Best seed outlook: Gonzaga is the best club in the West with a considerable margin, but the Zags, despite reaching haven’t always performed well beneath the glowing lights of this tournament. However, Gonzaga has a 70 percent probability of reaching the Elite Eight, according to our model, and the third-best chances of any team to reach the national championship match (26 percent).
Should Gonzaga face Syracuse in the second round, the Bulldogs trouble could be given by the Orange’s zone defense. This is the very best offense Mark Few has had in Spokane, but it may be tested by any of those terrific defenses from the West: Four of the top 15 can be found within this region, including the best two at Texas Tech and Michigan.
Sneaky Final Four pick: No. 4 Florida State. A fixture in the KenPom Top 20 for the majority of the season, the Seminoles are hoping to build on last season’s championship run, which saw them come inside a 4-point margin of creating the Final Four. FSU has a dominant defense (No. 9 at Pomeroy’s evaluations ) plus a balanced roster that saw four players collect at least 2.5 win shares. This draw isn’t terrible, either: Vermont is not particularly tough as a first-round foe, and Marquette is quite beatable (more on that below). No. 1 seeded Gonzaga probably looms after that, and we give FSU a 24 percent chance against the Zags — but the Seminoles would have a 48 percent probability of making the Final Four when they were to pull off the upset.
Don’t wager : No. 5 Marquette. Teams seeded fifth are not usually good bets to make it past the Sweet 16 anyhow, but Marquette might be an especially bad choice. As stated by the FiveThirtyEight energy ratings, the Golden Eagles are undoubtedly the worst No. 5 seed in the field, and a first-round date using breakout mid-major superstar Ja Morant didn’t do any favors. Marquette has some star power of its own in junior guard Markus Howard, who ranks sixth in the nation with an average of 25 points per game, but this team lost five of its final six matches and has a challenging tournament road before it.
Cinderella see: No. 10 Florida. They are poised to do some damage that they are here, although the Gators may have been one of the final bubble teams to creep into the field of 68. They brought Nevada, a so-so No. 7 seed, in the very first round, and also we give Florida a 42 percent chance of pulling the upset there. Last year’s nationwide runner-up, Michigan, probably waits in Round two, and that is a tough matchup (23 percentage likelihood for Florida) — but if the Gators win, they have a 38 percent likelihood of earning the Elite Eight. In a region with a number of possibilities that are good-but-flawed, Florida appears better than the.
Player to watch: Gonzaga, Brandon Clarke The linchpin of the Zags isn’t the consensus lottery pick, nor the two guards that have started 87 percent of Gonzaga’s games . It is a move from San Jose State who’s in his first season with the group, Brandon Clarke. He is perhaps the most underappreciated player in the country.
On a team that comes with a it is Clarke. Clarke has reacted by setting a single-season blocks record and posting the highest block speed of any team under Few.
“Should I feel as when I can get a great, quick jump first, I will pretty much leap with anyone,” Clarke told me. “I mean, I have seen Zion (Williamson) coming down through the street before on TV, and if I can not jump at the ideal time, I likely would not jump , but… I don’t actually see myself not leaping with anyone.”
Likeliest first-round upsets: No. 9 Baylor over No. 8 Syracuse (48 percent); No. 10 Florida over No. 7 Nevada (42 percent); No. 12 Murray State over No. 5 Marquette (32 percent)
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