2019 NCAA Tournament West region breakdown: Gonzaga is team to beat
Will it be Michigan and Gonzaga fighting for a spot in the Final Four?
The Gonzaga Bulldogs are the team to beat in the West region.
The 16 squads are hoping to emerge from the four first-round sites and make it to the second weekend in Anaheim, Calif.
Here’s a team-by-team breakdown of all 18 teams in the West.
1. Gonzaga Bulldogs
Record: 30-3, 16-0, first in regular season in WCC, lost in conference tournament final. NET: 2.
Coach: Mark Few (20th season, 565-121, 28-19 NCAA).
Best win: 89-87 vs. Duke, Nov. 21 in Maui.
Worst loss: 60-47 vs. St. Mary’s in the WCC final, March 12.
Three-pointers: 36.5 percent. Free throws: 76.7 percent.
TOP THREE: F Rui Hachimura, 6-8, Jr.: 20.1 ppg., 6.6 rpg.; F Brandon Clarke, 6-8, Jr.: 16.5 ppg., 8.4 rpg.; G Zach Norvell Jr., 6-5, R-So.: 15.3 ppg., 3.0 apg.
Gonzaga leads the NCAA in scoring, 88.8 points per game. … Senior Josh Perkins is second in the WCC in assists, averaging 6.5 per game. … Hachimura was named the WCC player of the year. … Joining Hachimura on the 10-man all-WCC first team were Clarke, Norvell, and Perkins. …Few was named the WCC coach of the year for the 13th time. … Clarke was the WCC defensive player of the year.
16. Fairleigh Dickinson Knights
Record: 20-13, 12-6 Northeast Conference, tied for 1st, NET: 203.
Coach: Greg Herenda (12th season, 187-177; 80-107 in six seasons at Fairleigh Dickinson, 0-1 NCAA).
Best win: 77-66 vs. Princeton, Nov. 21.
Worst loss: 103-96 vs. Central Connecticut State, Jan. 10.
Three-pointers: 40.4 percent. Free throws: 73.2 percent.
TOP THREE: G Darnell Edge, 6-2, Sr., 16.4 ppg.; G Jahlil Jenkins, 6-0, So., 13.5 ppg.; 4.5 apg., F Mike Holloway Jr., 6-8, Sr., 12.5 ppg., 5.5 rpg.
The Knights won their last eight games, and defeated St. Francis (Pa.) on the road in the conference championship game to reach the NCAAs for the second time since 2016.
16. Prairie View A&M Panthers
Record: 18-12, 17-1 Southwestern Athletic Conference, 1st. NET: 209.
Coach: Byron Smith (Fourth season, 53-56, 0-0 NCAA).
Best win: 81-64 vs. Santa Clara, Nov. 9.
Worst loss: 76-64 vs. East Carolina, Nov. 21.
Three-pointers: 30.7 percent. Free throws: 67.6 percent.
TOP THREE: G Gary Blackston, 6-2, Sr., 15.1 ppg., 7.2 rpg.; F Devonte Patterson, 6-7, Jr., 13.1 ppg., 4.7 rpg.; G Dennis James, 6-1, R-Sr., 8.6 ppg., 4.6 apg.
The Panthers won with a defense that forced 18.1 turnovers per game (fourth in the nation) with a turnover margin of 5.3 (second). … They limited opponents to 31.1 percent on threes but averaged just 6.1 a game on offense.
8. Syracuse Orange
Record: 20-13, 10-8 ACC, tied for 6th. NET: 44.
Coach: Jim Boeheim (43rd season, 945-383, 60-32 NCAA).
Best win: 95-91 (OT) at Duke, Jan. 14
Worst loss: 73-59 vs. Georgia Tech, Jan. 12
Three-pointers: 32.3 percent. Free throws: 68.3 percent.
TOP THREE: G Tyus Battle, 6-6, Jr., 17.2 ppg.; F Elijah Hughes, 6-6, Jr., 13.4 ppg.; F Oshae Brissett, 6-8, So., 12.6 ppg., 7.5 rpg.
The Orange used their trademark zone to play fine defense throughout the season, ranking in the top 20 nationally in field-goal percent defense (39.5) and posting a plus-3.35 turnover margin. … Battle, who entered his name for the NBA draft after last season but came back, connected on just 31.5 percent from three-point range.
9. Baylor Bears
Record: 19-12, 10-8 Big 12, fourth. NET: 36.
Coach: Scott Drew (17th season, 337-218; 317-207 in 16 seasons at Baylor; 10-7 NCAA).
Best win: 73-62 vs. Texas Tech, Jan. 19.
