Cal St Fullerton Duke Basketball

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski yells during the first half Friday against Cal State Fullerton in the first round of the NCAA tournament in Greenville, S.C.

Klee with Three: Thoughts on the NCAA Tournament as the Sweet 16 takes shape

1. The West’s best

It’s been over two decades since the national champion resided out west — Arizona in 1997. And it’s been a rare time when the west was better prepared to win it at all than this season. Arizona, Gonzaga (which played late Saturday) and UCLA brought rosters capable of cutting the nets in New Orleans. Saint Mary’s is good enough to reach the Final Four. Since the last title team from the west, Utah, Arizona and Gonzaga (twice) reached the national championship game. Time to seal the deal.

2. Coach K vs. Tom Izzo

No. 2 Duke meets No. 7 Michigan State on Sunday. Here’s one way to look at it: Tom Izzo tries to reach the Sweet 16 for the second time in six years, while Mike Krzyzewski attempts to recover from missing the NCAA Tournament last year. Or you could roll with the mainstream view, which asserts two legends square off in what could be Coach K’s final game at Duke. They combine for 20 Final Fours and more curse words than you can imagine. Remember, if Bob Knight yells at the refs, it’s bullying. If Coach K or Izzo does it, he’s working the officials. Don’t miss this one, and let the best potty mouth win.

3. Three wagers for Sunday

I like Purdue (minus-3.5) vs. Texas, Villanova (minus-5.5) vs. Ohio State, and Houston (minus-4.5) vs. Illinois. Purdue has the talent of a 1 seed, Villanova is quietly playing its best ball of the year, and fading Illinois remained a good bet after they squeezed past UT-Chattanooga.

(Contact Gazette sports columnist Paul Klee at paul.klee@gazette.com or on Twitter at @bypaulklee.)

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