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NCAA Tournament West Region Preview Predictions & Futures

Written by: Richard Janvrin
Published March 16, 2023
20 min read

After a pretty straightforward Round of 64 in the west region, we are ready to get the Round of 32 started. One thing that separates the west region bracket from all of the others is that it was the only region to survive all upset in the first round. The west region had some interesting match-ups in the first round but every team performed to expectations, the favorites advancing as the underdogs packed their bags and headed for the exit. 

In the next round, the west region has the potential to host the most exciting play in the Round of 32. With powerhouses such as No. 1 Kansas, No. 2 UCLA, and No. 3 Gonzaga remaining in the west, there is still a chance for some nail-biting upsets. The Round of 32 in the west region will kick off at 5:15 pm EST on CBS with No. 1 Kansas facing off against No. 8 Arkansas.

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NCAA Tournament West Region Preview Prediction & Futures

Predictions for Upsets and Cinderella Teams

#8 Arkansas Razorbacks: 21-13 (8-10, 9th in SEC)

  • Head Coach: Eric Musselman

  • Leading Scorer: Ricky Council IV

Coming into the tournament the Arkansas Razorbacks were seen as a team that would make or break themselves. After a 10-point over Illinois to advance to the Round of 32, the Razorbacks are getting a lot more eyes on them. Arkansas is led by junior Ricky Council IV in terms of a scorer but is a team that relies on the play of their talented freshman a ton. The Big Three of freshman Anthony Black, freshman Nick Smith, and Council combined for 36 points in their win over Illinois in the Round of 64.

The Must-Watch Game of the Second-Round

#6 TCU vs. #3 Gonzaga 

The Gonzaga Bulldogs will be led by extremely experienced senior Drew Timme who is putting up 20.9 points to go along with 7.3 rebounds per night. The bulldogs can also rely on a good-shooting performance from Julian Strawther who averages 2.3 made three-pointers per game. 

The TCU Horned Frogs were able to escape an upset in the first round from the Arizona Sun Devils and they will be up against an even greater challenge in the Round of 32. The Horned frogs will be led by the skilled backcourt of guard Mike Miles who averages 13.3 points per night while shooting at 41% from the field and guard Damion Baugh who puts up 12.5 points, 5.9 assists, and 1.8 steals per outing. 

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Team In Threat of Leaving the Party Early In The Round of 32

The renowned Kansas Jayhawks take the cake on this one. This is not because the Jayhawks have detrimental holes in their approach or a lack of star power, this is more of a credit to the Arkansas Razorbacks’ depth and ability to find scoring and high-level play in any direction down the bench that you look at.

As mentioned before the Razorbacks lean on their freshman class heavily for scoring and playmaking but this is not necessarily a bad thing. The Razorback freshman players aren’t your average freshman. Freshman Anthony Black, Nick Smith, and Jordan Walsh are NBA talents and have shown it more than a few times on the collegiate level. Kansas is filled with NBA talents as well but at times I feel like Arkansas can play with more juice than the Jayhawks. 

Check out the Best March Madness Betting Sites for the 2023 NCAA Tournament: Best March Madness Betting Sites & Sportsbook Apps 2023

Top Five Players Left In the West Region To Keep An Eye On

  • Nick Smith - Arkansas: 13.5 ppg, (38.1 FG%)

At 6-foot-5, Nick Smith is the perfect representation of the modern point guard that teams want nowadays. He has great size for the position with a lanky 6”8’ wingspan. Smith has extreme touch on his floaters and shots around the basket, He can eat on mid-range pull-up jumpers and extend his range out to the three-point line. Earlier in the season Smith was dubbed the best player in college basketball by many bigwigs because he can score at will while displaying elite playmaking. With his size and skill, Smith is dangerous on both sides of the ball.

