The West region will be full of familiar faces on a number of fronts. For starters, each team in the Sweet 16 is no stranger to this stage. In the last five seasons alone, these four teams have been to the regional semifinal 12 times.
But if the region goes chalk and sends top two seeds Wisconsin and Arizona to Saturday, the game will be a rematch of last year’s Elite Eight that sent Bo Ryan to his first Final Four.
Here’s a look at the West Regional in Los Angeles at a glance.
No. 4 North Carolina vs. No. 1 Wisconsin (7:47 p.m., TBS)
No. 6 Xavier vs. No. 2 Arizona (approx. 10:17 p.m., TBS)
Top Five Players
1. Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin
2. T.J. McConnell, Arizona
3. Sam Dekker, Wisconsin
4. Marcus Paige, North Carolina
5. Stanley Johnson, Arizona
Top Dog — Wisconsin
The Badgers are making their fourth Sweet 16 appearance in the last five seasons, but the goals are far more grand than they once were for Wisconsin. To reach the Final Four for the second consecutive season, the Badgers have to get through North Carolina. The Tar Heels are generally regarded as a dynamic offensive team because of their up-and-down style, but Wisconsin ranks first in the nation in offensive efficiency. The battle for tempo will be the most interesting matchup of the game.
Underdog — Xavier
Xavier is no stranger to this stage. The Musketeers are in the Sweet 16 for the fifth time in the last eight years. But they’re also a No. 6 seed among Wisconsin, Arizona and North Carolina. With freshman Trevon Bluiett and sophomore Jalen Reynolds emerging, this Xavier team is peaking at the right time.
Familiar Faces for Sean Miller
The selection committee made sure Sean Miller’s path to his first Final Four was an emotional one. To get to the Sweet 16, the Arizona coach had to go head to head with Ohio State coach Thad Matta, his predecessor and former boss at Xavier. Miller’s Sweet 16 matchup will be a against Xavier, a team he coached for five seasons. On the Xavier bench is Chris Mack, who spent all five of those seasons on Miller’s staff before succeeding him with the Mountaineers.
“It's been a hard year, it really has. I probably acted sillier in the locker room after this game than I have in quite a while. I'm going to try to enjoy the dickens out of this one for a while.”
-North Carolina coach Roy Williams after the 87-78 win over Arkansas, referring to the passing of mentor and UNC legend Dean Smith earlier this year.