Worst loss: 59-58 vs. Stephen F. Austin, Dec. 18.
Three-pointers: 33.9 percent. Free throws: 67.3 percent.
TOP THREE: G Makal Mason, 6-1, Sr., 14.5 ppg., 3.2 apg.; G/F Mark Vital, 6-5, So., 6.9 ppg.; 7.2 rpg., G Jared Butler, 6-3, Fr., 10.3 ppg., 3.1 rpg.
The Bears were second in the Big 12 during the regular season in rebounding (38.1 per game). … Forward Tristan Clark, who averaged 14.6 points and 6.3 rebounds in 14 games, is out for the season with a left knee injury. … The Bears were third in the Big 12 in scoring defense, allowing 66.7 points per game. .. Mason was a second-team all-Big 12 selection. … He is a transfer from Yale and, in 2016, he scored 31 points in a 79-75 win over Baylor in the NCAA Tournament.
5. Marquette Golden Eagles
Record: 23-8, 12-6 Big East, 2nd. NET: 29.
Coach: Steve Wojciechowski (Fifth season, 96-67, all at Marquette; 0-1 NCAA).
Best win: 74-69 vs. Wisconsin, Dec. 8.
Worst loss: 86-84 vs. Georgetown, March 9.
Three-pointers: 39.4 percent. Free throws: 76.4 percent.
TOP THREE: G Markus Howard, 5-11, Jr., 25.0 ppg.; F Sam Hauser, 6-8, Jr., 14.8 ppg., 7.1 rpg.; F Joey Hauser, 6-9, R-Fr., 9.8 ppg., 5.3 rpg.
The Golden Eagles rose as high as No. 10 in the AP poll but lost their last four regular-season contests. … Their three-point percentage ranked ninth in the nation. … Howard, the conference player of the year, ranked sixth in Division I in scoring, sixth in threes made (3.6), and ninth in free-throw shooting (90.2 percent).
12. Murray State Racers
Record: 27-4, 16-2 Ohio Valley Conference, 1st place, NET: 44
Coach: Matt McMahon (4th season, 86-41; 0-1 NCAA)
Best win: 77-65 vs. Belmont, March 9
Worst loss: 88-68 at Jacksonville State, Jan. 31
Three-pointers: 34.8 percent. Free throws: 73.8 percent
TOP THREE: G Ja Morant, So., 6-3, 24.6 ppg., 10.0 apg.; G Leroy Buchanan, Sr., 6-3, 13.0 ppg., 4.2 rpg.; G Tevin Brown, Fr., 6-5, 11.7 ppg., 4.7 rpg.
A likely top-three pick in the NBA draft, Morant has led the Racers all season. It was no different in the OVC tournament, as Morant averaged 32.5 ppg., and scored 36 points in a win over Belmont in the title game.
4. Florida State Seminoles
Record: 25-6, 13-5 ACC, 4th. NET: 19.
Coach: Leonard Hamilton (31st season, 530-424; 330-214 in 17 seasons at Florida State; 10-9 NCAA).
Best win: 73-72 vs. Purdue, Nov. 28
Worst loss: 75-62 vs. Pittsburgh, Jan. 14
Three-pointers: 33.0 percent. Free throws: 73.5 percent.
TOP THREE: F Mfiondu Kabengele, 6-10, R-So., 13.1 ppg., 5.7 rpg.; G Terance Mann, 6-7, Sr., 11.5 ppg., 6.4 rpg.; G Trent Forrest, 6-4, Jr., 9.1 ppg., 4.6 rpg., 3.8 apg.
The Seminoles made a run in last year’s NCAA Tournament, upsetting No. 1 seed Xavier and reaching the Elite Eight before losing to Michigan. … They limited the opposition to 40.5 percent shooting from the field. … Kabengele led his team in scoring despite not starting a single game and averaging 21 minutes in the regular season.
13. Vermont Catamounts
Record: 25-6, 14-2 American East, 1st place. NET: 81.
Coach: John Becker (8th season, 191-83, 1-2 NCAA)
Best win: 83-76 (2OT) vs. St. Bonaventure, Dec. 18
Worst loss: 69-61 vs. Bucknell, Nov. 25
Three-pointers: 34.6 percent. Free throws: 75.0 percent.
TOP THREE: F Anthony Lamb, 6-6, Jr., 21.2 ppg., 7.9 rpg.; G Ernie Duncan, 6-3, R-Sr., 14.2 ppg., 2.0 apg.; G Stef Smith, 6-1, So., 11.6 ppg., 4.0 rpg.
