West Region Preview

Syracuse stumbled in the Big East Tournament, but as the No. 1 seed in the West region they have at least one win in the bag at the Big Dance.

Syracuse opens up the tournament with a first-round matchup against the Vermont Catamounts as an 18-point favorite at Bovada. Oddly enough there is some history between the Orange and the Catamounts.

Back in the 2005 tournament Syracuse and Vermont met up in the first round when the Orange were a No 4 seed and the Catamounts a No. 13 seed. Vermont pulled off a shocking 60-57 upset. Another win by Vermont this season would be even more shocking.

ADVERTISEMENT: SYRACUSE HAS MUCH TO PROVE AFTER LOSING THE BIG EAST TOURNAMENT BUT ARE THEY VULNERABLE HERE AS 18-POINT CHALK? ONLY 56% OF PEOPLE BETTING THIS GAME ON THE POINT SPREAD AT Sportsbook.ag ARE ON THE ORANGE.

As long as the Orange don’t completely stumble in the first round they’ll move on the face the winner of No. 8 Gonzaga vs. No. 9 Florida State in the next round. The Bulldogs may be the higher seed, but they’re a 1.5-point underdog at Bovada.. The Bulldogs made it to the Sweet 16 in last year’s tournament, while the Seminoles haven’t won a tournament game since 1998.

The No. 2 seed in the West, Kansas State takes on No. 15 North Texas in the opening round. This one looks like another blowout with the Wildcats listed as a 16-point favorite. North Texas is the Sun Belt champion and they have won 11 straight, but in their lone game this season against a ranked opponent they were beaten by Texas A&M 75-65.

The second-round opponent for Kansas State will be the winner of No. 7 BYU vs. No. 10 Florida. The Gators were a controversial tourney pick for some experts and they’re a 5-point underdog against the Cougars.

This is the Gators’ first tournament appearance since their back-to-back championships in 2006 and 2007. The Cougars are in the tournament for the fourth straight season, but in those three previous attempts they failed to get out of the opening round.

The No. 12 vs. No. 5 seed in the West pits UTEP against Butler. The Bulldogs enter the tourney on a 20-game winning streak after a perfect season in the Horizon League. Not surprisingly they’re a 2.5-point favorite vs. the Miners at Bovada. Don’t immediately count out the Miners, though. Before a loss to Houston in the Conference USA Tournament final UTEP had won 16 in a row and have a proven scorer in Randy Culpepper that could be the catalyst to an upset.

Another possible upset in the West is No. 6 Xavier vs. No. 11 Minnesota. The Golden Gophers are actually the oddsmakers’ choice in this matchup as a 1-point favorite at Bovada. Minnesota was another surprising choice to be in the tournament and likely earned their way in by making it to the final of the Big Ten Tournament.

>P>Xavier has gone on some good runs in the tournament recently with a trip to the Sweet 16 last year and the Elite Eight in 2008, so taking them on the money line in the opening round might be a smart bet.

Rounding out the rest of the opening round games in the West is No. 3 Pittsburgh (-10) vs. Oakland and No. 4 Vanderbilt (-3) vs. No. 13 Murray State.

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