Gonzaga Bulldogs celebrate after defeating the Saint Mary's Gaels after the game in the finals of the WCC Basketball Championships at Orleans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Gonzaga Bulldogs celebrate after defeating the Saint Mary's Gaels after the game in the finals of the WCC Basketball Championships at Orleans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

West Region preview: Betting odds, favorites, sleepers and best bets for the 2022 NCAA Tournament

Along with the warmer weather, March Madness is finally here! We have officially entered the pinnacle point of the sports betting season. We’ll have round-the-clock hoops action in just a couple days here, and it is our pleasure (and responsibility) at WynnBET to get you prepared. Let us turn our attention to the West region.

At first glance, Gonzaga seems to have a stranglehold on the field, but there are still myriad advantageous plays to make in the West. Considering all regions, I believe here is where we will see the most staggering upsets. Yes, good times are on the horizon …

ALL ODDS AS OF TUESDAY, MARCH 15th.

Bracket

  • No. 1 Gonzaga (-23) vs. No. 16 Georgia St.

  • No. 8 Boise St. vs. No. 9 Memphis (-2.5)

  • No. 5 UConn (-6.5) vs. No. 12 New Mexico St.

  • No. 4 Arkansas (-5) vs. No. 13 Vermont

  • No. 6 Alabama (SPREAD TBD) vs. No. 11 Rutgers/Notre Dame

  • No. 3 Texas Tech (-14.5) vs. No. 14 Montana St.

  • No. 7 Michigan St. (-1) vs. No. 10 Davidson

  • No. 2 Duke (-18.5) vs. No. 15 Cal St. Fullerton

The favorites

Gonzaga – Here enters the tournament's top overall seed: The almighty Bulldogs at 26-3. Gonzaga has operated through most of the season as the consensus No. 1 team in the nation and utilizes the best offensive production in Men’s Division I basketball (scoring 87.8 pts/game over the current campaign). After winning another WCC title last week, Gonzaga has all the momentum they should need. Head Coach Mark Few and the Bulldogs will have as favorable a chance as ever to finally earn that elusive first national title in program history.

As of Tuesday (March 15th), WynnBET has Gonzaga at +325 to cut down the nets in New Orleans. Arizona has the next shortest odds to win it all at +575, and they would not be able to match-up with the Bulldogs until the championship. However, after a devastating loss to Baylor in that same game last year, is Gonzaga finally ready to go the distance? This Bulldog team is neither young nor old, utilizing players from all classes. Regardless of age, Gonzaga is long (avg. player height is 6’7”), disciplined and masterfully skilled. The towering tandem of Drew Timme and freshman phenom Chet Holmgren has been perhaps the most dominant unit on any floor this season. Considering everything the Bulldogs have shown us on the year, it really does feel like it is Gonzaga’s tournament to lose.

The Bulldogs begin the tournament by laying a whopping 23 points to 16-seed Georgia State. The Panthers played to an 18-10 record this season: Good enough to finish third in the Sun Belt conference. Gonzaga will likely turn their eyes to Boise State and UConn after the opening round. But after all, this is March—How much madness will we see?

Duke – Naturally, this season has been a bit of an emotional roller coaster for the Duke Blue Devils. Coach K.’s historic run of post is finally coming to an end, and that narrative has largely dominated any coverage of Duke this year.

Led by their own freshman phenom in Paolo Banchero, the Blue Devils are a young team (they typically don’t start any of their three seniors). Duke managed a 28-6 record this year, winning the ACC regular season. Despite losing in the ACC title game to a scrappy Virginia Tech squad, there are still plenty that believe Coach K. and the Blue Devils have one more magical ride in them. Right now, you can still head to WynnBET and get Duke at +1200 to win the whole Men’s tournament—that’s shorter odds than any other 2-seed not named Kentucky.

Under Coach K. (who has been head man for Duke basketball since the 1980-81 season), the Blue Devils have been to 12 Final Fours and brought back five national titles, with the most recent championship coming in 2015. Is this the Dukies' year, yet again? It seems only fitting that someone of Coach Krzyzewski pedigree would go out on top (a’la Derek Jeter or Peyton Manning). The Blue Devils always warrant respect, but it is their play as of late that concerns me—going 2-2 with losses to two conference rivals (UNC, VT) in the last four games before the big tournament leaves me feeling a little uncomfortable with Duke.  

