2018 NCAA Tournament Bracket Breakdown: Is Chris Mack going to be how the West Region is won?

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For me, the West Region is the most interesting of them all, and for some reason, it feels like it plays out this way every year.

It starts with the simple fact that Chris Mack, the head coach of the No. 1 seed Xavier Musketeers, has never made a Final Four. He’s also never been a No. 1 seed before, so if he is in the mood to end his personal bugaboos, this may be the last time we mention his name in the “Best Coach Without A Final Four” category.

But if Xavier is going to make it to the final weekend of the college basketball season, they are likely going to have to go through at least one of a trio of Hall of Fame-caliber coaches to do it.

Mark Few and Gonzaga is the No. 4 seed in the West.

John Beilein and Michigan is the No. 3 seed.

Roy Williams and North Carolina is the No. 2 seed.

There are a lot of wins — and a lot of wins in March — on the resumes of those gentlemen.

We shall see how it all works out. Until then, enjoy what should be the most open region of them all.


  1. Is this the last we’ll see of Chris Mack at Xavier?: Ooooh boy, are Xavier fans not going to like me for this. But at this point, I think it may be the biggest question of the region. It’s not a secret that Louisville has an opening, nor is it a secret that Louisville and Mack may have a mutual interest in each other. The fit makes sense. Will Mack be willing to leave his alma mater to take over a program that could be facing another lengthy NCAA investigation?
  2. Mark Few and Roy Williams are back in the mix again: Few and Williams squared off for the national title last April, and I think everyone more or less assumed that both of those teams would take a step back this year with the unexpected talent drain and the loss of key seniors. But they’re back, Roy Williams as the No. 2 seed and Few as the No. 4. There’s a reason Williams is in the Hall of Fame, and there’s a reason that Few will likely end up joining him there one day.
  3. Which Michael Porter Jr. is going to show up?: Porter is back. He played in the SEC tournament opener. He looked like a kid that missed four months following back surgery. I’m not sure what a week-long layoff without any games is going to do for someone that needs game-action to shake off the rust, but here we are. The good news? There’s absolutely nothing scary about Florida State as a No. 9 seed. Porter should get two more games.

THE ELITE 8 MATCHUP IS … No. 1 Xavier vs. No. 2 North Carolina

This is the hardest Elite 8 matchup to pick because the Sweet 16 out West should be tremendous. Xavier-Gonzaga has the chance to be a shootout with Trevon Bluiett going up against a trio of versatile, athletic future NBA forwards, while North Carolina-Michigan is a matchup between an offensive juggernaut winning games with their defense and a team known for their overpowering big men playing small(ish) ball.


It’s hard to pick a sleeper in this region because I don’t think that any of the top four seeds can count as sleepers. I also don’t think that Ohio State gets out of the first round (more on that in a second) or that Texas A&M has the guard play to do anything of relevance. So I’ll go with Kelvin Sampson and the Cougars, who have one of college basketball’s most underrated lead guards in Rob Gray — who has one of college basketball’s most underrated hairdos — and that came one errant pass away from potentially ending Championship Week with an AAC tournament title. They’re coming in hot, and you know how much I love picking teams that are doing just that.

(Al Bello/Getty Images)


  • No. 12 South Dakota State over No. 5 Ohio State: This is my favorite upset pick of the entire bracket. The Jackrabbits have the four things that I think you need to have to win a game as a smaller school: 1. A stud in Mike Daum; 2. A team that shoots the leather off the ball; 3. A back court that doesn’t commit turnovers; 4. A front line that clears the defensive glass. Throw in the fact that Ohio State’s bigs are immobile, and this has upset written all over it.
  • No. 10 Providence over No. 7 Texas A&M: Ed Cooley is a masterful head coach who has a sensational point guard in Kyron Cartwright going up against a team that has had their back court miss more games than they’ve played.
  • No. 11 San Diego State over No. 6 Houston: The only team in the country that may actually be hotter than Houston right now is San Diego State. They beat MWC regular season champ Nevada by 30 in the conference tournament and are playing their best basketball in years.


I think it’s very difficult to picture a scenario where Michigan is not in the Sweet 16. Their point guard, Zavier Simpson, can absolutely snuff out any kind of success that an opposing ball-handler will have, and both Montana and Houston are teams whose best players is the lead guard. That’s a tough matchup for them.


  • TREVON BLUIETT, Xavier: There is not a player in the tournament that I feel more comfortable saying will put the team on his back for three, four, five or six games than Bluiett.
  • JOEL BERRY II, North Carolina: Luke Maye is UNC’s all-american, but Berry is their rock, their heartbeat, their soul. He’s all the clichés.
  • MOE WAGNER, Michigan: Wagner is going to be a March darling if the Wolverines make a run because of his story: He’s German, he plays like Dirk and he also has a big goofy smile on his face that makes him look like the world’s largest nine-year old.


  • MIKE DAUM, South Dakota State: The big fella averaged 24 points and 10 boards while shooting better than 41 percent from three, and he plays on a team that could very well end up winning a game or two in the Big Dance.
  • KYRON CARTWRIGHT, Providence: The Friars aren’t exactly a mid-major, but they are a No. 10 seed that has a chance to win a couple of games.


