Kansas sits atop the West Region, but who are the biggest threats to the Jayhawks? And which low seeds could steal an early upset?
FanDuel Sports SPECIAL OFFER
The highlight of the March Madness West Region bracket, for most bettors, is the fact that the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight games will be played in Las Vegas!
But any hoops fan has to be excited for the possibilities in this region, featuring defending national champion Kansas and some intriguing contenders.
March Madness West Region Bracket Preview
The West Region Favorite
Kansas has what it takes, winning the NCAA title just one year ago. But only two starters return from that team, so the Jayhawks will need to tinker with their formula.
The team got good news Sunday, when coach Bill Self left the hospital after a health scare during the Big 12 Tournament. Self will reportedly be available to coach throughout the Tournament.
No one faced a harder schedule than Kansas this season, going through the loaded Big 12 Conference. An astounding 21 games against Quad 1 (think: top 40) opponents have this team plenty battle tested for March.
The West Region Contenders
The Bruins fell just short in the PAC 12 Tournament against Arizona. But, more importantly, they lost defensive specialist Jalen Clark to an injury.
There’s more where that came from, as you won’t find a better pair of guards than the Bruins’ Jaime Jaquez and Tyger Campbell. Dynamic freshman Amari Bailey could be an X-factor, but health is the biggest concern.
They shoot the ball well (like most years) and light up the scoreboard on three pointers. Another strong 1-2 punch of Drew Timme and Julian Strawther leads theBulldogs, winners of nine consecutive games.
If both teams get through the first weekend, a Sweet 16 matchup with UCLA would represent a rematch from the 2021 Final Four. This was one of the best March Madness games in recent history.
BetMGM Sports SPECIAL OFFER
If you believe in “threes and dunks,” they’re the team for you. UConn shoots an overwhelming percentage of their shots from very close – or very deep.
After opening the season 14-0, they survived a midseason slump behind a powerful inside game led by Adama Sango and 7-foot-2 Donovan Clingan. Jordan Hawkins made almost three 3-pointers per game this season, and his 87% mark from the foul line will be critical as UConn looks to close out games.
The West Region’s Cinderella Team
the No. 13 seed, gets UConn first. But the Gaels have coaching (legendary Rick Pitino, who’s no stranger to Big East powerhouse teams this time of year). They have scoring (leading the MAAC in field-goal percentage and overall scoring). And they have size (second nationally in blocked shots.)
UConn can’t afford to take their time getting used to the Tournament against this group.
West Region’s Best First-Round Game
No. 5 Saint Mary’s vs. No. 12 VCU: All year, we hear about mid-sized conference teams who can do damage in the Tournament.
This game matches up a pair of such teams, and to an extent they’re mirror images. If you like defense, this is the game for you. Saint Mary’s top-10 unit matches up against VCU, who owns a top-15 pedigree in steals per game and turnover margin.
March Madness West Region Predictions
The committee didn’t do Kansas any favors with this group, as UCLA, Gonzaga, and Connecticut are storied programs with a history of March success.
If the Jayhawks can get through the first weekend healthy with the return of Coach Self, they’re still the team to beat. But UCLA/Gonzaga could be the game of the Tournament if it happens in the Sweet 16. This is the same spot that UConn could loom as the Jayhawks’ biggest challenge.
March Madness West Region Pick
March Madness West Region Odds
Here are the odds for each team to win the West Region, along with their National Championship odds (all odds from FanDuel):
|TEAM||TO WIN WEST REGION||TO WIN NATIONAL TITLE|
|Virginia Commonwealth (VCU)||+8000||+30000|