This might be one of the strongest regions in the entire field as a good amount of these teams could easily make a run for a National Championship. This also could be the absolute most competitive, but the team everyone will be gunning for will be Gonzaga. With that being said, let’s look at each side.
- Texas Tech
- Florida State
- Arizona State
- Murray State
- Northern Kentucky
- Fairleigh Dickinson
These guys are super good. They defend extremely well, are fast, and score a lot of points. This also the year where they think they can actually win the National Championship as they boast a lot of good talent here. Rui Hachimura, Brandon Clarke, Zach Norvell Jr, and Josh Perkins make up a good core that make them so formidable that they may actually go all the way.
Michigan was so close to winning the National Championship last year that they will be undoubtedly hungry to win it this year. But they do boast a lot of talent like Jordan Poole and Ignas Brazdeikis. This team is extremely good at defending as they rank third in the nation and do have a potent offense, though are very inconsistent. This should be a team that could make a big run at the National Championship,
They lost a good chunk of their team from last year, but this team might be even better. They boast possibly the best player in the Big-12 in Jarrett Culver and it could help that he has a cast that supports his play. Texas Tech also has one of the best defenses in the nation, which should help them make a deep run.
Florida State is another dark horse team to make a run at the National Championship as they almost won the ACC Tournament, but they still are a formidable team. They have a lot of weapons, but one of the most incredible things that Florida State does is utilize it’s bench as their top scorer Mfiondu Kabengele never started any game this season.
Marquette had played in a very tough Big Ten and came out with a 5 seed, which is remarkable because of how cluttered that conference was in quality. Marquette was even thought of as a top ten team, but their flaws were exposed as they seemingly rely on one player for their offense as Markus Howard remarkably scores points with relative ease.
After last year’s success, they have become a force and look to make a deep run in the tournament. One of their top players is CJ Massinburg, but one of the main reasons they they are so good is that they have a deep bench. Having a deep bench should help anyone do matchup well, and Buffalo has that.
This team is returning all the players they had on their roster from last year so they definitely have lots of experience. Nevada played a really well for most of the season before falling off, but they are not to be taken lightly. They have a lot of size that could help them make a run. Their top player is Caleb Martin.
This is another squad to not take lightly as they have a zone defense that helped keep up with teams in a very good ACC. Syracuse is a talented side, but they boast very good player in Tyus Battle who is the main source of their offense. They will need him to be healthy if they want any chance of going deep in this tournament, but their defense should keep them in games.
Baylor literally had to transform it’s offense in the middle of the season after losing one of their big men, so they had to make it a guard oriented offense. It seems to work as they are the 9 seed in the tournament. One of their key players is Makai Mason, but health has been a concern for him.
Florida played the best it could in a very tough SEC, but it is remarkable that they made it into the tournament with the resume they have. They have a very stingy defense, however that will have to make up for a languishing offense as they cannot shoot the ball very well. One of their key players is KeVaughn Allen.
Arizona State is coming off a victory in the First Four against a talented St. John’s side, but Arizona State was more than deserving to get into the tournament as they play a great style of basketball. They score lots of points and they play a very tough brand of defense, plus they can out-rebound seemingly every team on the planet. The team is led by Luguentz Dort as he was the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year.
Murray State is not a team to take lightly and have a great chance of making a deep run in the tournament. One of the things that makes them great is how potent their offense is as they boast one of the best players in College Basketball in Ja Morant. This is one team that most people should be on the look for.
Vermont must feel like they are disrespected as they have a very exciting brand of basketball and got a very low seed. They are a very tough defensive team, but they also can score a lot of points. Even against a Florida State team in the first round, they should feel pretty confident. One of their key players is Anthony Lamb who scores 21.4 points per game.
Northern Kentucky is making it’s second ever appearance at the tournament, but this time around, they have a higher seed and a better chance to make a run. They do have to face a good Texas Tech team in the first round, but with the amount of offense they put up, they should keep it tight. One of their key players will be Drew McDonald.
Montana is back in the tournament once again, but this time they might actually make a run in this tournament. If Michigan’s offense stagnates, then Montana actually will have a fighting chance as they shoot the ball a lot and score a lot. They should actually match up well with Michigan in the first round and could potentially upset. A key player of their’s is Ahmaad Rorie.
And finally, Fairleigh Dickinson, who defeated Prairie View A&M in the First Four round, will be the last team to cover. They are a fairly interesting squad as they turn the ball over a lot, but then they are one of the top teams in the nations at getting steals. Oh and they shoot well beyond the arc, as that will be something Gonzaga will have to eliminate if they want to not make this a close game.
So this really might be the strongest region of the entire field and looks to be the most interesting too as there are some teams that are not only good enough to make a deep run, were good enough to even a championship. It’s going to be a blood bath to watch.