Sleeper team to win the region: Texas Tech

I really like the Texas Tech Red Raiders to add a wrinkle to the West bracket. Coming in as a 3-seed, TTU enjoyed a solid season under Coach Mark Adams, going 25-9 along the way. After Kansas, I see the Red Raiders as the Big 12 team to do the most damage over March Madness. Texas Tech finds their strength on defense—on the season, they are only allowing 60.3 points/game (11th-best out of 358 eligible D1 programs). Typically, a consistent defensive effort translates well in any environment.

Through no doing of their own, here’s another thing the Red Raiders have going right—compared to Gonzaga, they are on the opposite side of the West bracket. Should the Red Raiders and Bulldogs match up, it would be to decide the entire region, sending the winner to the Final Four. There’s also the unlikely chance that someone else defeats Gonzaga before they get to Texas Tech. Either way, both schools would have to be three games in prior to meeting. Before getting to the Elite 8, Texas Tech would have to go through Montana State on Friday, then likely Alabama (who has been wildly inconsistent this year) and Duke/Michigan State.

Considering how everyone has been playing recently, I’d feel confident with Tech in any of those potential games. Right now, you can still get the Red Raiders to win the national title at +2500, which is longer odds than other 3-seeds Purdue (+1600) and Tennessee (+2000). Sure, the West region feels like it is Gonzaga’s to lose, but if I had to look elsewhere, it would be TTU.

First-round upset to consider

CS Fullerton moneyline (+1100) over Duke –  Everyone seems to be already on Vermont (+175 ML) knocking off the 4-seed Razorbacks in this region, so I figured we could have a little fun here—it will be the utmost goal of Cal State Fullerton to ensure Coach K. remembers these Titans. The Big West Champions (a conference mostly revered for its baseball talent) produced a 21-10 record over the 2021-22 campaign and were able to edge an athletic Long Beach team in the conference title game. On Friday, the Titans will face a different beast entirely when they see the Blue Devils.

This will likely be my longest play of March Madness, but we see upsets of this nature every year. I recognize that this is Coach K.’s last ride, but Duke has just seemed a little flat in their most recent showings. Sure, there is no shame in losing to quality programs like UNC or Virginia Tech, but the Blue Devils need to regain their fire now. Because after watching the Big West Championship, I can definitely say that Cal State Fullerton is motivated (and essentially playing with nothing to lose). At +1100 on WynnBET, I don’t mind placing a half-unit on the Titans to win straight-up in the opening round, turning the West region (and the entire tournament) on its head!

Best bets

Vermont (+5) vs. Arkansas – Thus far, 13-seed Vermont potentially upsetting 4-seed Arkansas has been among the most noteworthy of conversations. The Razorbacks have not been so sharp as of late, losing two of their last three games (including an embarrassing beatdown in the SEC tournament at the hands of Texas A&M). Additionally, the Catamounts are one of the stingiest teams on defense. That may not bode well for Arkansas who has not scored >80 points in a game since February 22nd.

Vermont compiled a 28-5 regular season record en route to an American East Conference Championship this season. They are a shorter team, boasting no seven-footers on the current roster, but the Catamounts are experienced and play cohesive basketball. I’m not sure if I’m as eager to bank on them defeating Arkansas outright as others are (+175 ML), but taking five points on the spread sure sounds comfortable. I’ll take the safer route here and lock in Vermont +5 for Thursday evening’s contest. 

 

Regional final prediction: Gonzaga over Texas Tech

As much as I’d like to craft up some way that Gonzaga legitimately gets bounced prior to the Final 4, it ultimately feels like being ingenious for ingenuity’s sake. The Bulldogs have been so comprehensively dominant in 2021-22 that they almost appear to be in a league of their own. On top of that, their style is consistent and disciplined, leaning on their twin towers Timme and Holmgren. Given that this will be their only and final season utilizing that tandem, the time is clearly right now for Gonzaga.

As aforementioned, I see the Red Raiders meeting Gonzaga to decide the West region in the Elite 8. Of course, every day is a new day and anything can happen, but I don’t see Tech taking down the Bulldogs. Given a relatively favorable path to the Elite 8, I’m confident that TTU can handle everyone else in the region.Yes, that includes Duke, Alabama, Sparty and Arkansas. 

Our NCAA Tournament cheat sheet

The Playbook is here to provide all the betting content you might need for the NCAA Tournament. We have published in-depth previews on all four regions of the bracket, best bets, and value articles for those wanting to place futures ahead of the Big Dance. 

Here’s a rundown of all that content — in case you missed any of it.

Our region previews:

Futures market

Best bets

Bracket

We will also have a betting preview for every matchup of the 68-team event, so make sure to stay tuned throughout the NCAA Tournament in order to make sure you are informed as a bettor.