Gonzaga gets the one seed out west, but with Arizona looming along with teams like Florida State and West Virginia, it could be tough sledding for the Zags to get to Phoenix. Here’s my take on the West.
VCU: The Rams have maintained status as a solid program since Shaka Smart left for Texas. Coach Will Wade has done a really good job. I like this team’s toughness led by big man Moe Alli-Cox. St. Mary’s is a tough matchup because the Gaels run really good offense, but VCU has a lot of tournament experience.
Vanderbilt: They have the sweep of Florida and wins over Iowa State and Arkansas. Vandy also lost to Middle Tennessee State (by 23), Marquette (by 24), and Missouri as well. I have no problems with them being in the draw, but as a 9 seed not quite so sure they are that high.
Best First Round Game: Florida State vs Florida Gulf Coast. I am going a bit off the radar here, but I believe if there is a three seed who could go down in round 1, Florida State might be it. No knock on the Seminoles, but I don’t think they are as great defensively as in recent seasons. FGCU will NOT be intimidated by the NOLES’ athleticism, they played Baylor tough who I believe is just as athletic as FSU and they were “hosed” at Michigan State on a bad call late in the game. The name Florida State won’t faze them. Orlando will be “LIT” Friday night for this in-state matchup.
Player to Watch: Melo Trimble, Maryland. The Terps are not being talked about a bunch coming into this tournament, and that may not be a bad thing. Last year, the Terps were very talented, but not connected as a team and Trimble got a lot of “flack” for that. This year, he has really matured and has lead this team of young freshmen to a 24-win season. Maryland’s draw is favorable for another Sweet 16 run.
Player to Watch: Allonzo Trier, Arizona. When Trier came back into the lineup mid-season, the Wildcats became a different team. His aggressive nature provided more scoring for Arizona. Now, Zona’ is a real threat to win the national championship because of Trier.
Possible Upsets: Florida Gulf Coast over Florida State, Xavier over Maryland is another possiblity.