Seed outlook: Gonzaga is the best club in the West by a considerable margin, but the Zags, despite reaching haven’t always performed well beneath the glowing lights of the championship. However, Gonzaga has a 70 percent probability of reaching the Elite Eight, based on our model, as well as the third-best chances of any team to accomplish the national championship match (26 percent).
Should Gonzaga face Syracuse in the next round, the zone defense of the Orange will give the Bulldogs trouble. Here is the very best crime Mark Few has had in Spokane, but it could possibly be analyzed by any of the terrific defenses from the West: Four of the best 15 can be found in this region, including the best two at Texas Tech and Michigan.
Sneaky Final Four select: No. 4 Florida State. A fixture at the KenPom Top 20 for the majority of the season, the Seminoles are hoping to build on last season’s championship run, which saw them come within a 4-point margin of creating the Final Four. FSU has a dominant defense (No. 9 in Pomeroy’s ratings) and a balanced roster that saw four players collect at least 2.5 win stocks. This draw isn’t terrible, either: Vermont is not especially tough as a first-round foe, and Marquette is quite beatable (more on this below). No. 1 seeded Gonzaga probably looms then, and we give FSU a 24 percent chance against the Zags — but the Seminoles could have a 48 percent probability of making the Final Four if they were to pull off the upset.
Don’t wager on: No. 5 Marquette. Teams seeded fifth aren’t usually good bets to make it past the Sweet 16 anyhow, but Marquette could be an especially bad choice. According to the FiveThirtyEight energy ratings, the Golden Eagles are by far the worst No. 5 seed in the area, and also a first-round date using breakout mid-major celebrity Ja Morant didn’t do them any favors. Marquette has some star power of its own in junior guard Markus Howard, who ranks sixth in the country with an average of 25 points per game, but this team dropped five of its last six games and has a challenging tournament road ahead of it.
Cinderella watch: No. 10 Florida. They are poised to do some damage today they are here, although the Gators may have been among the last bubble teams to creep into the area of 68. They brought Nevada, a so-so No. 7 seed, at the very first round, and also we provide Florida a 42 percent chance of pulling the upset there. Last year’s national runner-up, Michigan, likely waits in Round two, and that’s a tough matchup (23 percent odds of Florida) — however if the Gators win, then they’ve a 38 percent likelihood of making the Elite Eight. In a region with quite a few good-but-flawed possibilities, Florida looks better than the.
Player to watch: Gonzaga, Brandon Clarke The linchpin of the Zags is not the consensus lottery selection, nor the two veteran guards who have started 87 percent of the games of Gonzaga over the previous two seasons. It’s a move from San Jose State who’s in his first season with the group, Brandon Clarke. He is perhaps the most underappreciated player in the nation.
On a group that comes with a 7-footer shielding the rim, it’s Clarke. Clarke has reacted by placing a single-season blocks record and posting the highest block rate of any team under Couple.
“Should I feel like when I could find a great, fast jump , I will pretty much jump with anybody,” Clarke told me. “I mean, I have seen Zion (Williamson) coming down through the lane before on TV, and when I can’t jump at the right time, I likely would not jump with him, but… I don’t actually see myself not leaping with anyone.”
Likeliest first-round upsets: No. 9 Baylor over No. 8 Syracuse (48 percent); No. 10 Florida over No. 7 Nevada (42 percent); No. 12 Murray State over No. 5 Marquette (32 percent)
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