed Michigan State in the Sweet Sixteen. In 2015, they lost to 7-seed Michigan State in the second round. This year, they were looking at a possible meeting with the Spartans in the Elite 8 as the 1- and 2-seeds in the region. The Cavaliers can thank Middle Tennessee State for taking care of their demons.
Root for the Cyclones if: you love meteorological event-themed mascots, you think offense is more fun than defense, comeback stories
- See also: Hurricanes, Miami; Red Storm, St. John’s; Golden Hurricane, Tulsa; and others.
- Iowa State has the second-best offense in the country (behind now-eliminated Michigan State). They are facing off with previously-noted Virginia’s acclaimed defense. If for some reason you weren’t going to watch this game before, I hope you are now. I’m more excited for it than any other matchup this round.
- I mean, it’s not really a comeback story, but when previous head coach Fred Hoiberg left for the Chicago Bulls last offseason, did anyone really think Iowa State had much of a chance? We knew Georges Niang would be back, but still. Bully for the Cyclones.
Root for the Bulldogs if: your friend is a fan of a different West Coast Conference team, you like writing in “zags” on your bracket because it looks and sounds cool, seeing lamenting Kentucky fans
- Nothing annoys a Santa Clara or Pepperdine fan than seeing the conference’s big bully succeed.
- Same goes with writing “X” instead of Xavier or “Cuse”.
- Kyle Wiltjer’s departure from Kentucky after two seasons in BBN was pretty amicable, but UK has to be thinking what if now that he’s blossomed into one of the best players in the country. Although, I suppose they usually have a decent amount of talent anyway…
Root for the Orange if: you like really easy paths to the Elite 8, religious devotion to zone defense, long public retirement announcements
- Syracuse has faced Dayton (7-seed) and Middle Tennessee State (15-seed) meaning they’ve probably had the easiest path to this point. Now they take on Gonzaga (admittedly under-seeded at 11, but still) with a trip to the regional final on the line.
- I’ve watched a few Syracuse games now and it seems to me like this group doesn’t run that 2-3 zone as well as others have. But then I checked and they are still ranked 21st in Adjusted Defense according to KenPom.com. You’d think people would have figured it out by now…
- Kobe announced his retirement near the beginning of this, his final season. That’s been a great farewell tour! So was Derek Jeter’s. Alex Rodriguez just announced his retirement after two more seasons. That’s kind of strange, but that sort of makes it appropriate that he’d want that attention for two years. Boeheim’s three-more-seasons approach seems a bit lengthy, but I guess it’s alright because he’s been such a staple there for so long that he is the program, really.