March Madness taps the top four on Wednesday, but after that the regions with 16 teams are done and the real fun begins. The West region has number 1 in Gonzaga, but it is anything but top-heavy.
First round – March 20th Second round – March 22nd Sweet 16-28th March * Elite 8 – March 30th * </ Gonzaga was number 1 goals this year and they stayed there all year. Similar to previous years, Gonzaga started with a difficult schedule outside of the conference. Things then cooled a little when they hit the WCC part of their schedule.
However, it is worth noting that BYU, number 6 in the Eastern Region, was having a tough time for Mark Few’s group. Ultimately, Gonzaga’s pace and score was too high for any of their opponents, which resulted in them having probably the best chance the school ever had for a national title. Not only do they have the best points per game average in the nation, but they also have a nearly 6 point lead.
Iowa was led by the leader of the Senior and Timber Awards, Luka Garza, and was one of the few teams to make the Gonzaga awarded first place. However, just before the start of the season they faced the front runner in the West and it didn’t end well. After holding on for ten minutes, Gonzaga ran off on his way to a 99-88 win.
It wasn’t a smooth sailing for Iowa that ran through the glove of the Big Ten. The conference accounts for half of the ranking lists for the efficiency margin adapted by KenPom. Much of this is due to their 3-point shooting percentage, which is in the top 15 in the nation. Her ability to land from the deep, combined with the big man in the middle, will make her difficult for most.
Iowa isn’t the only team in the brackets Gonzaga has come across. Kansas actually started its season with a 12-point loss to the senior team. But the story for Kansas was far more about the end of the season than the beginning. After moving into the semi-finals of the Big 12 tournament, Kansas had to drop out due to COVID concerns. While they’d dropped both games against planned opponent Texas, that win (paired with a possible final win) could have put Kansas in one of those brackets to number 2. It seems like they’re on the right track to compete in March Madness with no further hesitation, but it’s definitely worth keeping an eye out for.
USC is a team that, with its Star Center Evan Mobley ascends and descends. The newbie is sure to be selected in the top 5 of the upcoming NBA draft (should he explain this). When he’s at his best, he’s a double-doubles machine and can get scores in his mid to high 20s. When he’s in a down game, those rebound numbers have not only fallen into single numbers, but also into numbers like 5 or 3. Should he put some big games together, as he did at the conference tournament, they could cause damage some of these higher seeds.
Ohio loves the fast paced, high score games and they love them far more than most of the lower seeds. As a team, you achieve an average of almost 81 points per game and 8.5 three-point points per game. The most terrible thing about them is that they spread the wealth. It’s not all about a sniper as there can be many lower seeds when you see statistics like this. Instead, there are a number of archers who can shorten an opponent’s March Madness. It may take a couple of these guys to get hot, but if they do they could hurt a lot of teams.
As mentioned above, Ohio loves to bomb them. In addition, the spread of shooters should enable them to save a day of cold shooting across the board. With that, you can expect this game to stay in the score and safely within that 7-point range.
The balance sheet may look good for Abilene Christian, but the strength of the schedule is pretty slim. Their strength of the schedule (according to KenPom) was ranked 330th nationwide. When they rose in the competition, they fell pretty flat. Their game against Arkansas (an 85-72 loss) looks a lot like what I would imagine Texas would do. As a result, I expect Texas to be covered fairly easily.
While there are a few other names worth mentioning within this bracket, the fact is that Gonzaga won several of them. You should be able to get out of that bracket with no real concern, especially if the great man Drew Timme’s game endures.
Daniel “Gumby” Vreeland has been an MMA writer for over a decade. His credits include FloCombat, Fight! Magazine, The UG and MMA Manifesto. In addition to writing, “Gumby” hosts the Top Turtle Podcast and is a member of the UFC Ranking Panel. While Gumby only recently expanded into other sports, he was a lifelong fan of baseball and basketball. His experiences in the sport included a purple jiu-jitsu belt and a college pitcher résumé.
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