For me, the best first round matchup is between Ohio State and South Dakota State, but I also think that Houston-San Diego State has a chance to be really good as well.


I just want the Sweet 16 out West to be the top four seeds. All the matchups in that situation would be perfect.


North Carolina. I’ll bet on Joel Berry II, Roy Williams and the Tar Heels, but you can pick any of the top four seeds and I’d probably be fine with it.

Police: Thief steals electronics from UNC basketball program

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — Police say someone stole thousands of dollars in electronics from the University of North Carolina men’s basketball team locker room and office while they were away for the ACC tournament.

UNC-Chapel Hill campus police said on Twitter that the break-in happened at the Dean Smith Center on March 9, and they released images of a man they believe may have been involved.

A police report says the thief managed to get into the team locker room and basketball office without forced entry, according to The Herald-Sun.

The report says the thief stole a PlayStation 4, Xbox One and clothing worth $2,900 that belonged to the athletic department. Police say the thief also stole a laptop worth $1,200 and a financial document worth about $3,000 belonging to one of the players.

No upsets over here: No. 1 seed UConn women set scoring records in first round game

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The No. 1 overall seed on the men’s side of the NCAA tournament made history on Friday night.

They because the first No. 1 seed to lose to a No. 16 seed in the first round of the tournament, as Virginia lost to UMBC, if you were still unaware.

Over on the women’s side, the bracket is nowhere near as broken, because UConn’s women made history, too. They set NCAA tournament records for … well, almost everything it seems like.

The Huskies were up 55-19 at the end of the first quarter of their first round game against St. Francis (PA). Those 55 points are an NCAA tournament record. They held a 94-31 lead at the half, another NCAA tournament record, and held on to win 140-52.

The 140 points that Geno Auriemma’s team scored was an NCAA tournament record. The 88 points that they won by was one point short of an NCAA tournament record 89 points that was set by Baylor in a win over Texas Southern last season.

Oh, and the Huskies set the record for more assists in an NCAA tournament game — 38 — for good measure.

All in all, I think it’s safe to say that the fans in Storrs had a better weekend than the fans in Charlottesville. Hopefully, that will allow them to forget the fact that the men’s basketball program has become a laughing stock.

2018 NCAA Tournament: Maryland Governor calls UMBC upset, so does NBC Sports’ writer son

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Never before in the history of the NCAA tournament as a No. 16 seed upset a No. 1 seed.

That was until Friday night, when UMBC sent the No. 1 overall seed Virginia packing.

And if you thought no one had picked that upset, you were wrong.

Let’s start with the Maryland Governor, who was clearly a homer in picking UMBC to not only beat Virginia, but to win a national title:

Never say never, but … that’s never going to happen bud.

But how about this: My son, who is two years old and based his picks on his hard and fast rule of “all the doggies”, called this upset!

He also called Penn over Kansas, Fullerton over Purdue and Butler winning a national title, but whatever.

That bracket is actually pretty good!

VIDEO: Virginia’s Ty Jerome does not appreciate dumb question after UMBC loss

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You have to give Virginia some credit.

After losing to No. 16 seed UMBC in the first round of the NCAA tournament, the players on that roster faced the music. They went up to the dais and answered question from reporters on national television.

There is no way they enjoyed that.

And you can tell because Ty Jerome had absolutely no interest in answering dumb questions from reporters:

He was not amused.

2018 NCAA Tournament: Saturday’s betting lines, point spreads, over-unders

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Here is the full TV schedule, with spreads, over-unders and betting lines, for every game for the first four days of the NCAA tournament.

(Lines are updated for Saturday morning.)

Pittsburgh: Kevin Harlan, Reggie Miller, Dan Bonner and Dana Jacobson

  • 12:10 p.m.: No. 1 Villanova (-11.5) vs. No. 9 Alabama, CBS (149.5)
  • 2:40 p.m.: No. 2 Duke (-9.5) vs. No. 7 Rhode Island, CBS (149)

Boise: Brian Anderson, Chris Webber and Lisa Byington

  • 5:15 p.m.: No. 5 Kentucky (-5.5) vs. No. 13 Buffalo, CBS (155)
  • 7:45 p.m.: No. 4 Gonzaga (-4) vs. No. 5 Ohio State, CBS (141.5)

Dallas: Spero Dedes, Steve Smith, Len Elmore and Ros Gold-Onwude

  • 6:10 p.m.: No. 3 Tennessee (-5) vs. No. 11 Loyola (Chicago), TNT (131.5)
  • 8:40: No. 3 Texas Tech (-1.5) vs. No. 6 Florida, TNT (133.5)

Wichita: Brad Nessler, Steve Lavin and Evan Washburn

  • 7:10 p.m.: No. 1 Kansas (-4.5) vs. No. 8 Seton Hall, TBS (154.5)
  • 9:40 p.m.: No. 3 Michigan (-3) vs. No. 6 Houston, TBS (135)