Lamb has scored 20 or more points in nine of Vermont’s last 13 games, including its America East first-round win over Maine. ... Had a career-high 42 in the Catamounts’ double-overtime win against St. Bonaventure.
6. Buffalo Bulls
Record: 28-3, 16-2 Mid-American Conference, 1st in East Division. NET: 16.
Coach: Nate Oats (Fourth season, 92-42; 1-2 NCAA).
Best win: 71-59 vs. Syracuse, Dec. 18.
Worst loss: 77-75 vs. Northern Illinois, Jan. 22.
Three-pointers: 36.6 percent. Free throws: 69.0 percent.
TOP THREE: G C.J. Massinburg, 6-3, Sr., 18.7 ppg., 6.4 rpg.; F Nick Perkins, 6-8, Sr., 16.0 ppg., 7.3 rpg.; G Jeremy Harris, 6-7, Sr., 12.6 ppg., 6.2 rpg.
The Braves return to the NCAAs one year after upsetting Arizona in the tournament’s first round. … They are fifth in the nation in scoring at 85.0 points per game and 12th in turnover margin at plus-3.9, forcing 16.0 turnovers per game. … Massinburg, the Mid-American player of the year, has reached double figures for points in all but one game this season.
11. Arizona State Sun Devils
Record: 21-9, 12-6 Pac-12, 2nd place. NET: 67
Coach: Bobby Hurley (6th season, 113-76; 71-56 in 4 seasons at Arizona State; 0-2 NCAA)
Best win: 80-76 vs. Kansas, Dec. 22
Worst loss: 91-70 vs. Washington State, Feb. 7
Three-pointers: 33.7 percent. Free throws: 66.8 percent.
TOP THREE: G Luguentz Dort, Fr., 6-4, 16.2 ppg., 4.3 rpg.; G Remy Martin, So., 6-0, 13.5 ppg., 5.2 apg.; F Zylan Cheatham, Sr., 6-8, 11.6 ppg., 10.4 rpg.
The Sun Devils have put together back-to-back 20-win seasons for the first time since 2013-14. Arizona State has six wins this season after trailing at halftime.
11. St. John’s Red Storm
Record: 20-11, 8-10 Big East, 7th. NET: 66.
Coach: Chris Mullin (Fourth season, 58-71; 0-0 NCAA).
Best win: 71-65 vs. Villanova, Feb. 17.
Worst loss: 79-71 vs. DePaul, Jan. 12.
Three-pointers: 36.8 percent. Free throws: 72.4 percent.
TOP THREE: G Shamorie Ponds, 6-1, Jr., 19.8 ppg., 4.3 rpg., 5.2 apg.; G Mustapha Heron, 6-5, Jr., 15.0 ppg.; F L.J. Figueroa, 6-6, So., 14.6 ppg., 6.3 rpg.
The Red Storm played up or down to the level of competition that left their NCAA chances in doubt at times. … They suffered from a lack of depth. … Ponds’ 2.6 steals per game were 10th in Division I.
3. Texas Tech Raiders
Record: 26-5, 14-4 Big 12, tied for first. NET: 9.
Coach: Chris Beard (fourth season, 101-34; 71-29 in three seasons at Texas Tech; 4-2 NCAA).
Best win: 91-62 vs. Kansas, Feb. 23.
Worst loss: 73-62 at Baylor, Jan. 19.
Three-pointers: 36.9 percent. Free throws: 72.3 percent.
TOP THREE: G Jarrett Culver, 6-5, So., 18.3 ppg., 6.2 rpg., 3.6 apg.; G Matt Mooney, 6-3, Sr.: 10.9 ppg., 3.2 apg.; G Davide Moretti, 6-2, So.: 11.6 ppg., 2.6 apg.
Culver was named the program’s first-ever Big 12 player of the year. … Beard was named Big 12 coach of the year for the second consecutive season. … The Red Raiders won their last nine regular-season games. … Tech was first in the Big 12 in scoring defense in the regular season, allowing 59.6 ppg. and first in turnovers forced (15.2 per game). … Culver scored a career-high 31 points with four three-pointers in the final regular-season game, an 80-73 win over Iowa State that clinched a share of the conference title.
14. Northern Kentucky Norse
Record: 26-8, 13-5 Horizon League, tied for 1st. NET: 113.
Coach: John Brannen (sixth season, 82-51; 81-50 in five seasons at Northern Kentucky; 0-1 NCAA).
Best win: 77-66 vs. Wright State, March 12.
Worst loss: 83-77 vs. Cleveland State, Feb. 23.
Three-pointers: 36.6 percent. Free throws: 66.5 percent.
