Expect Gonzaga at the Final Four
by David Leon Moore, USA TODAY Sports
Best round of 64 matchup: No. 5 seed Wisconsin vs. No. 12 seed Mississippi. Ole Miss came out of bubble-land in the last week to make a run in the Southeastern Conference tournament and upset Florida in the final. As usual, the Rebels were led by sharpshooter Marshall Henderson. Marshall averages an even 20 points a game and hasn’t been held under 20 since a March 2 loss to Mississippi State. Unfortunately for Marshall and Ole Miss, they run into a team that just doesn’t lose first-round tournament games. Look it up: the Badgers have won first-round games in 10 of the last 11 NCAA tournaments and have made it to the Sweet 16 in the last two. They don’t have any fancy numbers — leading scorer is junior guard Ben Brust at 11.4 points a game — but they’ve beaten No. 1 seed Indiana and No. 4 seed Michigan.
Potential upset: No. 11 Belmont over No. 6 Arizona. Is Belmont the best basketball program in the country never to have won an NCAA tournament game? This is the sixth NCAA appearance for Belmont since 2006, but its record stands at 0-5. Maybe they can end their losing streak in this one, and not just because they have a nickname — Bruins — that has beaten Arizona three times this year, all courtesy of UCLA. Belmont senior guard Ian Clark — 18.1 points a game, 46.3% from beyond the arc — is the kind of three-point marksman that can give Arizona fits.
The sleeper: Well, how ’bout two wins for the Bruins? Belmont coach Rick Byrd is just the man to find a way to get his sharpshooters past Arizona and then No. 3 New Mexico and into the Sweet 16.
The winner: The Chalk — No.1 Gonzaga vs. No. 2 Ohio State — just might hold up in the West Regional final to be played in Staples Center in Los Angeles. This would be a great matchup between two teams seemingly capable of going the distance to the title. Gonzaga takes its cue from 7-foot center Kelly Olynyk (17.5 points and 7.2 … [For more on West Regional: Expect Gonzaga at the Final Four, click here.]