After two weeks of exciting conference tournament action, the 2021 NCAA Tournament is set to tip-off on Thursday with four First Four games. The Round of 64 will begin on Friday with the first West region game starting at 1:15 p.m. ET on Saturday. And quite frankly, this region is not as loaded as the other three. The No. 1 Gonzaga Bulldogs have an easy road to the Final Four, but as we all know things can change at a drop of the dime in The Big Dance.
For this region and the other three in the tournament, we’ll take a look at games where we could see upsets, teams you should fade, and ultimately who will reach the Final Four on April 3rd.
Which games are ripe for an upset
Looking at this bracket, there aren’t that many appealing games on paper. But as of right now, many analysts and college basketball writers like the No. 13 seed Ohio Bobcats to upset the No. 4 seed Virginia Cavaliers.
We’ll discuss that below, but there are a couple games that we should keep an eye out for. The first game is No. 12 seed UC-Santa Barbara vs. No. 5 seed Creighton. The last time we saw the Bluejays on the court, they got humiliated by Georgetown in the Big East Championship Game. That game was more of an anomaly, as Creighton was one of the better teams in the league all season.
CU faces a UCSB squad with four players scoring in double figures and shooting over 35 percent from three-point range. This season the Jays are only holding teams to just 32.1 percent shooting from three-point range.
Another game to watch out for is No. 15 seed Grand Canyon vs. No. 2 Iowa, which would be a shocking loss for the Hawkeyes. The Antelopes have a good center in Asbjorn Midtgaard, who is averaging 14.0 points and 9.9 rebounds per game. He will be matched up with Luka Garza, which is not an easy task, but Garza isn’t exactly a defensive stopper and we’re being generous. The Hawkeyes played much better down the stretch, but have had puzzling moments this season.
Potentially popular picks to fade
A popular pick to potentially fade is the No. 13 seed Ohio Bobcats defeating the No. 4 seed Virginia Cavaliers. Granted, it would not be the first time nor the last that we’ve seen a No. 13 seed upset a No. 4 seed. But this pick of the Ohio Bobcats seems trendy on the same lines as Winthrop.
When college basketball analysts and writers bring up Ohio, they only mention guard Jason Preston, who is a dynamic scorer and player. The junior guard is averaging 16.6 points, 7.2 assists, and 6.8 rebounds per game. He’s also shooting 53 percent from the field and 40.8 percent from three-point range. They also don’t tell you that the Bobcats have four other players scoring in double-figures.
That mixture of talent could give Virginia problems that had to bow out of the ACC tourney due to COVID-19. No one knows what Cavs team we will see, but we also shouldn’t discount what they’ve done this season.
Who will reach the Final Four
Unlike the other three other regions, where it was tough to pick a Final Four representative, the West region is easy. The Gonzaga Bulldogs will be in the Final Four and etch their name in the history books. They are a tremendous team on both ends of the floor and can score points in a blink of an eye.
Despite playing in the WCC, they’ve faced some tough competition out of conference in the Iowa Hawkeyes, West Virginia Mountaineers, Virginia Cavaliers, and Kansas Jayhawks. The Zags also have a tremendous trio of scorers in Corey Krispert, Drew Timme, and Jalen Suggs that can dominate stretches of games.