The West Region has a pretty interesting composition. Gonzaga was an easy choice for the #1 seed but the bracket also has two of the teams that Gonzaga lost to during the season in Duke and Alabama. Texas Tech, who the Zags beat months ago, is also in the bracket. I am not sure if that familiarity is a good or bad thing for a Gonzaga team that could definitely win its first title this season.
The West also has one of my favorite sleepers in Arkansas. The Razorbacks were ousted in the SEC Tournament by Texas A&M, but prior to that they were one of the hottest teams in America. Coach Eric Musselman has proven he can get the most out of his guys this time of year.
And then there is Memphis…maybe the biggest wild card in this whole event! (Good luck forecasting what those guys are going to do).
Here are the games in the West that look like the best values right now.
West Bracket Best Bets
#4 Arkansas Razorbacks vs. #13 Vermont Catamounts
Vermont is often the representative from the America East Conference and it dominated the conference tourney this season. Vermont is an efficient offensive team but the Razorbacks are just too much for the Catamounts, physically and talent-wise, this season.
Vermont’s best win was in the first game of the season against Northern Iowa. They played 2 power conference teams (Maryland and Providence) and never got closer than 10 points. Maybe the neutral site gives them a slight boost, but I don’t think the Razorbacks are going to overlook them in this game.
Once Arkansas finds a rhythm it should dominate and win by double digits. Ryan Davis is a very effective big man in the America East but he is going to find it very tough against Jaylin Williams of the Razorbacks. If the Catamounts can’t win that matchup they are going to find it very hard to stay in this one.
#7 Michigan State Spartans vs. #10 Davidson Wildcats
If you are not impressed with a team during the season, that shouldn’t really change just because they qualify for the NCAA Tournament. Michigan State is a team I have faded in lots of spots this year. The Spartans just don’t have the talent you think they do and they closed the Big Ten season on a 3-7 run.
They did win a couple of games in the league tournament but that is not enough to get me excited about them against Davidson, one of the best shooting teams in the country. The Wildcats won the regular season A10 title but fell to a desperate Richmond team in the conference tourney. The Wildcats have good positional size and you have to think there is some advantage to the fact that Foster Loyer was with MSU last season. That is not going to be why they upset Sparty, but it going to be a story so get used to hearing about it. It’s that time of year.
#2 Duke Blue Devils vs. #15 Cal State Fullerton Titans
Blue Devils -17
Whether Duke gets a rematch with Gonzaga remains to be seen but it should have an easy time in the first-round game against Fullerton. This Blue Devils team is loaded and even though their experience level could be better, it is not going to matter in this game. They can keep things simple and just dominate inside with Paolo Banchero and Mark Williams, both of who will look massive next to their counterparts. Maybe the shooting is a little off early but the offensive rebounding game has been strong all season and makes it easier for the Blue Devils to put up the number of points they need to cover a number this big. It is just too much to ask the Titans to even keep this one close so play the chalk here.