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JOE SULLIVAN’S WEST REGION ANALYSIS

North Carolina-Gonzaga rematch in making for West final

Garrison Brooks and North Carolina could face an early test against Providence.
Garrison Brooks and North Carolina could face an early test against Providence.Al Bello/Getty Images

Xavier has had an historic season, winning the Big East regular-season title and getting a No. 1 seed. Not sure how much history the Musketeers can make in the NCAA Tournament. A second-round matchup with Florida State, which should beat Missouri in the first round, will be contentious. The Seminoles are a tough defensive unit that could slow Xavier down. Awaiting X in the Sweet 16 should be Gonzaga, which has had an under-the-radar season but a successful one. The Zags are better than people think. North Carolina will have a tricky second-round matchup with Providence, which is coming off an overtime loss to Villanova in the Big East final. Houston, a defensive-minded team, could upset Michigan in the second round to become the Tar Heels’ Sweet 16 opponent. In the end, it all sets up as a rematch of last year’s NCAA championship game, North Carolina vs. Gonzaga for the West championship.

Upset specials: South Dakota State over Ohio State, Providence over Texas A&M.

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Sweet 16: Xavier, Gonzaga, Houston, North Carolina.

Regional champion: North Carolina


Joe Sullivan can be reached at joseph.sullivan@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeSullivan