All quiet on the Western front. As big a day as the tournament saw yesterday, there were not any real upsets in the West Region. Unless 9-seed Florida State winning against 8-seed Missouri counts as an upset, it really does not. Comparatively, seeing history being made as 16-seed UMBC defeated 1-seed Virginia eliminates any notable upset occurring in any bracket. Although, with only the favorites moving on, there are destined to be some shake-ups coming.
NCAA Tournament: Storylines from Round 1 in the West Region
Gonzaga and North Carolina on a Collision Course
The match-up from last years National Championship could potentially happen in the finals of the West region. Both teams have a tough match-up in the second round, but also have an easy path until they potentially meet each other. Gonzaga takes on 5-seed Ohio State and North Carolina takes on 7-seed Texas A&M. Yet, we have already seen historic upsets occur and nobody should be looking past any team in this region.
Michigan’s Streak Continues
The last time Michigan lost a game was February 6th to unranked Northwestern. They were sitting at a record of 19-7 and have not lost since then. Entering the NCAA tournament at a 28-7 record and the Big Ten title, Michigan is poised as a real threat. In yesterday’s game, however, they started off with a 0-10 scoring deficit early. The Wolverines came together and established a lead at halftime that led to a dominant 14-point win.
This hot streak looks to continue against 6-seed Houston, who has not been to the tournament since a first-round exit in 2010. Michigan will look to create havoc in the backcourt against talented point guard Rob Gray and limit his productivity. In the past ten games, Michigan has held opposing point guards to 10.8 points and a measly 34.9 shot percentage. If that trend keeps up, the Wolverines should have no problem moving on to the next round.
Texas A&M Aggies Hold on After Slow Start
With 13 minutes and 27 seconds left in the first half, guard Aaron Gilder made two free throws to put Texas A&M on the board for the first time in the game. 10-seed Providence was coming off a defeat in the Big East Championship to 1-seed Villanova and had no intentions of letting Texas A&M back easily. Yet, the Aggies rallied for the lead at halftime and a 12-2 run in the second half drove home the victory. A great show of teamwork and coming together under pressure is remarkable, but also teaching moment.
The next test will not be so forgiving as they face the 2-seed and defending Champion North Carolina. The play in the second half has to be repeated throughout the course of the game if the Aggies hope to advance to the Sweet Sixteen.
The West region is set to feature best-seeded match-ups as nearly all top seeds advanced. Although not as exciting as seeing the underdogs win, it still shows a remarkable success in the eyes of the selection committee as it would appear this region was selected nearly perfect.