West Region Predictions
The West Region of the NCAA Tournament features a lot of contenders to reach the Final Four. Which team will find itself moving on to San Antonio?
According to oddsmakers at YouWager, North Carolina is the favorite in the region, as the Tar Heels are getting odds of +275 to win. Other short odds to win are Gonzaga (+300), Xavier (+450) and Michigan (+500).
The Favorite: 1202 North Carolina +275
The Tar Heels are the second seed in the region after posting a 25-10 record this season. Consistency hasn’t been something UNC has had a lot of. The Tar Heels have just one 6-game win streak this season and they also have been upset quite a few times, including a loss at home to Wofford. The Tar Heels certainly have plenty of talent, but they just haven’t managed to put it all together for a sustained period of time.
The Dark Horse: 1201 Michigan +500
It’s somewhat difficult to call Michigan a dark horse, but the Wolverines are fourth in terms of short odds in this region. The third-seeded Wolverines are peaking right now, winning the Big Ten Tournament with victories over Purdue and Michigan State along the way. Michigan didn’t look like a NCAA Tournament team at times this year, but John Beilein has his team ready to go. Michigan’s defense is going to be a problem for most teams and the Wolverines are gaining confidence on offense. They have a nothing-to-lose attitude that can go a long way in March.
Stay Away: 1203 Xavier +450
Of all the No. 1 seeds, Xavier is the team that I feel the least confident in. The Musketeers have had a great season, no question. However, the program doesn’t have a pedigree of great success in the NCAA Tournament. Xavier has yet to reach the Final Four and now finds itself in one of the toughest regions in the tournament. Xavier lost twice to Villanova by double digits and has only one win over a strong team this year (Cincinnati). I don’t think Xavier is good enough for the 1 seed and will get exposed before the end of next weekend.
West Region Prediction
I think Gonzaga may be the team to beat in this region. The Bulldogs gained a lot from their run to the final last season and this year’s team has been very strong. The West Coast Conference didn’t get much respect, with Saint Mary’s being left out of the dance, and I think that will provide an added chip on Gonzaga’s shoulder. The Bulldogs are on an 11-game win streak and have a path that’s very reasonable to navigate to the Elite Eight. Gonzaga can avoid UNC and Michigan until then and I think it can win a head-to-head with either team, as well as Xavier and Ohio State.
WEST REGION PREDICTIONS: GONZAGA +300