NCAA Tournament West Region Picks: Oregon, Oklahoma To Plow Open Field

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March 14, 2016

The West Region of the NCAA Tournament might be the most open and unpredictable of them all.

Some teams that make up the field contain stars, while others can form a unit that is greater than the sum of their parts when things are clicking on the court.

On paper, top-seeded Oregon and No. 2 seed Oklahoma are the best of the bunch. The other leading teams have flaws and appear vulnerable.

Here are picks for all the East regional games.

FIRST ROUND
No. 1 Oregon over No. 16 play-in winner
Oregon should stroll past either Holy Cross or Southern. Such is the nature of games like these and the fates of play-in winners in the face of top seeds.

No. 9 Cincinnati over No. 8 St. Joseph’s
The Bearcats’ defense is one of the best in the country. That should be good enough to stop the Hawks’ return to the Big Dance in their tracks.

No. 5 Baylor over No. 12 Yale
Baylor’s impressive offense should drown out the Yale fans, who could travel in droves from New Haven, Conn., to Providence, R.I., with early buckets.

No. 4 Duke over No. 13 UNC Wilmington
The Seahawks have won 17 of their last 19, but Duke will be rested, focused and have something to prove, following its quarterfinal exit from the ACC Tournament.

No. 6 Texas over No. 11 Northern Iowa
Don’t expect the red-hot Panthers to make another surprise appearance in the second round. Texas plays fine defense, and head coach Shaka Smart knows a thing or two about engineering, and presumably avoiding, upsets.

No. 3 Texas A&M over No. 14 Green Bay
The Aggies have recovered their best form after suffering through a mid-season rut. Green Bay returns to the NCAA Tournament after a 20-year absence, but the Phoenix won’t rise very high.

No. 10 Virginia Commonwealth over No. 7 Oregon St.
Gary Payton Jr.’s all-around excellence won’t be enough for the Beavers to avoid an upset at the hands of the experienced and resilient Rams, whose pressure defense will cause “havoc.”

No. 2 Oklahoma over No. 15 Cal-State Bakersfield
Cal State’s defense is good, but Oklahoma has too much talent and depth to fall to the Roadrunners.

SECOND ROUND
No. 1 Oregon over No. 9 Cincinnati
The Bearcats will play the Ducks closely, but Oregon’s pedigree and crowd support in Spokane, Wash., should take it to the Sweet 16.

No. 4 Duke over No. 5 Baylor
Duke could benefit if freshmen Grayson Allen and Brandon Ingram find their tournament groove. Both could happen in the teams’ second game, giving Duke the edge.

No. 6 Texas over No. 3 Texas A&M
Form will go out the window when these in-state rivals meet in Oklahoma City, Okla. The Longhorns’ defense and the Aggies’ rebounding woes might combine to produce a Texas-sized upset.

No. 2 Oklahoma over No. 10 Virginia Commonwealth
Oklahoma’s three-headed back-court monster of Isaiah Cousins, Buddy Hield and Jordan Woodard will have found their rhythm and be too much for VCU to handle.

SWEET 16
No. 1 Oregon over No. 4 Duke
The Ducks’ depth and recent big-game experience should give them the edge over the Blue Devils, who lack both.

No. 2 Oklahoma over No. 6 Texas
The Sooners will claim bragging rights over their rivals to the south with a balanced approach, while the Longhorns’ offense struggles.

ELITE EIGHT
No. 2 Oklahoma over No. 1 Oregon
Hield, one of the best players in the country, will rise to the occasion and deliver his team to the promised land.

Click for an East region preview and picks >>

Click for a South region preview and picks >>

Click for a Midwest Region preview and picks >>

Click for a printable bracket >>

Thumbnail photo via Kyle Terada/USA TODAY Sports Images

Thumbnail photo via Oregon top seed in NCAA Tournament West Region.
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