Top seed outlook: Gonzaga is the best club in the West by a substantial margin, but the Zags, despite reaching the final two years ago, haven’t always performed well under the lights of the championship. However, Gonzaga has a 70 percent probability of reaching the Elite Eight, based on our model, as well as the third-best odds of any group to accomplish the national championship game (26 percent).
If Gonzaga face Syracuse in the next round, the Bulldogs trouble could be given by the Orange’s zone defense. This is the best crime Mark Few has experienced Spokane, but it could possibly be analyzed by some of the terrific defenses in the West: Four of the best 15 can be found within this region, including the top two at Texas Tech and Michigan.
Sneaky Final Four pick: No. 4 Florida State. A fixture at the KenPom Top 20 for most of the season, the Seminoles are hoping to build on last season’s championship run, which saw them come inside a 4-point margin of creating the Final Four. FSU has a dominant defense (No. 9 in Pomeroy’s ratings) and a balanced roster that saw four players accumulate at least 2.5 win stocks. This draw isn’t horrible, either: Vermont is not particularly tough as a first-round foe, and Marquette is quite beatable (more on that below). No. 1 seeded Gonzaga probably looms then, and we give FSU a 24 percent chance from the Zags — but the Seminoles could have a 48 percent chance of creating the Final Four if they had been to pull off the upset.
Don’t wager on: No. 5 Marquette. Teams seeded fifth are not usually good bets to make it past the Sweet 16 anyhow, but Marquette could be an especially terrible pick. As stated by the FiveThirtyEight power evaluations, the Golden Eagles are undoubtedly the worst No. 5 seed in the area, and also a first-round date using breakout mid-major celebrity Ja Morant did not do them any favors. Marquette has some star power of its own in junior guard Markus Howard, who ranks sixth in the nation with an average of 25 points per game, but this team lost five of its final six games and has a tough tournament road before it.
Cinderella watch: No. 10 Florida. The Gators might have been one of the last bubble teams to sneak in the area of 68, however they are poised to do some damage that they are here. They drew Nevada, a so-so No. 7 seed, at the very first round, and also we provide Florida a 42 percent chance of pulling the upset there. Last year’s nationwide runner-up, Michigan, likely waits in Round two, and that’s a tough matchup (23 percentage odds for Florida) — however if the Gators win, then they have a 38 percent chance of earning the Elite Eight. In a region with quite a few possibilities that are good-but-flawed, Florida appears better than the.
Player to watch: Gonzaga, Brandon Clarke The Zags’ linchpin isn’t the consensus lottery selection, nor the two guards that have together started 87 percent of Gonzaga’s games . It is Brandon Clarke, a move from San Jose State who is in his first active season with the group. He’s perhaps the most underappreciated player in the country.
On a group that typically features a it’s Clarke. Clarke has responded by placing a single-season blocks record and submitting the maximum block rate of any team under Few.
“If I feel as when I can get a great, quick jump first, I’ll pretty much jump with anybody,” Clarke told me. “I mean, I have seen Zion (Williamson) coming down through the lane before TV, and when I can’t jump at the ideal time, I likely wouldn’t jump , but… I do not actually see myself not leaping with anybody.”
Likeliest first-round upsets: No. 9 Baylor over No. 8 Syracuse (48 percent); No. 10 Florida over No. 7 Nevada (42 percent); No. 12 Murray State over No. 5 Marquette (32 percent)
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