March Madness is here and the 2023 NCAA Tournament first-round action is just days away. We’ll walk you through every region, the biggest names, the best matchups, and our best bets.
We started with the East Region, so now we’ll head West.
West Region Schedule
Arizona State vs. Nevada
- Date: Wednesday, March 15, 2023
- Time: 9:10 p.m. ET
- Location: University of Dayton Arena in Dayton, Ohio
- Channel: truTV
|Thu, March 16||2:o0 p.m. ET||
No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 16 Howard
|Thu, March 16||4:30 p.m. ET||No. 8 Arkansas vs. No. 9 Illinois||TBS|
|Thu, March 16||7:35 p.m. ET||No. 7 Northwestern vs. No. 10 Boise State||TruTV|
|Thu, March 16||10:05 p.m. ET||No. 2 UCLA vs. No. 15 UNC Asheville||TruTV|
|Fri, March 17||2:o0 p.m. ET||
No. 5 Saint Mary’s vs. No. 12 VCU
|Fri, March 17||4:30 p.m. ET||No. 4 UConn vs. No. 13 Iona||TBS|
|Fri, March 17||7:35 p.m. ET||No. 3 Gonzaga vs. No. 14 Grand Canyon||TruTV|
|Fri, March 17||10:05 p.m. ET||No. 6 TCU vs. No. 11 Arizona State/Nevada||TruTV|
West Region Best Matchups
No. 8 Arkansas vs No. 9 Illinois
It’s certainly not a surprise to see an 8-9 clash come up as a good matchup, but these are two talented teams who can’t seem to decide how good they want to be. Neither team shoots particularly well, but they play fast and attack the basket, which will make for a fun clash.
Illinois is 33rd overall in KenPom’s rankings and has the 32nd-best defense thanks to its positional size and athleticism. They also have players with tons of NCAA Tournament experience, like Baylor transfer Matthew Mayer and Texas Tech transfer Terrence Shannon. Arkansas, on the other hand, is ranked 20th by KenPom and has the 16th-ranked defense. They’re led by young guards Nick Smith Jr. and Anthony Black, who have the potential to take over this game and perhaps even make Kansas nervous in the second round.
No. 4 UCONN vs No. 13 Iona
Rick Pitino is in the news more for his potential departure to coach St. John’s than his success at Iona, but make no mistake about it, the Gaels are for real. They made the NCAA tournament for the second time in Pitino’s three years, and last year’s MAAC champion, Saint Peter’s, made the Elite Eight, so this conference isn’t afraid of the big dogs. The Gaels have three players that each average over 15 points per game and will certainly be well-prepared. I’m not sure they can pull off the upset, but I think they can make UCONN uncomfortable.
No. 7 Northwestern vs No. 10 Boise State
Northwestern is another Big Ten team that’s in jeopardy of not making it out of the first round. The Wildcats are making their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2017, so they have very little big-game experience on that roster. Boise State, meanwhile, went 13-5 in a good Mountain West Conference and boasts a defense that ranks 14th in KenPom’s efficiency metric. That could be a problem for a nervous Northwestern team without many big-time scorers.
West Region Best Players
Mike Miles – Guard, TCU
Miles is one of the more dynamic point guards in the country, averaging 17.3 points, 2.8 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and 1.2 steals. While the stats may not blow you away, Miles is the engine for a TCU team that is explosive in transition. When he is at his best, and this team is playing fast, they are tough to beat.
Drew Timme – Center, Gonzaga
It feels like Timme has been in college forever, but he remains one of the best big men in the country. This season, he averaged 20.9 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per game while shooting 62.4% from the field. He is a veteran who has been here before and will be ready to put this team on his back if need be.
Jalen Wilson – Forward, Kansas
Wilson was the Big 12 Player of the Year and is one of the few players returning from last year’s national championship team. He averaged 20.0 points and 8.5 rebounds a game while playing strong defense for the Jayhawks. He’s likely the highest-profile player in the region and rightfully so.
West Region Pick to Advance
They are KenPom’s 8th-ranked team in the country, which is the best of any team in the region, and they have the nation’s best offense, according to the KenPom adjusted offense metric. They enter the tournament off of a highly impressive 26-point drubbing of Saint Mary’s in the WCC title game and appear to be firing on all cylinders. It also helps them that their biggest competition, UCLA, is dealing with the loss of star wing Jaylen Clark and won’t be at 100%.