SAN JOSE, Calif. — Do you know the way to San Jose? Because it seems like Arizona, Gonzaga, West Virginia and Xavier found their way. Those four teams are headed to the NCAA West Regionals this Thursday at the SAP Center in San Jose. First off will be the Sweet 16 games with the winners advancing to the Regional Finals, or Elite Eight. Here is a preview of the games we should expect to see:
1. Gonzaga Bulldogs vs 4. West Virginia Mountaineers
The Gonzaga Bulldogs are having quite a season this year, having only lost one game the entire season. Gonzaga has five players who are averaging over 10 points-per-game. Four of those players are also averaging over five rebounds-per-game.
While the West Virginia Mountaineers continue to power their way through their opponents with their full-court-press style defense earning the nickname “Press Virginia.” The Mountaineers have forced 724 turnovers this season for the best in the NCAA.
So that leaves us wondering: Will the Mountaineers’ press be able to slow down Gonzaga’s offense? If we’re going to get personal here, I don’t think that will be the case.
Gonzaga’s talent is just really deep with Przemek Karnowski and Jordan Matthews dominating the paint and Zach Collins hitting from long-range. I just don’t see West Virginia advancing past this team.
Who Advances: Gonzaga
2. Arizona Wildcats vs 11. Xavier Musketeers
This is the second time since 2015 that Arizona head coach Sean Miller is facing his former team in the Sweet 16. The last time the two teams faced off, Arizona defeated the Musketeers, with the first matchup advancing the Wildcats to the Elite Eight against the Wisconsin Badgers.
This week, Sean Miller shared a “fun anecdote” with Jim Rome, claiming that Xavier head coach, Chris Mack, believes they agreed to a “pact” that if Arizona won the first sweet 16 matchup, Sean Miller would return the favor… but only in Mack’s dreams, Miller joked.
The Musketeers are the lowest seed remaining in the NCAA Tournament, at 11. But in no way should be dismissed after having defeated Maryland and Florida State on their way to the Sweet 16. They are a dangerous team if they can play a lights out offense like we’ve seen from them in the past, but they would have to remain that consistent throughout the game to beat a “savage life” style Arizona team led by Rawle Alkins.
I can see this game start out close in the first half. Yet, Arizona will eventually break away and run away with the win in this one.
Who Advances: Arizona
The West Region Sweet 16 begins Thursday at 4:39 PM PDT at the SAP Center at San Jose and airs on TBS. The winners will advance to the Elite Eight on Saturday at 6:05 PM PDT.