NCAA Tournament 2014: A west region preview

Ethan Miller

Gonzaga is going to be chilling here for a few days, lets take a look at all the teams in the west region.

The most likely scenario is that Gonzaga plays one, maybe two games and is done this year. But then again, March Madness is known for being wildly unpredictable. So let's give the Gonzaga Bulldogs the benefit of the doubt and take a quick look at every single team in the west region.

No. 1 Arizona Wildcats

In case you lived under a rock, the Wildcats were very good pretty much all year long. They are led by junior guard Nick Johnson but the real man of the hour is freshman wunderkid Aaron Gordon. Gordon averages 12.1 points and 7.8 rebounds and was a force on the offensive glass. Combined with 7' center Kaleb Tarczewski, few teams in the nation can compete with Arizona's frontcourt combination of size and talent. The Wildcats got to the top seed by simply utilizing the top defense in the nation. Usually, when your team has that under its belt it will win a lot of games.

No. 2 Wisconsin Badgers

Let's just hope for entertainment sake that Arizona and Wisconsin don't meet up in the Elite Eight. The Badgers aren't quite as good on defense as Arizona is, but they aren't half bad. Also, few teams like to grind it out as slowly and as hard as a Bo Ryan coached team. Wisconsin pounds it down low through Frank Kaminksy and Sam Dekker. The veteran backcourt of Ben Brust and Traevon Jackson is there to try and maintain an outside threat. Wisconsin is just as capable of scoring 83 points in a win as it is grinding out a 48-38 win. Ugh.

No. 3 Creighton Bluejays

The Doug McDermott and company's will be quite fun to watch because Doug McDermott is always fun to watch. He was the nation's leading scorer this year with 26.9 points per game and is always capable of going off for 35, or 45, if he wants to. The Bluejays score a ton of points and do it all from the three point line. They were the nations top three point shooting team, with pretty much every player on the floor a threat to hit the long ball.

No. 4 San Diego State Aztecs

The west region is just full of teams that relish the defensive aspect of a basketball game. San Diego State has the No. 7 ranked defense according to Ken Pomeroy, although its offense leaves a little to be desired. Opponents scored just 56.6 points per game against the Aztecs, the second best mark in the nation. The team lives and dies by (once upon a time Washington State player) senior guard Xavier Thames. Thames is the best guard on the west coast and definitely one of the best in the nation. He will be the key to this team going the distance in the tournament.

No. 5 Oklahoma Sooners

Oklahoma is pegged for an early round upset, and with good reason. Although the Sooners do a fantastic job of scoring the ball, defense is a complete afterthought for this squad. They can keep up with just about anyone, however, averaging 82.2 points per game, good for seventh in the nation. The thing is, this is a high volume shooting team. Oklahoma shoots 45 percent as a team, good for 132nd in the nation. Still, the Sooners do what it takes to score a lot of points. Four of their five starters average double digit points.

No. 6 Baylor Bears

There was a time when Baylor was really good this year, and then conference play started up. The Bears lost five straight conference games, but appear to be rallying at the proper time. The Bears are another halfway decent shooting team, but they make up for the lack of precision by grabbing every offensive rebound on the planet. The Bears have 500 offensive rebounds as a team this year, good for third in the nation. They also throw some serious height on the floor with 7'1 center Isaiah Austin and 6'9 forward Cory Jefferson. Austin, especially, is a shot changer in the paint.

No. 7 Oregon Ducks

Man, here is another team that really bottomed out when conference play started. Oregon opened the year 13-0, then promptly lost five straight Pac-12 games. Still, the Ducks are an exciting, offense oriented team, led by junior guard Joseph Young. The transfer from Houston was eighth in the nation in offensive rating and never saw a three point shot he didn't like. Mike Moser cleans it up down low for Oregon, but that is about it for post play. The Ducks are a severely undersized team, and this might be a problem in the tournament.

No. 8 Gonzaga Bulldogs

Hey that is us!

