Your Guide To The 2019 NCAA Men’s Tournament: West region
Best seed perspective: Gonzaga is the best team in the West with a substantial margin, but the Zags, despite reaching the final two years ago, have performed well under this tournament’s glowing lights. Still, Gonzaga has a 70 percent probability of reaching the Elite Eight, according to our model, as well as the third-best odds of any team to accomplish the national championship match (26 percent).
If Gonzaga face Syracuse in the next round, the Bulldogs trouble could be given by the Orange’s zone defense. This is the best offense Mark Few has experienced Spokane, but it could possibly be tested by any of the terrific defenses in the West: Four of the top 15 can be found in this area, including the top two at Texas Tech and Michigan.
Sneaky Final Four select: No. 4 Florida State. A fixture at the KenPom Top 20 for the majority of the season, the Seminoles are hoping to build on last year’s tournament run, which saw them come inside a 4-point margin of creating the Final Four. FSU has a dominant defense (No. 9 in Pomeroy’s evaluations ) and a balanced roster that saw four players collect at least 2.5 win shares. This draw isn’t terrible, either: Vermont isn’t particularly difficult as a first-round foe, and Marquette is quite beatable (more on that below). No. 1 seeded Gonzaga probably looms after that, and we give FSU a 24 percent chance against the Zags — but the Seminoles could have a 48 percent chance of making the Final Four when they had been to pull off the upset.
Don’t wager on: No. 5 Marquette. Teams seeded fifth are not generally good bets to make it past the Sweet 16 anyway, but Marquette could be a particularly bad pick. According to the FiveThirtyEight energy evaluations, the Golden Eagles are by far the worst No. 5 seed in the area, and a first-round date with breakout mid-major superstar Ja Morant did not do any favors. Marquette has a star power of its own in junior guard Markus Howard, who ranks sixth in the nation with an average of 25 points per game, but this team lost five of its final six matches and has a challenging tournament road ahead of it.
Cinderella see: No. 10 Florida. The Gators may have been among the bubble teams to sneak into the field of 68, however they could be poised to do some damage that they are here. They brought Nevada, a so-so No. 7 seed, in the first round, and also we give Florida a 42 percent chance of pulling the upset there. Last year’s nationwide runner-up, Michigan, probably waits in Round two, and that’s a difficult matchup (23 percent likelihood of Florida) — but when the Gators win, they’ve a 38 percent likelihood of making the Elite Eight. Than the normal 10-seed, Florida looks better in a region with a number of good-but-flawed possibilities.
Player to watch: Gonzaga, Brandon Clarke The Zags’ linchpin is not the consensus lottery selection, nor the two veteran guards who have together started 87 percent of the games of Gonzaga over the previous two seasons. It’s a move from San Jose State who is in his first season with the team, Brandon Clarke. He’s perhaps the most underappreciated player in the nation.
On a team that comes with a it’s Clarke, at 6-foot-8, who’s tasked with protecting the paint this season. Clarke has responded by placing a single-season blocks record and submitting the highest block speed of any team under Couple.
“Should I feel as when I can get a good, fast jump first, I’ll pretty much leap with anyone,” Clarke told me. “I mean, I have seen Zion (Williamson) coming down through the lane before TV, and when I can not jump at the ideal time, I likely wouldn’t jump , however… I don’t really see myself not jumping with anybody.”
Likeliest first-round upsets: No. 9 Baylor over No. 8 Syracuse (48 percent); No. 10 Florida over No. 7 Nevada (42 percent); No. 12 Murray State over No. 5 Marquette (32 percent)
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