NCAA tournament preview: West Region

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
Arizona’s Rondae Hollis-Jefferson grabs a rebound in front of Colorado’s Ben Mills during the Wildcats’ victory in the semifinals of the Pac-12 tournament on Friday.
(Ethan Miller / Getty Images)

1 Arizona (30-4, at-large) vs.

16 Weber State (19-11, Big Sky champion)

Arizona, the 1997 NCAA champion, is 13-5 as a top-seeded team. Senior guard Davion Berry averages 19.1 points for Weber State, making its first appearance since 2007.

8 Gonzaga (28-6, West Coast champion) vs.


9 Oklahoma State (21-12, at-large)

Sam Dower averages 15 points, Kevin Pangos 14.1 for Gonzaga, making its 16th straight NCAA appearance. Marcus Smart averages 17.8 points, Markel Brown 17.1 for Oklahoma State.

5 Oklahoma (23-9, at-large) vs.

12 N. Dakota State (25-6, Summit champion)


Buddy Hield is scoring 16.2 points a game for an Oklahoma team that averages 82.2. North Dakota State’s Taylor Braun averages 18.2 points for a team that shoots a nation-best 51%.

4 San Diego State (29-4, at-large) vs.

13 New Mexico State (26-9, Western Athletic champion)

San Diego State limits opponents to 57 points a game. New Mexico State features 7-foot-5 sophomore Sim Bhullar, who averages 10.3 points and 7.9 rebounds.

6 Baylor (24-11, at-large) vs.

11 Nebraska (19-12, at-large)

Forward Corey Jefferson averages 13.5 points for Baylor. Forward Terran Petteway, a transfer from Texas Tech, averages 18.1 points for ¿Nebraska.

3 Creighton (26-7, at-large) vs.


14 La. Lafayette (23-11, Sun Belt champion)

Creighton has more than Doug McDermott. Forward Ethan Wragge averages 10.5 points and four rebounds. Shawn Long averages 10.9 rebounds for Louisiana Lafayette.

7 Oregon (23-9, at-large) vs.

10 Brigham Young (23-11, at-large)

Oregon defeated BYU, 100-96, in overtime in December. BYU guard Kyle Collinsworth suffered a season-ending knee injury against Gonzaga in the WCC title game.

2 Wisconsin (26-7, at-large) vs.

15 American (20-12, Patriot champion)

7-footer Frank Kaminsky averages 13.6 points and 6.4 rebounds for the Badgers. Tony Wroblicky averages 12.2 points for American, which finished 10-20 last season.


Inspecting the top seeds

1 ARIZONA: The Wildcats, under Coach Sean Miller, won 21 consecutive games to start the season. They lost to UCLA in the Pac-12 Conference tournament final.

2 WISCONSIN: The Badgers stumbled in the Big Ten tournament, but Coach Bo Ryan’s team caught a break by starting the NCAA tournament in Milwaukee.

3 CREIGHTON: Senior Doug McDermott is the top scorer in major-college basketball. His father is the Bluejays’ coach. They would like a family-friendly Final Four.

4 SAN DIEGO STATE: Coach Steve Fisher has turned the Aztecs into a perennial tournament team. Perhaps this season’s defense-minded group is the one that makes a Final Four run.

Cinderella search

Oklahoma State, Oregon and North Dakota State are better bets, especially with Nebraska 0-6 in the NCAA tournament. But foam-rubber Cornhead hats at the Final Four would be great.

Top players

Nick Johnson, guard, Arizona

Freshman Aaron Gordon is a top NBA prospect, but Johnson averages 16.1 points for a team trying to get Arizona back to the Final Four for the first time since 2001.

Doug McDermott, forward, Creighton

The senior, a Sports Illustrated cover boy and candidate for national player-of-the-year honors, averages a nation-best 26.9 points. He has made 94 of 207 (45%) of his three-point shots.

Xavier Thames, guard, San Diego State

The senior from Sacramento, who transferred from Washington State after his freshman season, leads the Aztecs in scoring at 16.8 points a game and also averages 3.2 assists.

Rim shots

This is North Dakota State’s second NCAA tournament appearance. The Bison nearly upset Kansas in 2009, the first year the Bison were eligible in Division I.

Oklahoma’s Lon Kruger has guided five programs to the NCAA tournament — Kansas State, Florida, Illinois, Nevada Las Vegas and Oklahoma.

Gonzaga senior guard David Stockton averages 4.2 assists a game. He is the son of basketball Hall of Famer John Stockton.

If Creighton and Nebraska win their first games, it would be an All-Nebraska matchup. Creighton, located in Omaha, defeated the Cornhuskers, 82-67, in December.

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