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How will the west be won? This March, it will be all about beating some of the hottest teams in the country--and we see perhaps the hottest, Arizona, as unbeatable. At least in the regional. Here we'll be taking a look at the West Region. Check out coverage of each region here as well.

I'm here to tell you some teams that I believe in - this should help you make the right tournament bracket decisions. Below I analyze the top four seeds, a potential bust, and a potential final four candidate. Hopefully my college basketball predictions can help you win your March Madness brackets. Now let's get to it.

Editor's Note: Be sure to check out the rest of our NCAA tournament columns and advice. Tournament winners/picks, sleepers, busts and breakdowns of each region.

 

March Madness Picks for the West Region

No. 1 Gonzaga (WCC) vs.No. 16 South Dakota State (Summit League)

Repeat after me: Gonzaga are not a mid-major. Still, for casual college hoops fans, they may be the best team they’ve never seen play heading into the Big Dance. From a playing-time perspective, it’s easy to miss Zach Collins, who averages less than 20 minutes per contest. But he makes the most of his time on the floor, averaging more than 10 PPG, 6 RPG and nearly 2 BPG. The Jackrabbits, meanwhile, are one of those nice March stories—a barely .500 team that gets hot at the end to qualify for the Dance. But nice stories, just like nice guys, finish last, and the Jacks better enjoy Madness while they can, because the Zags take this one. Sophomore forward Mike Daum (25.3 PPG) can score, but he’s never faced an opponent like Gonzaga, and he’s still young, so don’t get blinded by the numbers.

No. 8 Northwestern (Big Ten) vs. No 9 Vanderbilt (SEC)

This one's a toss-up but we'll take Northwestern, simply because the SEC was relatively weak this year. But it will be a tight, low-scoring game, with little fantasy payoff from any of the individual players.

No. 5 Notre Dame (ACC) vs. No. 12 Princeton (Ivy)

Sure, Princeton has pulled off Madness Miracles before, but not this time. Notre Dame forward Bonzie Colson (16+ PPG, 10+ RPG) is one of the best names in college hoops. But we also like Irish point guard Matt Farrell (14+ PPG, 5+ APG). A poor man’s Mark Price.

No. 4 West Virginia (Big 12) vs. No. 13 Bucknell (Patriot)

Defense may win championships (there we go again). Jevon Carter is a stat-sheet filler (points, rebounds, assists and steals), and the kind of player who comes up big in March. We’re torn here, frankly. Bucknell is a solid team (26-8) from a solid league but the match-up against "Press Virginia" just doesn’t favor them. Still, the Bison played teams from the SEC, Ivy and A-10 tough this season. And junior center Nana Foulland (14.9 PPG, 7.8 RPG) will make our all-name team.

No. 6 Maryland (Big Ten) vs. No. 11 Xavier (Big East)

The Terps are twerps. Not really, but we like the Musketeers in the mild upset here, even without their starting point guard. The Musketeers are a quintessential “bubble team,” and they slumped badly after losing point guard Edmond Sumner. Junior Trevon Bluiett (17+ PPG, 5+ RPG) is a nice player, but he may struggle going it alone against quality tournament opposition. They'll win anyway, but it will be tight.

No. 3 Florida State vs. No. 14 FGCU (Atlantic Sun)

The Eagles have been the darlings of tourneys past, but there may not be much of a reason to pick them this season, especially against the Seminoles. Brandon Goodwin is an experienced guard who can score (18.2 PPG), rebound (4.6 RPG) and dish (4.0 APG). Freshman forward Jonathan Isaac is box score filler for the Seminoles. He can score (12+ PPG), rebound (7+), dish it, steal it and block it - although with the caveat that he’s a freshman playing in his first tourney. The Seminoles in a close one.

No. 7 St. Mary’s (WCC) vs. No. 10 VCU (A-10)

As an at-large bid from a two-team conference (Gonzaga being the other thoroughbred in the WCC), the Gaels will have a tough road to advance. But… they have Jock Landale (16+ PPG, 9+ RPG), another member of our all-name team, and point guard Emmett Naar (9+ PPG, 5+ APG) is pretty good, too. VCU is another strong program from an underrated A-10 conference that has been known to upset the postseason applecart. Junior forward Justin Tillman (12+ PPG, 8+ RPG) is a solid frontcourt player. We see VCU winning this one. They have been tested more than the Gaels throughout the season.

No. 2 Arizona (Pac-12) vs. No. 15 North Dakota (Big Sky)

Alonzo Trier missed much of the season with injury, but he’s been one of the hottest players in the country as the season winds down. He’ll be on a mission to prove he’s still a top player, and we like star players on missions. North Dakota is a hockey school, and Arizona is hot.

 

Second Round

Gonzaga over Northwestern.
West Virginia over Notre Dame.
Florida State over Xavier.
Arizona over VCU.

Third Round

West Virginia over Gonzaga.
Arizona over Florida State.

Fourth Round

Arizona over West Virginia.

Final Four

Arizona over Duke.

 

More March Madness Coverage