Here is our evaluation of the West Regional of the men's NCAA Tournament:
Many will pick Ohio State but Gonzaga has a viable shot at making its first Final Four appearance. Critics claim the Bulldogs haven't played a demanding schedule. And Gonzaga hasn't advanced past the Sweet 16 since 1999. But 7-footer Kelly Olynyk (17.5 ppg) and 6-8 forward Elias Harris (14.9 ppg) are seasoned stars on coach Mark Few's best team. Ohio State has a star in junior F Deshaun Thomas (19.6 ppg). The Buckeyes, a tough matchup for most teams, often keep games in the 60s. Steve Alford's New Mexico Lobos (29-5) won the Mountain West, which produced five NCAA Tournament teams. The senior laden Lobos are capable of making a Final Four run.
Belmont over Arizona: A popular pick on several brackets, Belmont is this year's trendy upset pick. The senior oriented Ohio Valley champions are led by senior guards Ian Clark (18.1 ppg) and G Kerron Johnson (13.7 ppg). The Bruins like to pick up the tempo (77.2 ppg), capable of posing perimeter issues for the Wildcats, who average 13 turnovers a game.
No. 13 seeds: Boise State vs. LaSalle: An entertaining matchup. Broncos are led by sophomore F Anthony Drmic (17.3 ppg). The Explorers have two players that average 15.0 or more points.
1 Gonzaga vs. 16 Southern: The Bulldogs no longer are a Cinderella mid-major. They should romp in the first round against the Jaguars, who are making their first appearance in seven years.
8 Pittsburgh vs. 9 Wichita St.: The Panthers (3-6 versus Top 25 teams) will be tested by the Shockers, who are capable but aren't nearly as talented as a year ago.
5 Wisconsin vs. 12 Ole Miss: The Badgers own recent wins over Ohio State, Michigan and Indiana. The Rebels crashed the Big Dance with a run through the SEC tournament.
4 Kansas State vs. 13 Boise-LaSalle winner: They don't wow you, but G Rodney McGruder and the Wildcats will be a tough out, a solid favorite against the first-round winner in Dayton.
3 New Mexico vs. 14 Harvard: The Lobos, a veteran team built around seniors, could make an extended run. Harvard isn't quite as dangerous as a few years ago.
6 Arizona vs. 11 Belmont: The Wildcats are on upset alert after going 5-5 their last 10 games. Belmont, a dangerous mid-major sleeper, is a fashionable upset pick.
7 Notre Dame vs. 10 Iowa State: The hot and cold Irish can be dangerous when they bring their A game but face upset capable Iowa State, the nation's top 3-point team.
2 Ohio State vs. 15 Iona: Thomas and the Buckeyes should roll, but Gaels one again are one of the nation's top scoring teams (80.7 ppg) led by senior G Lamont Jones (23.0 ppg).