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NCCAB West: Upsets the rule of thumb in this region

Just sixteen teams remain in the NCAA tournament with another round of games Thursday and Friday that will whittle the field to its Elite Eight.

The two semifinal games to be played in the West region are tossups, just as the entire bracket has been from the start. With upsets galore and surprise finishes, there is a mix of talented teams left in the regional.

Those that went home early from the tournament were the nation’s No. 1 team Gonzaga. The Bulldogs won their first round matchup but could not defeat Wichita State in the second round. New Mexico, ranked No. 3 in the bracket was defeated by Harvard in the first round.

Then Kansas State along with Wisconsin the 4 and 5 seeds respectively, were eliminated from the tournament during the first round.

Those teams remaining for the tournament’s second weekend include the No. 2 seed the Ohio State Buckeyes. Arizona, the No. 6 seed coming into the tournament, withstood two tough games the first weekend to make it to the Sweet 16. In addition, Wichita State ranked No. 9 in the tournament continues towards a Final Four pairing.

The fourth and final team left in the West region is LaSalle. Seeded No. 13, the Explorers advanced to the round of 16 by winning three games in just six days. The Explorers took out Boise State, they then upset highly favored Kansas State and followed that by sending home upstart Mississippi.

The highest two seeds remaining in the West region will matchup on Thursday with Ohio State facing Arizona. Ohio State has a very tough defense, while on offense they rely on the 19 points per game of DeShaun Thomas. For the Wildcats Mark Lyon, who transferred from Xavier leads the offense.

Thomas has scored over 20 points in both of the first two games last weekend. If Thomas is able to score over 20 and the Buckeyes defense can slow down Lyon, it will be hard for Arizona to win. Ohio State has won 10 straight games coming into this matchup.

The second game on Thursday’s schedule in the West region features the No. 9 seeded Wichita State Shockers versus LaSalle ranked No. 13. One of those teams is assured a visit to the Elite Eight.

The Shockers are a big, physical team that will attempt to exploit the huge size advantage they will have down low. LaSalle has a small lineup, but it is skilled and very quick offensively, but sacrifices some due to size on defense. This matchup is quickness versus power and the team that exploits its particular advantage best will be the team that reaches the Elite Eight.

Look for Ohio State to play Wichita State in the final of the West Region on Saturday after defeating Arizona and LaSalle respectively. The winner of that matchup will then move on to the Final Four.

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