UCLA, Gonzaga, San Diego State carry the West into the Sweet 16

We can admit that the Pac-12 wasn’t very good in men’s basketball this season. Only one team got out of the first round. Arizona looked really bad against Princeton. We saw USC’s and Arizona State’s limitations emerge in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

The Mountain West wasn’t very good, either. Utah State, Boise State, and Nevada all got outplayed in decisive NCAA Tournament first-game losses.

Saint Mary’s won one game for the WCC but then got outclassed by UConn in the second round on Sunday. SMC had a decent season but did not measure up to the big boys. The Gaels will need more time to develop into something bigger and better.

West Coast college basketball wasn’t deep this season. We can admit that. None of the three main Western conferences — the Pac-12, the Mountain West, or the WCC — were particularly deep. The Pac-12 sent only four teams to the NCAA Tournament, and two of those four teams were double-digit seeds, one of them a First Four team. The Mountain West and Pac-12 both had just one team in the Round of 32. The WCC had a great 2022, with San Francisco making the NCAA Tournament in addition to Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s, but USF regressed this season. The year did not bring forth everything these conferences hoped for.

However, while none of these Western conferences were deep, their champions were — and are — very good.

UCLA, Gonzaga, and San Diego State all won their conferences. UCLA and SDSU won them outright, while Gonzaga split the WCC with Saint Mary’s. Those three teams all advanced to the Sweet 16 over the weekend. UCLA and Gonzaga meet in the West Regional semifinal in Las Vegas, arguably the best matchup of the entire Sweet 16.

UCLA’s defense, Gonzaga’s offense with Drew Timme, and San Diego State’s toughness carried these three programs into the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament. Either UCLA or Gonzaga will reach the Elite Eight. These are examples of conferences not being good, but teams in these conferences transcending their situations and being strong teams on their own merits.

Read More: UCLA, Gonzaga, San Diego State carry the West into the Sweet 16 2023-03-20 16:14:03

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