UCLA, Kansas on the Elite Eight collision course in the Western Region?

In theory, the West Zone has always been considered the toughest route to the Finals.

The bottom right part of the frame is dotted with NCAA Tournament strongmen, including three of the top six favorites, matched a regional set held in Las Vegas.

[View the full NCAA Tournament bracket here]

It’s perhaps not surprising then that although the opening Thursday of March Madness was filled with shocks across the country, the four games in the West were nothing more than chalk on the board.

The gridline may have a glimmer of hope, as it’s still on track to give us some green blood in a bump in the second weekend of the tournament.

While seed number 1 Houston struggling to leave Northern Kentucky down in Birmingham, one Kansas the team is annoyed that they won’t be going to Kansas City next week as the top seed of the Midwest, apparently taking down the poor 16th seed Howardbeat Bison with the most complete match of the day with a 96-68 win.

“We like to play fast,” said head coach Norm Roberts. “They went up and down and we knew if we could return the ball – which we didn’t Great work of the day — but if we bounce the ball back, we can get out and have some chances. That happened today.”

The Jayhawks knocked down their opponent more than 9 bounces, despite a below-average effort across the board. Jalen Wilson had the highest 20 in the team, while the freshman High end dick picked a good time to get the first double of his career with 19 points and 11 rebounds.

Who knows, if Vice President Kamala Harris hadn’t been in Des Moines to watch her alma mater or head coach Bill Self had wandered off the sidelines, the final score could have tipped even further when The Jayhawks cleared their bench at the end of the second half and remained 15 points ahead of Bison in the final 20 minutes.

Myself, who went through a procedure to treat blocked arteries in his heart before the Big 12 Tournament last week, he was with the team away from the field and said in an interview with a student reporter that he was leaning towards returning to Round 32. The Kansas players, who were found out on Thursday morning that the coach won’t be on the sidelines, barely breaking a sweat without him, but still likely to get a few drop-glasses reminders on Saturday.

“He’s fulfilling the doctor’s wishes, and hopefully we come back and hear from him the first thing he liked about there and what he didn’t like,” Dick added.

Despite that, the impressive effort in reaching the second round for the 16th year in a row underscores that the team has as good a chance to repeat as national champions in the sport as any other team. in the decade and a half since it was completed.

The match against the number 8 Arkansas will almost certainly prove to be a much harder test. The Razorbacks have faced injuries throughout their season but there are at least three players who attract serious interest from NBA scouts and show impressive determination to outlast the No. Illinois 73-63 later in the afternoon.

Arkansas head coach Eric Musselman commented, “This is a team that is still growing and I said even before the tournament that I feel this is a team that is continuing to improve. “I mean, we talk about daily improvement. We work every day to try to be better. There have been other teams that have achieved consistent results. Maybe some of our teams at Nevada, we’re veterans and maybe at some point we’re just trying to save our feet. But this is a team that is constantly improving.”

That continuous improvement needs to turn into rapid improvement if ‘Hogs is to make a two-day shock to win the show’s third consecutive landing in Sweet 16. Council of Ricky IV scored an 18-point, 10-rebound double against Illini, but he missed a few easy shots that could have given his team more space. protect colleagues Nick Smith Jr. can only focus six points when shooting 2 out of 10, while Black Anthony only marginally better with 12 points in a similarly difficult opening match.

However, there’s a reason why the Jayhawks’ path has been a tough one, currently attracting a team with the talent to reach their pre-season top 10 — but have failed to show it. it consistently.

Elsewhere in the West area, No. 7 northwest reaffirms why Chris Collins’ veteran crew will be a tough match in the future. Wildcats overcame the 11th seed Bang Boise75-67.

“It’s all about survival and progress, isn’t it? That’s what they say about March Madness,” Collins said after winning the show’s second opening round. “It’s really hard to get here, especially when you’re playing in the Big Ten. What we compete in our conference, 14 teams, night after night, games you have to win to get there. here. No relief at all. It’s fun. I’m so proud of this team. I’ve been saying that all year.”

Boo Boo lead with 22 points, while backcourt mate Chasing Audige chipped with another 20.

Wildcats, in the second Big Dance in school history, will go on to face a future conference opponent in second seed UCLA. The Bruins seem to have relieved many of their frustrations when they lost in the Pac-12 Tournament Finals when they were underpowered UNC-Asheville in the 86-53 game in Sacramento. The 33-point win shows why UCLA is a trendy pick to win all year, despite the top defender’s absence Jaylen Clark.

Jaime Jaquez Jr. looks comfortable getting 17 points in just 30 minutes of action, while the freshman Amari Bailey chipped with a 17 and four matching board. The Bruins were excellent from the start, opening the game 14-0 and totaling as many goals as were taken as UNC-Asheville made efforts at a less than four-hour timeout in the first half. .

“We don’t really look at the scores,” Bruins head coach Mick Cronin said on the broadcast that followed. “We try to play every game the same way. Our defense was excellent and we had a really good start.”

Such is life in the West, however, which has reaffirmed that the eventual regional champion will be more challenged than any other team this March, with every top seed moving in. Second round on Saturday.

You don’t always get the first taste of the action and get the feeling that two of the bluest bloods are engaged in a collision, but that’s exactly what follows. out in an exciting opening round for one region and one region only.

Bryan Fischer is a college football writer for FOX Sports. He’s covered college athletics for nearly two decades at agencies like NBC Sports, CBS Sports, Yahoo! Sports and among others. Follow him on Twitter at @BryanDFischer.

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