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2014 NCAA Tournament West Region: Instant Analysis


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Arizona was named the No. 1 seed out west, meaning that they will be playing their first two games in San Diego and, assuming they advance, in Anaheim.

The No. 8-No. 9 game in their region will feature Gonzaga against Oklahoma State, who was the one team that every No. 1 seed in the country was looking to avoid in their region. The Cowboys struggled throughout much of the season, but now with Marcus Smart playing some of the best basketball of his career, they can beat anyone. 

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The No. 2 seed out west is Wisconsin, who draws American in the opening round in Milwaukee, but like No. 1 seed Arizona, the Badgers got a tough draw with a potential Round of 32 game as they may end up playing Oregon. Like Oklahoma State, Oregon is a team that reached the top ten at one point this season before struggling to start Pac-12 play. They bounced back, however, and were one of the hottest teams in the country down the stretch of the season. Oregon matches up really well with Wisconsin.

The No. 3 seed in the West is Creighton and National Player of the Year Doug McDermott, who get an intriguing Round of 32 matchup with the winner of No. 6 Baylor and No. 11 Nebraska. If it’s the latter, that’s a heated in-state rivalry between two programs that are having their best seasons in a long, long time. If its Baylor, well, can you imagine what Creighton’s shooters can do to the Baylor zone? 

MORERead through all of our bracket analysis here

The No. 4 seed is San Diego State, who will be playing their first two games in Spokane. The Aztecs will square off with New Mexico State and the massive Sim Bhullar in the opening round. It also sets up a potentially incredible Sweet 16 matchup between Arizona and San Diego State.

One of the trendiest upset picks will be No. 12 seed North Dakota State knocking off No. 5 seed Oklahoma. The Sooners finished second in a loaded Big 12 conference, but they aren’t a great defensive team and NDSU can score.


POSTERIZED: Wyoming’s Josh Adams takes flight

Josh Adams
Associated Press
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Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.

After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.

Video credit: Wyoming Athletics

Defensive progress will determine No. 4 Iowa State’s ceiling

Monte Morris
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Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.

Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.

Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.

Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.

Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.

But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.