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Who are the dark horses and sleepers in West Region of 2023 March Madness?

We take a look at who might emerge from the lower part of the bracket in the West Region on the way to the Final Four.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: FEB 15 VCU at Rhode Island Photo by Erica Denhoff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The First Round of the 2023 NCAA Tournament begins on Thursday, March 16 with the games starting at noon and lasting all day. Talk about college basketball bliss! Ahead of then, we’ll break down which teams have a shot at winning the West Region, including one sleeper and a darkhorse pick.

March Madness 2023: West Region

Sleeper: Arkansas

Arkansas checks in as the No. 8 seed in the West Region. If the Razorbacks beat Illinois in the first round, then they’ll likely face No. 1 seed Kansas in the second round. Arkansas would give the reigning champs a thorough fight if that’s the case.

Let’s remember that the Razorbacks were ranked No. 10 coming into the season. They were challenged by a difficult schedule, but Arkansas earned some key victories over Texas A&M and San Diego State while losing to No. 1 overall seed Alabama by three points on the road towards the end of the season. The Hogs have enough talent to make a surprising run in the West Region.

Darkhorse: VCU

The VCU Rams are playing excellent basketball at the moment, as they rolled through the Atlantic 10 Tournament to earn a spot in the Big Dance. VCU gets the job done on the defensive side, ranking 17th in adjusted team defensive efficiency per The Rams love to force turnovers as well, ranking sixth in opponent turnover rate this season.

The Rams have a tough draw in the West Region, going up against No. 5 St. Mary’s in the first round. No. 4 UConn and No. 1 Kansas are on that side of the bracket as well. However, VCU is playing great basketball with nine straight wins heading into the tournament. The Rams are a gritty, defensive-minded bunch — a style that tends to translate well in tournament play. Their offense has come alive over the last month as well, making them a dark-horse threat to push for a Final Four appearance.