From 68 to 16: March Madness 2017 First Weekend Primer

6 of 17

West Region

Pod #1 – Salt Lake City, Utah

Colors Location Record RPI
#1 Gonzaga Bulldogs Navy, White, Red Spokane, WA 32-1 8
#8 Northwestern Wildcats Purple, White Evanston, IL 23-11 49
#9 Vanderbilt Commodores Black, Old Gold Nashville, TN 19-15 38
#16 South Dakota State Jackrabbits Blue, Yellow Brookings, SD 18-16 155

#1 Gonzaga vs. #16 South Dakota State — Thursday, 2:00 p.m., TBS

Line: Gonzaga (-18)

FiveThirtyEight: Gonzaga (98%)

If there’s going to be a #16 seed that wins a game this year, the Jackrabbits are your best bet. If Mike Daum, who averages 25.3 points and 8.2 rebounds per game, has the game of his life, then maybe, maybe, South Dakota State can pull off the greatest upset in tournament history. Gonzaga won its first 29 games before losing to BYU, average a 23.4-point margin of victory, and won all six of their games against tournament teams.

#8 Northwestern vs. #9 Vanderbilt —Thursday, 4:30 p.m., TBS

Line: Vanderbilt (-4)

FiveThirtyEight: Vanderbilt (55%)

Did you hear that Northwestern is in the tournament for the first time? You have? Oh, okay. The Wildcats struggled down the stretch, winning five of their last 12 games. Vanderbilt might not be here at all if it weren’t for the existence of Florida and its number, which the Commodores seemed to have all season long. Vanderbilt lost 15 games during the season, but won seven of their last nine and got a higher seed than most anticipated despite their difficult schedule.

Second Round Outlook

Neither Northwestern nor Vanderbilt appears to be a team that will make a deep run in the tournament. Both have experience against good teams, having played in power conferences, but they both also have double-digit losses. Gonzaga is clearly the best team in this pod and should advance to the Sweet 16.