Selection Sunday is behind us and we now know all of the possible matchups coming out of the West region of the 2022 NCAA Tournament. The No. 1 overall seed Gonzaga headlines the region with Duke, Texas Tech and Arkansas rounding out the top-four seeds. There are a lot of exciting possibilities with this region starting with the first round.
Which games are ripe for an upset
A No. 9 seed over a No. 8 seed isn’t much of an upset but look for the Memphis and Boise State game in the first round to be an exciting one. Freshman center Jalen Duren led the Tigers in scoring in the AAC championship game with 14 points. He added 10 boards to complete his second double-double of the conference tournament. He had 20 rebounds and 21 points against UCF in the first round, and the Broncos are going to have a tough time defending him.
The Aggies of No. 12 New Mexico State are going to have upset on their minds in the first-round as they take on No. 5 UConn, and are well-rounded enough to make it a close game. Senior guard Clayton Henry averaged only 5.0 points and 3.3 rebounds per game in the regular season. But in the WAC tournament final he had 15 points and eight rebounds to lead the Aggies in both categories. This team digs deep and has a scrappiness you look for in the NCAA Tournament.
No. 13 Vermont has won 22 of their last 23 games. No. 4 Arkansas was a pleasant surprise in the SEC, but they can’t afford to look past the Catamounts. Feel free to claim that they didn’t play anybody, but they rolled in the America East conference tournament winning by an average of 36 points across three games. They have the momentum and if the Razorbacks start slow, Vermont can come away with an upset.
Potentially popular picks to fade
I know that it is Coach K’s last season with Duke, but this team is running out of steam. You could tell in the ACC Championship game against Virginia Tech. Historically, Duke is often the victim of an early upset in the tournament. I think they make it past CS Fullerton, but they will run into trouble with Davidson and/or Michigan State in the second round. At the very least, Duke might not make it out of the Sweet 16.
Who will reach the Final Four
All signs are pointing to Gonzaga in this region. They were clearly the best team in the regular season and that rolled over into the WCC tournament that they won. Gonzaga leads the NCAA Division 1 teams in points per game (87.8), field goal percentage (52.7) and point differential (+22.4). Not to be known as only an offensive powerhouse, they also ranked tied for third in rebounds per game (41.5) and blocks per game (5.9).
They are the only team in the entire field to be favored to reach the Final Four with -140 odds at DraftKings Sportsbook.