This article is part of our NCAA Tournament Preview series.
What the West Region lacks in star power, it makes up for with excellent team play. Of the 15 players mentioned in the USA Today All-American team, the West Region is represented by just two: a second-teamer (Trevon Bluiett) and a third-teamer (Luke Maye). The three- and four-seeds, Michigan and Gonzaga, are egalitarian in nature, while Keita Bates-Diop of the Ohio State Buckeyes or possibly Mike Daum of South Dakota State may be the best individual talents. In terms of NBA talent, Michael Porter Jr. represents the best bet for a lottery pick in the region, but he will be playing in just his third game of the season due to a back injury.
No. 1 Xavier Musketeers
Seniors Trevon Bluiett and J.P. Macura have played in the NCAA Tournament in each of their previous three seasons with the Musketeers. This year, they added regular season Big East champions to their many accolades. Xavier was unable to beat Villanova and lost to Providence twice, but they are a solid team up and down the lineup. Bluiett and Macura are excellent two-way wings, Kerem Kanter gave the team a low-post presence, and the team has solid role players such as Naji Marshall, Kaiser Gates, and point guard Quentin Goodin.
No. 2 North Carolina Tar Heels
The defending national champions did not rest on their laurels in 2017-18. They were arguably the second best team in the ACC behind Virginia and