SAN FRANCISCO — The West Region in the 2022 NCAA Tournament is arguably the most stacked of the four regions in terms of the team at the top.
The 1 through 6 seeds in the West are all proven teams that really could beat anybody. They include the top overall seed in Gonzaga, 2-seed Duke, 3-seed Texas Tech, 4-seed Arkansas, 5-seed UConn and 6-seed Alabama.
Alabama may be the 6-seed in this region, but they’ve also defeated both Gonzaga, Baylor, Tennessee and Houston this year, proving they can go toe to toe with the best in the nation.
Texas Tech is the third seed in this region, but they do have the No. 1 defense in the country. Gonzaga, meanwhile, has the No. 1 offense in the country.
LOCKED ON BRACKET BREAKDOWN SHOW: Catch the full bracket breakdown from the Locked On Podcast Network to help you preview the tournament and fill out your bracket
Duke is always a strong team and they’ve been great this season, albeit a bit inconsistent down the stretch. Of course, this is Coach K’s final season, so that narrative could play for extra motivation.
Arkansas is another team with the Final Four on it’s mind. The Razorbacks had a stretch from mid-January to early March when they went 14-1 in SEC play, beating both Auburn and Tennessee. They have one of the nation’s best scorers in J.D. Notae and a talent dual-threat big man in Jaylin Williams.
West Region First Round Matchups
No. 1 seed Gonzaga vs. No. 16 seed Georgia State (Thursday)
No. 8 seed Boise State vs. No. 9 seed Memphis (Thursday)
No. 5 seed UConn vs. No. 12 seed New Mexico State (Thursday)
No. 4 seed Arkansas vs. No. 13 seed Vermont (Thursday)
No. 6 seed Alabama vs. No. 11 seed Rutgers/Notre Dame (Friday)
No. 3 seed Texas Tech vs. No. 14 seed Montana State (Friday)
No. 7 seed Michigan State vs. No. 10 seed Davidson (Friday)
No. 2 seed Duke vs. No. 15 seed Cal State Fullerton (Friday)
Pretty much every NCAA Tournament game there’s a possibility for an upset, but let’s look at a few games where upset will be on the mind of many filling out a bracket.
No. 13 Vermont vs. No. 4 Arkansas
The 13 vs. 4 matchup is always an intriguing one for possible upsets. Vermont has been getting a lot of buzz lately as a team with upset potential. Vermont ranks 59th on KenPom, pretty good for a 13-seed. They ranks first nationally in defensive rebounding percentage (81.3 percent), third in effective field goal percentage (57.3 percent) and they don’t turn the ball over. Arkansas could have their hands full in the first round again.
No. 7 seed Michigan State vs. No. 10 seed Davidson
Ever since Steph Curry, Davidson is always looked at as a potential Cinderella. Davidson ranks 11th in the country in offensive efficiency and they could give the Spartans trouble if Michigan State can’t keep up the scoring. Davidson’s leading scorer Foster Loyer will face his old team after transferring from the Spartans after three seasons, so there could be some motivation there on both sides. This will be a good game.
Elite Eight predictions
On the Locked On Bracket Breakdown show, our three experts have the following teams advancing to the Elite Eight in this region, the national quarterfinals. All three had Texas Tech advancing past Duke to get to the Elite Eight.