PUT ME IN COACH: Coaching roots are deep inside West Region

MARSHALL – College basketball can provide some interesting stories, especially when you look at some of the coaching trees. The West Region provides some interesting story lines, especially for teams coming from the midwest.

No. 11 seed Nebraska is one of the more interesting teams because of its head coach, Tim Miles.

Miles, the former Southwest Minnesota State head coach in his second year at Nebraska, may get a chance to guide the Cornhuskers against in-state rival Creighton, if both teams win second-round games.

Creighton is coached by Greg McDermott, who also has coaching ties to the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference from his early days at Wayne State. He also spent time at North Dakota State, another West bracket member.

The West bracket also features Oregon whose coach, Dana Altman, was the head of the Bluejays during their glory days in the Missouri Valley Conference.

Two of these schools have a chance of meeting in the Sweet 16.

Intriguing matchups

No. 5 Oklahoma

vs. No. 12 North Dakota State

NDSU enters tournament as the team with the top field goal percentage in the country, knocking down nearly 51 percent of its shots. The?Bison finished the regular season with a 25-6 record and with a signature win over Notre Dame.

NDSU’s resume isn’t all that impressive, but they are playing Oklahoma, which has underperformed as of late.

If nothing else, the Bison have proven they can pull an upset, from time-to-time, in one sport or another.

No. 8 Gonzaga vs.

No. 9 Oklahoma State

At first glance, this was a matchup that raised a few eyebrows, as one would automatically think Oklahoma State is the better team even if it were the lower seed.

The Cowboys have Marcus Smart, who is averaging 18 points, six assists and six rebounds, and senior guard Markel Brown, who averages 17 points and three assists.

Oklahoma State’s resume isn’t all that impressive. The Cowboys suffered losses to Oklahoma (twice), Kansas, Iowa State, Texas and Baylor in the second half of the season.

The Bulldogs completed another season with a West Coast Conference Championship and enter with the fifth-best field goal percentage in the country at .498.

Gonzaga is also adept at putting the ball in the hole, averaging close to 80 points per game. The Cowboys give up close to 70 points per contest.

Sam Dower, a Brooklyn Park native, is the leading scorer for Gonzaga, averaging 15 points and eight rebounds.

The Bulldogs also get good production from Kevin Pangos at 14 points and four assists per game.

Predictions

Arizona will have no problem with Weber State and, I believe, Gonzaga will get Oklahoma State’s scoring threats in foul trouble enough to pull the upset in a close game.

North Dakota State will show more fight than Oklahoma and pull the upset against the Sooners, while San Diego has too much talent for New Mexico State.

Nebraska will find a way to beat what, I feel, is an overrated Baylor team and will get the in-state mathchup with Doug McDermott and Creighton.

Oregon is hot right now and will get past BYU and Wisconsin won’t have too much trouble with American.

On Thursday

The Midwest Region is next.