Kansas is seeking to go where no NCAA Tournament team has gone since 2006-07 – win back to back titles.
The Jayhawks certainly can do it. They have a coach in Bill Self who has a record (579-131; 81.5-percent) that is gaudier than Jeff Bezos’ $500 million superyacht Koru. They have a lights-out freshman, Grady Dick, a do-everything forward, Jalen Wilson, and an senior savvy guard, Kevin McCullar Jr.
Can any team in the West Region stop Kansas from getting to its 17th Final Four? Of course. In addition to No.2 seed UCLA, which should enjoy a homecourt advantage throughout the tournament, No. 3 seed Gonzaga, which has March in its DNA, and former No,1-ranked UConn, there’s always the bracket sleeper.
Is it VCU? Or TCU? Or Boise State?
Let us help you dance.
No. 1 Seed
No.7 Texas A&M vs No.10 Penn State
No. 7 Northwestern
West Coast Conference
SEC vs Big Ten
27-7 overall 13-5
25-9 / 19-12
26-7 overall, 14-2
21-11 overall; 12-8
Buzz Williams/Micah Shrewsberry
College Station, Tx./State College, Pa.
13-15 / 9-11
Runner-up, 2017 & 2021
Regional semis, 1955 / Runner-up 1954
Final Four, 2011
Won 1st-round game, 2017
-22.5 over Howard
-15.5 over Grand Canyon
Texas A&M -2.5 over Penn State
VCU +5.5 over St, Mary’s
Northwestern +1.5 over Boise State
Texas A&M 4000 / Penn State 20000
33 straight tourney appearances
Nation’s best 87.5 points on 52.9 shooting
10 Aggies play at least 10 mins/Last 8 games decided by 4 or less points
Two losses by a total of 7 points since Jan. 1
5 Cats shoot 82% or better on FTs
NCAA TOURNAMENT TIMESHARE
Kansas and Gonzaga wouldn’t know what to do in March if either ever failed to make the tournament. The Jayhawks are making their 33rd straight tourney appearance. Gonzaga is making its 24th.
THE 5/12 SPLIT
A No. 12 seed has upset a No,5 seed in 32 of 37 NCAA Tournaments. Last year Richmond upset Iowa and New Mexico State took out UConn. The West Region has a legit contender No.12 VCU. The Rams got no respect from the Selection Committee – and the oddsmakers. Despite a 26-7 record and on a nine-game win streak, the Rams are getting 5.5.
IF IT’S FREE THE WILDCATS WILL TAKE IT.
The surprise team in the Big Ten, if not the nation, is Northwestern. They’ll have their hands full with a gritty Boise State team. If it comes down to free throws, the Wildcats have five players shooting 82-percent or better from the line.
Shake his Money Maker
Marcus “Big Shot” Shavers Jr.
242 rebs; 105 assists
Shoots 42.6-% on 3’s
Raised his scoring avg 9 points this season
Has ade 5 game-winners
Never attempted a 3 in 4 seasons
Gonzaga F Drew Timme is impossible to pigeon hole. He shots 62.4-percent from the field but just 63.3-percent from the line. He’s not a great jumper but leads the team with 242 rebounds. He’s not a point guard but is second on the team in assists with 105. Regardless, Timme wil stamp himself as one of the most productive NCAA Tournament players of all time.
PLAYING FOR MONEY
Two players in the West have a chance to make an impression on NBA scouts. Kansas forward Jalen Wilson took a major step forward this season, improving his scoring average from 11 to 20. He has another year of eligibility but at 22 is likely to declare for the draft. A big tournament performance would enhance his status. The same for Gonzaga’s Julian Strawther. Timme is the man on this team but the Zags will go as far as Strawther can take them.
It’s a good thing Boise State guard Marcus Shavers Jr. has many so many big shots in his career or his nickname might be Old Man Shavers. Shavers is 24. He committed to UC Santa Barbara out of high school but when the coach was fired Shavers pivoted to Portland State. He transferred to Boise, sat out one season, and has become the Broncs clutch player, hitting five game-winners in the last two seasons.