Six first round games feature major conference teams facing off against mid-majors, and that number could go up to seven if BYU defeats Ole Miss in their First Four game. The West is full of mid-majors who could pull off an upset or two but with some really strong power conference teams at the top, this isn't where you want to start a Cinderella run.
Favorite: Arizona Wildcats
The Wildcats might not be the favorite according to their seed but they're the two and they'll be in Pac-12 country for each game they play. They've only lost three times this season — at UNLV, at Oregon State and at Arizona State — and all three came by four points or less. Ten wins this season over tournament teams, highlighted by a victory over two seed Gonzaga, prove Sean Miller's squad is more than prepared to face high level competition. Senior point guard T.J. McConnell runs the show for the Wildcats, his job is made easy by the massive amount of talent around him. Super-athletic freshman Stanley Johnson (14.1 points per game, 6.6 rebounds per game) takes over a quarter of the team's shots but is better on the defensive end of the floor than he is trying to score. Junior forward Brandon Ashley, fresh off being named MVP of the Pac-12 Tournament, has been on a tear this month.
The Wildcats are a veteran bunch who have made deep runs in the NCAA Tournament before. This year they've got a shot to do it again, and pick up some redemption on the way. Ohio State, which knocked Arizona out of the 2013 tournament in the sweet sixteen, and Wisconsin, which slid past the Wildcats by a single point in overtime in the 2014 elite eight, are both out West with the Wildcats.
Darkhorse: Oregon Ducks
The Ducks earned an eight seed thanks to a late season surge which saw them lose only to UCLA, at Pauley Pavilion, and Arizona, in the Pac-12 title game. Oregon's offense is one of the most efficient in the nation, 16th best according to KenPom. Senior guard Joseph Young won Pac-12 Player of the Year and is capable of single-handedly taking over a game. His cold-blooded, NBA range three in the final seconds of the Pac-12 semis sealed up a 67-64 victory over Utah.
Best First Round Upset: Wofford Terriers
It's a 12 vs. 5 game so it's not exactly the most radical pick for an upset but it's really, really reasonable. The Southern Conference champs get an opponent from the South in the Arkansas Razorbacks of the SEC. Arkansas is fast and Wofford is slow as molasses. The Terriers will need to control the tempo to take Arkansas' athletes, namely Michael Qualls and Bobby Portis, out of the game. Arkansas has struggled against slow teams, losing a game against Clemson earlier this season. Wofford has some upset experience having a win at N.C. State on their resume. Keep an eye on senior guard Karl Cochran who has knocked down 90 three pointers for the Terriers this season.
Player to Know: Kyle Collinsworth, BYU Cougars
BYU ended up in the First Four, where the Cougars have to get past Ole Miss before they can advance to a match-up with Xavier. There's no question that Collinsworth will come up big, it's just a matter of in what statistical category he'll go off. Collinsworth has tallied six triple-doubles this season, which is both an NCAA single-season record and career record. The six-foot-six point guard tore his ACL, just over one year ago, in the 2014 WCC Tournament final but has come back better than ever. The Cougars run a blisteringly fast, high scoring offense and Collinsworth is the one who makes it go.
If the Cougars hadn't been shipped to Dayton they'd have been my pick for a first round upset.