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March Madness 2022: West Region by the Numbers

Are the teams in Gonzaga’s region appropriately seeded?

NCAA Basketball: Gonzaga at Texas Tech Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Gonzaga Bulldogs are the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament and will face off against the Georgia State Panthers in the first round. After that, it is going to be all sorts of chaos. In trying to take a look at the West Region of the NCAA Tournament, let’s see all of the potential opponents, and figure out who is seeded too high, too low, and just right.

No. 1 Gonzaga Bulldogs

  • KenPom: 1
  • NET: 1
  • Analysis: Just Right

No arguments here. Gonzaga is the top team in the country via the metrics, enters the NCAA Tournament with 10 Quadrant 1 wins, and is appropriate placed as the top overall seed.

No. 2 Duke Blue Devils

  • KenPom: 12
  • NET: 13
  • Analysis: Too High

The immediate reaction, especially considering Tennessee ended up as a No. 3 seed, is that the Selection Committee gave Coach K his best chance at going out on top. Even considering the snake format of the seeding, and the No. 2 seed in the No. 1 overall region being the worst of the two-seeds, Duke sneaked in by the metrics. Considering that the ACC was historically weak this year, and that Duke finished the season on a loss (twice), it is interesting that they landed here.

No. 3 Texas Tech Red Raiders

  • KenPom: 9
  • NET: 9
  • Analysis: Just Right

Texas Tech, the second of three Gonzaga opponents on the other side of the region, owns the nations top defense, but has an offense that struggles at time. That said, by the numbers, Texas Tech is pretty clearly set as a No. 3 seed. With eight Quad 1 wins, they have two more than Duke did, so there might be a chip on the shoulder when it comes to that potential matchup.

No. 4 Arkansas Razorbacks

  • KenPom: 20
  • NET: 20
  • Analysis: Too High

A game against Arkansas and Gonzaga would be an absolute delight solely based on tempo. Although the metrics suggest that the Razorbacks probably belong more in the realm of a no. 5 seed, Arkansas finished the season on a pretty strong note after opening conference play 0-3. Their other two regular season conference losses were to Alabama on the road by one point and Tennessee on the road by four.

No. 5 Connecticut Huskies

  • KenPom: 18
  • NET: 16
  • Analysis: Just Right

Although the NET rankings looked a bit more favorably on UConn, their general lack of Quad 1 victories hurt their case to be moved any higher. UConn’s five Quad 1 victories are the fourth-lowest of the NET top 20 team, tied with UCLA and Texas, and only better than Saint Mary’s (4), Iowa (3), and Houston (zero).

No. 6 Alabama Crimson Tide

  • KenPom: 25
  • NET: 30
  • Analysis: Just Right

Honestly, ranking Alabama was always going to be a wacky exercise because this team is has such a wacky profile. The Crimson Tide enter the NCAA Tournament riding a three-game losing streak. But they also own wins over Gonzaga, Houston, Tennessee, and Baylor. They also lost to Iona and Missouri. The Crimson Tide are a feast or famine squad, the most dangerous kind when trying to fill out your bracket.

No. 7 Michigan State Spartans

  • KenPom: 40
  • NET: 36
  • Analysis: Don’t Bet Against Tom Izzo

This year, you actually might be able to bet against Tom Izzo. The Spartans opened conference play 5-0, but that was on the likes of Minnesota, Penn State, and Nebraska. When the quality wins appeared, the Spartans weren’t so hot. Michigan State closed the regular season lost nine of 15 games. A potential second round game against Duke is a tantalizing story, however.

No. 8 Boise State Broncos

  • KenPom: 26
  • NET: 29
  • Analysis: Too Low

Zero respect for Leon Rice and company, who won the Mountain West Conference Tournament on a thrilling 53-52 score over San Diego State. Bolstered by a top 20 defense, there is a legitimate case for the Broncos to be a No. 7 seed, especially considering they own as many Quad 1 wins (6) as the Duke Blue Devils.

