The Gonzaga Bulldogs, winners of the WCC, received the top seed in the West Region and will begin play in Salt Lake City against SWAC champion Southern. Mark Few’s team went 31-2 and ran the table in league play, and they’ve lost just once in 2013 (at Butler). Ohio State, which won the Big Ten tournament, received the two-seed in the West. But the Buckeyes drew a tough matchup in the first round, as they’ll take on Iona.
Completing the top four seeds are three-seed New Mexico, winners of the Mountain West, and four-seed Kansas State. Bruce Weber’s Wildcats, which won a share of the Big 12 regular season title, will take on the winner of the opening round game between Boise State and La Salle.
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Given the amount of debate regarding Gonzaga’s status as a 1-seed, keep an eye on the 8/9 matchup between Pittsburgh and Wichita State. Both teams are physical and do a solid job of rebounding, which may help them match up with the likes of Kelly Olynyk and Elias Harris.
A sleeper in the West bracket? Wisconsin may qualify as the 5-seed, with their style being one that could prove problematic for much of the region beginning with 12-seed Ole Miss.
Some upset possibilities to keep in mind are Belmont over Arizona in Salt Lake City, and given Ohio State’s offensive struggles don’t rule out an Iona squad that ranks among the best scoring teams in the country in that one. Last year’s tournament featured two 15-seeds pulling off upsets, as Lehigh beat Duke and Norfolk State knocked off Missouri.
Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.
An interesting recruiting development hit on Friday as Josh Gershon of Scout.com reported that four-star center Jayce Johnson is reclassifying to the Class of 2015 and looking to join a program at semester break.
The 7-foot native of California is down to Cal, Colorado and Utah and Johnson is on an official visit to Utah this weekend after transferring to a charter school this week. As Gershon notes, only Cal has a scholarship to offer Johnson this season, but the family is willing to pay a semester at the other programs if it’s the right fit. Johnson would like to redshirt and train with his future college while playing against more mature players.
But if Johnson is persuaded not to redshirt, he could be an intriguing big man off the bench later in the season for a couple of teams looking to make a postseason appearance. As the No. 67 overall prospect in the Class of 2016, Johnson is a talented prospect and he isn’t afraid to score with either hand. With some time to fill out, Johnson can turn into a talented Pac-12 player down the road.
New Utah Valley head coach Mark Pope made quite an impression on fans at the team’s Midnight Madness celebration last night. That’s because Pope did a dance and lip sync routine with his four daughters that turned out to be pretty impressive.
The former BYU assistant looks to be the leader in the clubhouse for best coach dance so far this preseason. We’ll see if any other coaches pull out elaborate routines at madness celebrations the next few weeks.