  • Jaime Jaquez - UCLA: 17.3 ppg, 8.1 rpg (47.4 FG%)

The senior forward plays a physical brand of basketball by bullying and overpowering any opponents who may be smaller or weaker than him to create his own buckets. Jaquez Jr. is a tough shot maker that knows how to pull something out of nothing in big moments. His tough-as-a-nail mindset propels him to seek out the contact on every touch which will be dangerous for teams that foul at a high rate. Jaquez Jr. is a three-level scorer with more experience than any other player in the NCAA, this will be his last chance to get the gold with UCLA.

  • Mike Miles Jr. - TCU: 17.3 ppg, (49.7 FG%)

At 6-foot-2 junior guard, Mike Miles operates as a two-way player for the TCU Horned Frogs. Miles Jr. is an athletic combo guard on the offensive side of the ball. He can create his own shots and convert on his looks at a high level. Miles is a leader and a player that can do a little bit of everything on the court. He is a game-changing point guard with very few holes in his game. His ability to run an offense and set teammates up should be able to take the Horned Frogs far this year.

  • Drew Timme - Gonzaga: 20.9 ppg, 7.3 rpg (62.4 FG%)

For the past four seasons, Drew Timme has been recognized as one of the most popular faces of NCAA Men’s Basketball, he brings intensity, energy, and leadership to the Bulldogs and has shown why he deserves to be captain after their incredible tournament run in 2021. Timme is an elite low-post scorer who can stretch his game out to the mid-range. He is a good playmaker at his size and position and has the motor to keep plays alive and generate second-chance opportunities with his high-level rebounding skills. 

  • Anthony Black - Arkansas: 12.8 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 4.1 apg (46 FG%)

Black had some serious struggles against Illinois only chipping in 6 points and two turnovers while shooting 20% from the field in the Razorbacks’ victory but there’s no denying this kid's talent. At 6-foot-7, Black gives the Razorbacks great size in the backcourt and can get things done on both sides of the court. Black operates best with the ball in his hands but can also be very effective off-ball. He has good physical tools and an unselfish approach to the game each time he touches the ball. 

Current Prediction for the West Region Winner

#2 UCLA Bruins: 29-5 (18-2, 1st in Pac-12)

As mentioned previously, The Bruins are the fittest to win the region if you ask me. UCLA is a team that is led by two vets that have been here and done this before. Jaime Jaquez Jr. is determined to get an NCAA championship and with vet Tyger Cambell and a ton of young talent by his side, I believe that it is possible. The UCLA revenge tour is in full effect and I wouldn't want to be a team that gets in their way. The Bruins are loaded with offensive scoring power and floor IQ as well as veteran mindsets on the defensive end. This team should be a threat to win it all this year. 

Predictions for the Round of 32 West Region Bracket

  • #1 Kansas vs. #8 Arkansas: 5:15 pm EST on CBS

Prediction: Arkansas wins

  • #5 Saint Mary’s vs. #4 UConn: 6:10 pm EST on TNT

Prediction: Saint Mary’s wins

  • #6 TCU vs. #3 Gonzaga: 9:40 pm EST on TBS

Prediction: Gonzaga wins

  • #7 Northwestern vs. #2 UCLA: 8:40 pm on TNT

Prediction: UCLA wins

Need some betting advice or tips for the NCAA Tournament? How to Bet on March Madness: Ultimate Betting Strategy

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DraftKings Odds To Win The West Region

  • #1 Kansas odds are at +380

  • #2 UCLA odds are at +260

  • #3 Gonzaga odds are at +400

  • #4 UConn odds are at +380

  • #5 Saint Mary’s odds are at +1000

  • #6 TCU odds are at +1200

  • #7 Northwestern odds are at +3500

  • #8 Arkansas odds are at +1200

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AUTHOR

Richard Janvrin

567 Articles

After graduating from the University of New Hampshire with a BA in Journalism, Richard Janvrin has been covering iGaming and sports betting since December 2018. Richard has covered betting at Bleacher Report, Gambling.com, The Game Day, Forbes, and more.

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