No. 9 Memphis Tigers

  • KenPom: 28
  • NET: 31
  • Analysis: Too Low

There has been a lot of negative press circulating the Memphis Tigers this season, and understandably so, considering how much hype they entered the season with, and how much they struggled early on. That was early on, however. Although Houston finally defeated Memphis in the AAC Tournament Championship, after a rough stretch early in conference play, Memphis played fantastically through the second-half-plus of conference play, earning wins over Houston twice. However, the AAC was a bit lacking in power this year, and Memphis only finished with eight combined Quad 1 and 2 wins.

No. 10 Davidson Wildcats

  • KenPom: 41
  • NET: 38
  • Analysis: Just Right

Featuring a very fun offense, the Davidson Wildcats are your perfect sort of double-digit potential bracket buster. They can hang with about anyone and can barely defend them at the same time. The Wildcats lost to USF (CA) early in the season and also defeated Alabama later in December. By their numbers, a No. 10 seed seems the appropriate place.

(Play-in) No. 11 Rutgers Scarlett Knights

  • KenPom: 74
  • NET: 77
  • Analysis: Just Right

When you are looking at the final four teams to make it in, there is a legitimate gripe that can be had from certain fanbases (hello Texas A&M). However, Rutgers did a pretty decent job of surviving a brutal Big 10 schedule. They own six Quad 1 victories, and by virtue of playing in their conference, picked up some sizable wins against the likes of Purdue, Iowa, Ohio State, Illinois, Wisconsin, you get the picture.

(Play-in) No. 11 Notre Dame Fighting Irish

  • KenPom: 52
  • NET: 53
  • Analysis: Just Right

How can two teams with wildly different rankings be on the same seed line and both be “just right”? Easy. Notre Dame plays in the ACC and the ACC was pretty much trash this year. Notre Dame has just two Quad 1 wins, rather embarrassing for any program of a Power 5 conference. The metrics are kind to Notre Dame, but the fact of the matter is this resume is a win over Kentucky and a win over North Carolina, and that is absolutely it.

No. 12 New Mexico State Aggies

  • KenPom: 81
  • NET: 79
  • Analysis: Too High

Clark Kellogg was really excited about New Mexico State during the Selection Show, but this is a pretty thoroughly mediocre team. New Mexico picked up wins over Davidson and Washington State year and owns a pretty solid defense. But in general, the metrics aren’t as high on the Aggies as the committee is.

No. 13 Vermont Catamounts

  • KenPom: 59
  • NET: 52
  • Analysis: Just Right

The metrics are higher on Vermont than the seeding line suggests — so they very well could be the prime sort of bracket buster you are looking for. However, in terms of practicality, there is zero reason the committee could put Vermont any higher, mainly because the Catamounts went just 1-2 in Quad 1 and 2 games. They went 7-2 in Quad 3 and 19-1 (19!!!!) in Quad 4 games. Vermont is the best defensive rebounding team in the country, but that strength of schedule is absolutely brutal.

No. 14 Montana State Bobcats

  • KenPom: 125
  • NET: 120
  • Analysis: Just Right

When you hit the bottom of the bracket, the numbers don’t necessarily match up with the seeding as easily as they do up top. But that is largely because the autobids from all of the mid major conferences need a place to jam. Montana State won the Big Sky Championship (and regular season) to earn their bid.

No. 15 Cal-State Fullerton Titans

  • KenPom: 149
  • NET: 153
  • Analysis: Just Right

See above. Cal-State Fullerton squeaked by Long Beach State to steal the autobid for the Big West Conference. That was their best win of the year and the one that mattered the most

No. 16 Georgia State Panthers

  • KenPom: 151
  • NET: 159
  • Analysis: Too Low

There is a legitimate gripe here from the Panthers, who despite being the highest-ranked No. 16 seed, earned the lowest No. 16 seed by virtue of playing against the top overall seed in the first round.