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NCAA Tournament – West Region Sweet 16 Preview

  • March 25, 2021
  • by admin

Even though all of the games are in Indianapolis, it’s somewhat fitting that three of the four teams in the West Region are actually West Coast teams. Of course, there are also three teams that are like David trying to slay Goliath. Let’s take a look at the four teams left in the West Region.

Gonzaga
Mark Few’s team isn’t taking anything for granted. The Bulldogs hit the ground running during the first weekend of the tournament, dismantling Norfolk State 98-55 and cruising past Oklahoma 87-71. Despite a sluggish start against the Sooners, it didn’t take long for Gonzaga to get on track, moving the Bulldogs to 28-0 on the season.

There’s been nothing to suggest that Gonzaga isn’t still the favorite to win it all. All of the ingredients of a championship team are there. The backcourt is outstanding with Jalen Suggs and Joel Ayayi. Big man Drew Timme has been at his best since the tournament started, pouring in 30 points against Oklahoma to go with his 13 rebounds. In fact, leading scorer Corey Kispert is almost getting lost in the shuffle because of how loaded the Bulldogs are at the moment.

Creighton
If you saw the Bluejays in the Big East Tournament final, you probably had them losing their first game. But Creighton survived a scare from UC-Santa Barbara and then got things rolling in the Round of 32 against Ohio. That poor showing in the Big East final and the controversy surrounding head coach Greg McDermott appear to be behind the Bluejays.

Of course, the program hasn’t been to the Sweet 16 since 1974 and the Bluejays have never been to the Final Four, so this is uncharted territory. The good news is that Creighton has a steady and reliable point guard in Marcus Zegarowski, who has helped keep the team together through the turmoil. The Bluejays also have five players who average at least 10 points per game. But the Creighton offense will have to be at its peak if the Bluejays are going to survive another weekend, which means Denzel Mahoney and Mitch Ballock have to knock down perimeter shots.

USC
The Trojans had plenty of skeptics coming into the tournament, but they’ve proven themselves over the first two games. Playing Drake could have been a tricky game, but USC was outstanding defensively in a 72-56 win. It was more of the same in the Round of 32 when the Trojans dismantled a Kansas team that had appeared to find its stride late in the season. After an 85-51 win over the Jayhawks, the sky is the limit for Andy Enfield’s team.

Thus far, it’s been all about the Mobley brothers. Freshman Evan will be a lottery pick and has looked the part through two games. But older brother Isaiah has also shined, averaging 16 points per game over two tournament games despite averaging just 9.5 points per game on the season. Point guard play remains a concern, but the Mobley brothers are helping to make up for that while Tahj Eaddy gives the Trojans another high-volume scorer.

Oregon
Nobody had a more unusual weekend than the Ducks did. They didn’t have to play in the First Round because VCU had a positive COVID test. Despite the extended layoff, Oregon was anything but rusty in the Round of 32 against Iowa. The Ducks were flying from the start, scoring 95 points against the Hawkeyes to knock off one of the tournament favorites and reach their fourth Sweet 16 since 2016.

Based on Oregon’s play down the stretch, the win over Iowa is far from a fluke. The Ducks have five players who average double figures, including point guard Will Richardson, whose return in early February has transformed Oregon into a juggernaut. Chris Duarte remains the team’s best scorer, averaging 17 points per game and dropping 23 points on Iowa. But Richardson makes the Oregon offense a well-oiled machine that just outscored one of the most potent offensive teams in the country.

Check out BetQL this weekend if you are going to be betting to get the top consensus picks for every Sweet Sixteen game and you can find out which side the public is favoring for every game.

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