TOP THREE: F Drew McDonald, 6-8, Sr., 19.1 ppg., 9.5 rpg.; G Tyler Sharpe, 6-1, Jr., 14.1 ppg.; G/F Jalen Tate, 6-6, R-So., 14.0 ppg., 4.1 apg.
The Norse are making their second NCAA appearance in three years. … They finished in the top 50 in Division I with a 79.1 point-per-game average (41st), 48.1 percent shooting from the field (23rd), and 31.3 percent three-point defense (35th). … McDonald shot 40.9 percent from three-point range and 80.1 percent on free throws.
7. Nevada Wolf Pack
Record: 28-3, 15-3 Mountain West, tied for 1st. NET: 18.
Coach: Eric Musselman (Fourth season, 109-32; 2-2 NCAA).
Best win: 72-49 vs. Utah State, Jan. 2.
Worst loss: 85-56 vs. New Mexico, Jan. 5.
Three-pointers: 35.3 percent. Free throws: 71.7 percent.
TOP THREE: G Caleb Martin, 6-7, Sr., 19.6 ppg., 5.1 rpg.; F Jordan Caroline, 6-7, Sr., 17.7 ppg., 9.6 rpg.; G Cody Martin, 6-7, Sr., 11.6 ppg., 5.1 rpg.
The Wolf Pack lost last year in the Sweet 16, but looked ahead optimistically after the Martin twins and Caroline announced they would return and not enter the NBA draft. … Caleb Martin led the team with 101 three-point baskets. … The team played just two Quadrant 1 games during the regular season, splitting with Utah State.
10. Florida Gators
Record: 17-14, 9-9 Southeastern Conference, 5th. NET: 33.
Coach: Mike White (8 years, 187-91; 86-51 in four seasons at Florida; 4-2 NCAA).
Best win: 82-77 (OT) vs. LSU, Feb. 20.
Worst loss: 61-55 vs. Georgia, March 2.
Three-pointers: 33.4 percent. Free throws: 72.1 percent.
TOP THREE: G KeVaughn Allen, 6-2, Sr., 11.9 ppg., 2.9 rpg.; G Noah Locke, 6-3, Fr., 10.2 ppg., 2.5 rpg.; G Jalen Hudson, 6-6, Sr., 8.7 ppg., 2.7 rpg.
The Gators lack offense and rank as the second-worst team in the SEC in points per game. Florida will need its leading scorers, Allen and Locke, or star freshman Andrew Nembhard to be clutch down the stretch to make a run in the tournament.
2. Michigan Wolverines
Record: 26-5, 15-5 Big Ten, 3rd. NET: 10.
Coach: John Beilein (41st season, 825-466; 274-148 in 12 seasons at Michigan; 24-12 NCAA).
Best win: 84-67 vs. North Carolina, Nov. 28.
Worst loss: 75-69 vs. Penn State, Feb. 12.
Three-pointers: 35.1 percent. Free throws: 69.4 percent.
TOP THREE: F Ignas Brezdeikis, 6-7, Fr., 15.0 ppg., 5.3 rpg.; G Jordan Poole, 6-5, So., 13.0 ppg.; G Zavier Simpson, 6-0, Jr., 9.1 ppg., 5.1 rpg., 6.3 apg.
The Wolverines are seeking a second straight Final Four appearance after losing to Villanova in last year’s national championship game. … They lead the nation in fewest turnovers (9.0 per game) and are third in scoring defense (58.8 points). … Simpson, one of the toughest point guards in the game, boasts a 3.18 assist-to-turnover ratio.
15. Montana Grizzlies
Record: 26-8, 16-4 Big Sky (first place regular season, won Big Sky Tournament). NET: 123.
Coach: Travis DeCuire (fifth season, 109-57; NCAA, 0-1).
Best win: 68-62 vs. Eastern Washington the Big Sky tournament final, March 16.
Worst loss: 77-74 OT vs. Portland State, Jan. 5.
Three-pointers: 37.8 percent. Free throws: 69.1 percent.
TOP THREE: G Ahmaad Rorie, 6-1, Sr., 15.1 ppg., 4.0 apg.; G Sayeed Pridgett, 6-5, Jr., 15.0 ppg., 5.0 rpg.; G Michael Oguine, 6-2, Sr., 13.2 ppg., 5.4 rpg.
This is the Grizzlies second straight year in the NCAA Tournament. … In the Big Sky championship win over Eastern Washington in which the Grizzlies overcame a 12-point deficit, Pridgett had a game-high 18 points. … Forward Jamar Akoh (15.5 ppg., 8.7 rpg.) has been out since February due to a knee injury. … Pridgett and Rorie were first-team all-conference selections, while Oguine was a third-team choice.