For the first time in a long time, the West is the weakest of the four regions, which should give Cincinnati fans some hope with the Bearcats looking to potentially make a run themselves. Still, that doesn't mean the region is a cakewalk by any means. Let's take a look at the West Region overall and project some outcomes.
Let's start with a look at the seedings in the Region:
Oklahoma seems to be the best team here. Oregon grabs the No. 1 seed, but they seem to lack talent in comparison to Oklahoma. Looking ahead to the West Region quarterfinals I see :
(9) Cincinnati vs (1) Oregon
(5) Baylor vs (4) Duke
(6) Texas vs (3) Texas A&M
(10) VCU vs (2) Oklahoma
As you can tell, not many upsets on my end. This pits UC against Oregon in the quarterfinals and could be one of the better games in the round. If we are looking at what Cincinnati is able to do in this tournament, the word here is potential.
I obviously have UC getting past St. Joseph. I wouldn't exactly count them out against Oregon either. Oregon has been impressive, winning the Pac-12 championship by a whopping 31 points and a winner of their last eight games. This quarterfinal game in Spokane also gives Oregon what feels to be a home-court advantage. This shouldn't be an issue for UC however, and I see them bringing the fire and setting the tone in this second round game. If UC can keep the game in a manageable situation going into the 2nd half, this could be a game to keep an eye on.
The rest of the region, I believe, will go exactly how they are seeded with Oklahoma taking out VCU and Duke beating Baylor. Oklahoma is a fantastic shooting team with a one man wrecking crew in Buddy Hield and Duke has the superior defense. I also do not see Texas being able to keep up with A&M and see them losing by 10. With that being said, here is how I have the semifinals for the West Region:
(1) Oregon vs (4) Duke
(3) Texas A&M vs (2) Oklahoma
This is where it gets tricky. There may be an Oregon hangover here with what is expected to be a heck of a game between UC and the Ducks. I think Duke will out hustle and out board Oregon in this one, but in the end I have Oregon by one possession. This game will be a tough act to follow with A&M and Oklahoma meeting for probably a primetime showdown. Buddy Hield will almost definitely put on a show in this one, and I see Oklahoma taking this game quite easily providing very important momentum going forward.
Here we are. The West Region Finals.
(1) Oregon vs (2) Oklahoma
I'm not defending the committee here, but I think they got this one right. The Selection Sunday disaster did not make this an entertaining selection process either, but I have Oklahoma taking this one for the West. Oregon keeps it close, but Oklahoma is just the more talented team here.
There you have it. Cincinnati sits in arguably the weakest region of the Tournament, giving them a chance to make some noise, starting with Friday's game against Saint Joseph's.