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2024 March Madness West Region: Cinderella Predictions

2024 March Madness
(Photo By: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports)

2024 March Madness West Region: Cinderella Predictions

The West region might be the most exciting in the bracket. There is a lot of upset potential and possible close games on this side of the bracket. Also, I might be biased towards the West and like Arizona, St Mary’s, and Nevada. However, the first point still stands there are some real Cinderella opportunities in the West. Now, I will try to predict the two underdogs with the best chance to pull off a Cinderella run in the 2024 March Madness tournament.

New Mexico Lobos 11-seed

I was not confident enough to take Grand Canyon or Charleston but if you believe I say take them to go to the Sweet Sixteen. However, I think New Mexico is the double-digit seed in the West with the best chance to make a deep run. Firstly, they are red hot after running the table and winning the Mountain West Conference Tournament. The Mountain West was an extremely good conference this year and New Mexico saved their best basketball for the end of the year. 

Secondly, I like their path as they have a first-round matchup against a suspect Clemson team. Clemson finished 10-10 over their last twenty games. The Lobos then would likely face a tough Baylor team in the round of 32 and possibly a strong Arizona team in the Sweet Sixteen. However, both of these teams time and time again have early exits with neither team making it past the second round last year. I think the table is set for New Mexico if they can stay hot in the 2024 March Madness tournament.

Lastly, New Mexico is a really good team coached by Richard Pitino. They have a high-powered offense that scores 81.5 points per game and they excel in the turnover battle. The Lobos are led by their two senior guards Jaelen House and Jamal Mashburn JR. House averages 16.1 points and 2.3 steals and Mashburn Jr. averages 14.4 points. They have a stud in freshman forward JT Toppin, who averages 12.5 points and 9 rebounds, to round out a capable squad. 

Michigan State Spartans 9-seed

Now, it is tough to consider a Blue Blood like Michigan State a Cinderella but they are a nine seed this year. Also, only two nine seeds have made the final four, and the Spartans have a chance this year to be the third. Michigan State has underachieved all year but head coach Tom Izzy has a knack for making his teams play their best in the NCAA tournament. He has led a lot of deep runs in the tournament including eight Final Four appearances and one National Championship. Also, last year his win over Marquette gave him a 16th win in the tournament as the lower seed which is the new record. 

This Spartans team plays strong defense and they are led by their three upperclassmen guards Tyson Walker, A.J. Hoggard, and Jaden Akins. Walker averages 18.2 points and Hoggard averages 11 points and 5.2 assists. This team has the talent to be great and they are loved by the analytics but they need to put multiple games together. 

They will have a tough path as they will likely have to beat teams such as Mississippi State, North Carolina, St Mary’s, and or Alabama. However, the Spartans have huge wins this year over teams like Illinois, Baylor, Indiana State, and Northwestern. I think Michigan State has the opportunity to pull off a deep Cinderella-type run as a nine-seed in the 2024 March Madness tournament. 

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