No. 9 Oklahoma State Cowboys

Here is the thing about Oklahoma State, they can go to hell. The Cowboys peaked at No. 5 during the season and rock-bottomed when Marcus Smart shoved a fan (for semi-justifiable reasons) and was suspended for three games. Because Smart is on the team, everyone is scared of Oklahoma State and says it is the most dangerous No. 9 seed there is. Still, the Cowboys went on a seven-game losing streak at one point this season. Smart was gone for some of it, but not all of it. We'll have more in-depth looks at Oklahoma State this week, but for now, don't buy into the mystical hype.

No. 10 BYU Cougars

It'll be a rough go for BYU this year since Kyle Collinsworth ended up severely injuring his knee in the WCC Tournament championship game against Gonzaga. BYU landing this high was a bit surprising, but if I'm Oregon I'm more afraid of the Cougars than anyone else is. BYU took Oregon too overtime in Eugene, and this was during the beginning of the season when Oregon looked like one of the best teams in the country.

No. 11 Nebraska Cornhuskers

Nebraska is making its first tournament appearance since 1998. The Cornhuskers are a defensive minded team with a hard-nosed front court that can dish out a few fits. Winger Terran Petteway leads the team with 18.1 points and guard Shavon Shields is second on the team with 12.7 points per game. Offense is a luxury for this team with one of the slower paces in the nation, but Nebraska forces opponents to play its half court game.

No. 12 North Dakota State Bisons

North Dakota State is a popular upset pick solely because it is the best shooting team in the nation. As far as I'm concerned, that is a good enough reason. The Bison don't really believe in defense, but its offense is one of the more efficient out there. North Dakota State doesn't take a whole load of shots all considering, its 1,661 field goal attempts was just 266th in the nation, but its 76.4 points per game is good for 46th. North Dakota State is led by a trio of solid seniors and should make some noise in the tournament.

No. 13 New Mexico State Aggies

The Aggies are one of the tougher matchups in the country based off the size of the post-game in Tshilidzi Nephawe and Sim Bhullar. Nephawe stands at a mere 6'10 and Bhullar comes in at 7'5. Add 6'10 Renaldo Dixon into the mix and few teams can challenge the Aggies in the paint. New Mexico State punished other teams in the process. It blocked shots more than all teams except one and attacked the free throw line with a relentless fury. Guard oriented teams can squeak by the Aggies pretty easily (Gonzaga demonstrated this), but they can be a matchup nightmare.

No. 14 Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin Cajuns

The team with the best mascot in the west region is also one of the teams that proves that conference tournaments don't have a place in the NCAA. Or it proves that they do have a place. The Ragin Cajuns were third in the Sun Belt Conference, going 11-7, but charged through the conference tournament to secure the automatic bid. To their credit, it should be an entertaining game. They are one of the highest scoring teams in the nation led by two very explosive players in Elfrid Payton and Shawn Long. Louisiana-Lafayette never really figured out how to stop opposing teams, hence all the losses, but it'll be able to keep up in most shooting gallery matches.

No. 15 American Eagles

The American Eagles ran through the Patriot League tournament in an embarrassing fashion. Drawing a first round matchup against Wisconsin, this is essentially a game to avoid. There are 351 teams in Division I basketball, and 340 of them took more shots than American did. Watching a game by American is like watching paint dry. Watching American play Wisconsin will be like watching paint dry in a pot of boiling water.

No. 16 Weber State Wildcats

Good ‘ol Weber State stumbled through the Big Sky this year and took the automatic bid that no one seemingly wanted to take. Weber State finished 14-6 in conference play in a conference that just flat out wasn't very good this year. The Wildcats are led by senior guard Davion Berry and his 19.1 points per game. The frontcourt of Kyle Tresnak and Joel Bolomboy has some size which should provide a bit of help, but as the No. 16 seed going against the No. 1 seed, history isn't on Weber State's side this year.

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