The West region is another region where mayhem is more likelier than not. Arizona and Gonzaga are the lone teams with regular season or conference titles this season among top-tier teams in the region. There are several weak spots in many teams, including the ones at the top.

Here’s the breakdown for the West region.

Best Bets

Bucknell vs. West Virginia (-13.5)

The narrative is now that West Virginia can’t score and shouldn’t be trusted in the NCAA tournament. The Mountaineers aren’t a prolific scoring team, but that press is elite. And while I don’t care for Bob Huggins in the NCAA tournament, West Virginia was consistently good in one of the best conferences in the nation during the regular season. That doesn’t happen by accident and the speed that West Virginia will play should be enough to escape with a big victory. — Go Against The Chalk with West Virginia

Xavier (+2) vs. Maryland

Melo Trimble is one of the best players in the NCAA tournament. However, the Terrapins are so inconsistent, that I can’t count on him or anyone else for that matter to deliver in the first round. Xavier played in a far superior conference and is the tougher team. Tough teams move on in the tournament. That’s why you should moneyline Xavier. — Go Against The Chalk with Xavier

VCU (+4.5) vs. St. Mary’s

VCU is one of my main sleepers for the tournament. The team is full of seniors and still employs that havoc defense that was so successful a few years ago. St. Mary’s hasn’t played anyone other than Gonzaga and got hammered in those meetings. VCU has the ability to make some noise even beyond the first round. — Go Against The Chalk with VCU

Florida Gulf Coast vs. Florida State (-12.5)

Everyone is picking Florida Gulf Coast. That gives me pause in supporting the former NCAA tournament darling. The Seminoles are being undervalued, much like the Mountaineers. They’re athletic and far more talented than Florida Gulf Coast. The Seminoles are good on both ends and should have no difficulty scoring in this contest. That should give them enough cushion to cover the more than 12 points. — Go Chalk with Florida State

Ranking the Double-Digit seeds

  1. No. 10 VCU — A bunch of seniors. Past experience doing well in the NCAA tournament. And a defense that creates problems. VCU has the recipe for making some noise in this tournament, so be careful with penciling in Arizona to the Elite Eight.
  2. No. 11 Xavier — I don’t necessarily believe Xavier is one of the best teams in the tournament. But I do like their draw. Maryland is wildly inconsistent, while Florida State doesn’t necessarily strike too much fear in me. That should give Xavier plenty of opportunities to move on to the second weekend.
  3. No. 12 Princeton — We’ve seen the Ivy League make noise before. Princeton has the ability to do that, too. I don’t really love their first-round matchup, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Princeton will be playing in the Sweet 16.
  4. No. 14 Florida Gulf Coast — Dunk City is back. And everyone is believing they can repeat their performance from a few years ago. I don’t buy it, but they’re playing in Florida and if they can beat Florida State, there’s a chance for them to see the second weekend.
  5. No. 13 Bucknell — Here’s another team with a major upset in their past. Bucknell isn’t as good as that team, but if West Virginia can’t score, then the Bison may be on a repeat path of beating a Big 12 team in the first round.
  6. No. 15 North Dakota — They won the regular season and conference title, so winning hasn’t been an issue. The problem is the matchup. Arizona is really good and won’t get beat.
  7. No. 16 South Dakota State — Another one from the Dakotas and another difficult matchup. Gonzaga is used to playing teams like this and they dominate. That won’t be any different this time around.

Final Four Lock

Sweet 16 — No. 1 Gonzaga vs. No. 5 Notre Dame — I want to take Gonzaga in this matchup, but I just trust Notre Dame’s experience more than the Bulldogs. Notre Dame has enough on offense to keep up with Gonzaga and will win a close one.

Sweet 16 — No. 6 Xavier vs. No. 10 VCU — This is a big out there pick, but I’m a big fan of VCU’s ability to play defense and create matchup problems.

Elite Eight — No. 5 Notre Dame vs. No. 10 VCU — The Cinderella story ends for the Rams with Notre Dame finally getting to the Final Four.

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