West Region (Sub-Regional)
Where: Salt Lake City, Utah - Vivint Sports Arena
Announcers: Andrew Catalon & Steve Lappas
No. 1 seed - Gonzaga Bulldogs
Season Record: 32-1 (17-1) *West Coast Conference Regular Season & Tournament Champions*
Head Coach: Mark Few
Top Player: Nigel Williams-Goss (16.9 ppg)
1st Rd Matchup: vs. South Dakota St.
Analysis: The Zags head into the tournament as one of the top teams in the country. Veteran coach Mark Few has his Bulldogs playing at a high level, led by guard Nigel Williams-Goss along with a great supporting cast. Gonzaga is a balanced team who can score in a variety of ways and this could be the best defensive team Coach Few has had in Spokane. Big man Przemek Karnowski is a tone setter down low and a load to handle. Jonathan Williams III is a versatile, rebounding power forward who compliments Karnowski well. This is a deep Zags team who seems primed for the first ever Final Four berth.
No. 2 seed - Arizona Wildcats
Season Record: 30-4 (16-2) *Pac 12 Conference Tournament Champions*
Head Coach: Sean Miller
Top Player: Allonzo Trier (16.4 ppg)
1st Rd Matchup: vs. North Dakota
Analysis: Arizona comes into the NCAA Tournament as one of the hottest teams in the country. They earned a No. 2 seed behind defeating both UCLA and Oregon to win their conference tournament and posting an overall record of 30-4. The Wildcats were in consideration to be the No. 1 seed in the West Region. They are led by versatile scorer Allonzo Trier and freshman big man Lauri Markkanen. Both guys are significant players to the Arizona roster and both can score from anywhere on the court. Arizona isn't a real deep team but their top seven guys are very talented. The Wildcats are considered a team to watch for to make it to the Final Four and compete for a national title.
No. 7 seed - Saint Mary's Gaels
Season Record: 28-4 (16-2) *Finished 2nd in the West Coast Conference*
Head Coach: Randy Bennett
Top Player: Jock Landale (16.8 ppg)
1st Rd Matchup: vs. VCU
Analysis: The Gaels have had a sensational season posting 28 wins while only losing 4 games but three of those losses came to Gonzaga. Saint Mary's had a few good wins this season over Dayton, Nevada and Stanford and feel poised to make a run in the NCAA Tournament. A crisp passing, good shooting offensive team in Saint Mary's, the Gaels like to spread the court and use all five players to pass and shoot. Jock Landale runs the show inside and is a soft handed, bruising big man who can lead the Gaels for a deep run. This could be the best Saint Mary's team to reach the tourney since Bennett has been at the helm.
No. 8 seed - Northwestern Wildcats
Season Record: 23-11 (10-8) *Finished 5th in the Big 10 Conference - 1st ever NCAA Tournament appearance*
Head Coach: Chris Collins
Top Player: Bryant McIntosh (14.4 ppg)
1st Rd Matchup: vs. Vanderbilt
Analysis: Everybody in Evanston are excited about their Wildcats reaching the NCAA Tournament for the 1st time in program's history and they have a team worthy in being there. Head coach Chris Collins has done a great job with this team and program, building everything from scratch and putting together a competitive, scrappy ball team. Northwestern is an efficient offensive team who can shoot from deep or drive to the basket for easy looks. They are also pretty solid on the defensive end as well. The Wildcats back court in Bryant McIntosh and Scottie Lindsay are the top scorers and go to guys. The Wildcats are not a deep team but play spirited basketball and should be primed for their first appearance in the Big Dance.
No. 9 seed - Vanderbilt Commodores
Season Record: 19-15 (10-8) *Finished 7th in the SEC after having a record of 9-11 earlier this season*
Head Coach: Bryce Drew
Top Player: Luke Kornet (13.2 ppg)
1st Rd Matchup: vs. Northwestern
Analysis: Vanderbilt is one of the biggest surprises in the 2017 NCAA Tournament and could also be considered one of the hottest as well. The Commodores at one point did not look like a team that would make any postseason play but they turned things around from a losing record to play themselves into the Big Dance. The Commodores are a balanced offensive team who loves shooting from deep. Vanderbilt is one of the best three point shooting teams in the country along with being very efficient from the free throw line. Center Luke Kornet is the straw that stirs the drink for Vanderbilt. The 7'1 big man is a force down low with his defense and provides three point shooting as well. Vanderbilt is a tough matchup for teams but can they remain on fire as they start play on Thursday afternoon.
No. 10 seed - Virginia Commonwealth Rams (VCU)
Season Record: 26-8 (14-4) *Finished 2nd in A-10 Conference - Lost in the Conference Tournament Game*
Head Coach: Will Wade
Top Player: JeQuan Lewis (14.2 ppg)
1st Rd Matchup: vs. Saint Mary's
Analysis: The Rams are led by head coach Will Wade, who is a Nashville native and is a guy who is getting used to taking his team to the NCAA Tournament. VCU had another good season and comes to Salt Lake City as a strong defensive team who generates points in transitions and have a quick back court that can take over a game. JeQuan Lewis and Jonathan Williams are the top guards who play tough on both sides of the court and work well with front court mates Justin Tillman and Mo Alie-Cox. The Rams are a veteran squad who just seem to know how to win. They will be a tough matchup for the Gaels and a team who could give Arizona a tough game in round two.
No. 15 seed - North Dakota Fighting Hawks
Season Record: 22-9 (14-4) *Won both the regular season and conference tournament championships - 1st NCAA appearance*
Head Coach: Brian Jones
Top Player: Quinton Hooker (19.1 ppg)
1st Rd Matchup: vs. Arizona
Analysis: The Fighting Hawks are set to make their first appearance in the NCAA Tournament and their success lands them a 1st round matchup with possibly the hottest teams on the west coast in Arizona. North Dakota does like the score the ball though and is led by Quinton Hooker who can put points in a hurry. His back court mate in Geno Crandell can fill it up as well. His 15.6 points per game is 2nd on the team and his slashing abilities could be a tough matchup for the Wildcats defense to handle. North Dakota isn't the biggest of teams, so the rely a lot on their guards and ability to score the ball from anywhere on the court. You can be sure that Fighting Hawks will be prepared for a fight in excitement for their 1st ever NCAA game.
No. 16 seed - South Dakota State Jack Rabbits
Season Record: 18-16 (8-8) *Won the Summit League Conference Tournament Championship to earn an NCAA berth*
Head Coach: T.J. Otzelberger
Top Player: Mike Daum (25.3 ppg)
1st Rd Matchup: vs. Gonzaga
Analysis: The Jack Rabbits became one of those mid major schools who had to win their conference tournament to even play in the NCAA Tournament and that's exactly what they did. South Dakota St. is riding a hot streak right now and is being led by one of the best scoring big men in the country. Center Mike Daum is a big, physical, soft touch scoring big man who has a future in the NBA. Having Daum go up against Zags center Przemek Karnowski will be a great matchup to watch as both guys are big, physical men who score really well around the basket. The Jack Rabbits can score the ball, so defense will be the biggest question to watch when the line up against the Zags.