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Adam Jude | Seattle Times | March 16, 2016

March Madness: What to watch inside the West region

Team Confidential: Oregon best in the West

That Oregon was awarded the No. 1 seed in the West ranked as one of the bigger surprises on Selection Sunday. It's the Ducks' first No. 1 seed ever. The committee showed more love for the Beaver State -- and the Pac-12 -- by giving Oregon State the West's No. 7 seed. It's the Beavers' first NCAA berth since 1990, Gary Payton's final season in Corvallis. His son, Gary Payton II, has helped lead OSU's revival.


OREGON: The Ducks, who won the Pac-12 regular-season and tournament titles, have won eight in a row, including an 88-57 rout of Utah in the conference championship game Saturday.

Men's Basketball: Oregon cruises past Utah
OKLAHOMA: With national player of the year front-runner Buddy Hield, the Sooners have the look of a Final Four team.

TEXAS A&M: The rugged Aggies have the SEC's top-ranked defense, and if they can get past Wisconsin-Green Bay, they could have an intriguing round-of-32 matchup against former Big 12 rival Texas in Oklahoma City.


OREGON STATE: Somewhere, Ralph Miller is smiling. In his second season as the Beavers' coach, Wayne Tinkle has done what for so long seemed impossible: Get the Beavers back to the NCAA tournament. The Beavers open against 10th-seeded VCU in Oklahoma City on Friday.

YALE: The Ivy League champion Bulldogs won't have to go far for their first NCAA tournament game since 1962; they'll get to stay in the Northeast for their matchup against Baylor in Providence, Rhode Island. And Yale, which has one of the nation's stingiest defenses, figures to be a popular 12-over-5 upset pick in many brackets.

UNC WILMINGTON: Because they're playing Duke, the Seahawks are suddenly America's favorite team. It's best to ignore the Seahawks' resume, which features victories over the likes of Milligan College and Coker, and a loss to Radford.

Headed for a fall

DUKE: The team everyone loves to hate has its lowest seed since 2007. As a No. 6 seed that year, the Blue Devils were upset by VCU in the first round.

Star power

Hield: The senior guard from the Bahamas did his best Steph Curry impression Friday in the Big 12 semifinals, hitting a half-court shot to beat West Virginia in dramatic fashion. Or so the Sooners thought. After review, officials ruled Hield released his shot a split-second late, giving the Mountaineers the win. Hield, second in the nation with 25.0 points per game, should be plenty motivated heading into the NCAA tourney.

Payton: This ought to sound familiar to Sonics fans: The Glove's son was named the Pac-12's defensive player of the year for the second year in a row, leading the conference with 2.5 steals per game while earning the nickname "The Mitten." He's also averaging 15.9 points, 7.9 rebounds and 5.1 assists.

Cagiest coach

Dana Altman, Oregon: In a region with Mike Krzyzewski, everyone else pales in comparison. But Altman just won his third Pac-12 coach of the year award, and the Ducks are as hot as any team in the nation.

Best players you might not have heard of

Chris Flemmings, UNC Wilmington: The story goes that the 6-5 guard only got a chance to join the Seahawks after his mom visited campus and inquired about an opening on the team. Now Flemmings is Wilmington's best all-around player, averaging 16.1 points and 5.9 rebounds.

Dedrick Basile, Cal State Bakersfield: The transfer from Trinity Valley Community College in Texas hit a buzzer-beating three to knock off New Mexico State, 57-54, in the WAC championship game and give the Roadrunners their first NCAA berth.

Charles Cooper, Green Bay: The 6-4 guard had 24 points in the Phoenix's semifinal upset of Valparaiso, then added 15 in a victory over Wright State in the Horizon League championship game, sending Green Bay to its first NCAA appearance in 20 years.

This article was written by Adam Jude from Seattle Times and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.


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