No. 1 Wisconsin
The committee has put the Badgers an awkward situation. They found themselves on the fringe of a No. 1 seed, and they got it. Wisconsin is led by the one and only Frank Kaminsky. Earlier this year without the superstar, the Badgers were knocked off by Rutgers, a team that finished 2-16 in the Big Ten. Wisconsin will find themselves in a tough situation if Kaminsky was to get injured, or if the “road” factor gets to them. It is safe to say that the Badgers want have the easiest route for fans to travel, but they have to hope they make the trip to a potential game versus Arizona. The Wildcats could make the crowd a factor in an Elite Eight game, which we all know, Wisconsin didn’t play well in tough environments.
No. 2 Arizona
The Wildcats have become a very interesting team to watch in March. They finished the year 31-3 (16-2) with all three losses coming by 4 points or less. They usually found themselves winning by over 10 points, and never losing at home. I feel like this bracket was almost made for Arizona to go to the Final Four. They shouldn’t face a true test until a potential matchup with number one-seeded Wisconsin. Arizona has a pretty clear-cut home court for the West regional. The next closest team to Los Angeles would be either Baylor, or Oregon (You can do the math if you choose).
Cincy on the Prowl
No. 11 Ole Miss
No. 11 Mississippi really showed themselves in their First Four matchup with BYU. The Rebels found themselves facing a 17-point deficit, but they came out firing, adding 62 points in the second half alone. Unfortunately, the committee was not friendly to teams looking to make a Cinderella run. Most teams that pull off an early upset will be bound to play tougher teams every game. No easy runs can be made, but if anyone can pull it off, Mississippi will.
No. 1 Wisconsin vs. No. 2 Arizona
This is the one game that seems inevitable in this region. The only teams that could disrupt this would be Baylor playing Arizona or North Carolina playing Wisconsin in the Sweet 16. This region is the most straight forward in the tournament to me. Arizona looks to be able to run through anyone who stands in their way to the final four. The Badgers have to hope that Frank Kaminsky can carry them in this game, but it doesn’t seem like he will be able to in this one. Arizona is led by a balanced attack of Stanley Johnson and Brandon Ashley. The duo averages 26 ppg and 11 rpg, but is supported by the other three starters, who average almost 10 points per game each. A team is better than a player, and that’s why Arizona will run over Wisconsin.
Players to Watch:
Frank Kaminsky (Wisconsin)
The Big Ten Player of the YEar clearly makes himself one of the most interesting players to watch. Scoring 18 ppg and adding in eight rpg is something not many players can do. But adding in that the seven-footer shoots almost 40% from three-point-range and adds three steals per contest, makes him almost unstoppable. Wisconsin will go only as far as Kaminsky can carry them (I think Dez Wells explains it best).
D’Angelo Russell (Ohio State) Russell changes games by himself. A dynamic scorer averaging about 19 ppg and shooting 41 percent from three, he will likely be the one with the ball in his hands as the game closes out. Russell has grown over the year, and averages a little over 5 rebounds and assists. Down the stretch this season, he has been playing nearly all 40 minutes of games for the Buckeyes
Karl Cochran (Wofford) The senior guard lead the Terriers in ppg (14.6), rpg (5.8), and apg (2.7). Cochran has been a starter since his sophomore season, and this is his second NCAA Tournament in a row. Last season, he came out leading his team against the Michigan Wolverines. He scored 17 of Wofford’s 40 points, and also added five rebounds, three assists, and two steals. Watch for Cochran to make a push to make his career last at least one more game
Marcus Paige (North Carolina) Marcus Paige, oh how Maryland fans like not hearing this name all the time. Paige is still rolling in the ACC averaging about 14 points and 5 assists per game. His numbers are down from last season, but he will be the one player that Roy Williams will want to lead this team through the early rounds of the tournament.
Arizona is what the West Region was designed for. Stanley Johnson (14.1 ppg) and Brandon Ashley (12.3 ppg) will be dominating opponents until the play in the Elite Eight, where they would face Wisconsin. The question is, will they be able to handle Kentucky in the National Semifinal Game?
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