The Selection Committee didn’t favor Louisville or Kansas when they set seeds for the NCAA Men’s College Basketball Tournament in the March Madness Midwest Region. 1 Kansas may have to face Big 12 rival Iowa State in the Sweet 16. 2 Louisville may face Michigan, the Big Ten Tournament Champion, in Round 2.
2017 March Madness Midwest Region Preview
Can either Louisville and Kansas get past the traps that Selection Committee set up for both? Will 3 Oregon move past the loss of their best big man? Keep reading to find out what I think!
Top Contenders: 1 Kansas, 2 Louisville, 3 Oregon, 5 Iowa State
Kansas was terrific all season long until the Big 12 Tournament. The Jayhawks lost 82 to 85 to TCU in the Big 12 Tournament. Some thought the loss might send Kansas to a 2 seed. The Selection Committee decided that Kansas’s overall body of work, the Jayhawks entire season, was more important than their loss to TCU in the Big 12 Tournament.
Louisville played well in their first game of the ACC Tournament against Duke. The Cardinals only lost by 4 points, 81 to 77. Rick Pitino is considered one of the top college basketball coaches in history. He’ll have the Cardinals ready to go deep in the Midwest Region.
Oregon won the Pac 12 Regular Season outright because they beat Arizona in the head to head match up. The Ducks went into the Pac 12 Tournament Championship against Arizona without their best big man, Chris Boucher. Can the Ducks get past the loss of Boucher and make another run to the Elite 8?
Iowa State won the Big 12 Conference Tournament. The Cyclones looked dead in the water after the first 4 minutes of the Big 12 Championship. West Virginia appeared to be in control. Then, the Cyclones turned on the jets. They dominated West Virginia to take home the Big 12 Tournament Championship.
What’s Wrong With: 4 Purdue
Purdue is a good team. The issue I have with Purdue is that they are in a tough bracket. Purdue’s biggest problem is that they don’t have that one guard that can dominate. Kansas has a couple. So does Iowa State. When it comes to the NCAA Tournament, you must have a swingman or guard that can play inside or outside. Purdue’s top players are center Isaac Haas and center Caleb Swanigan. Iowa State should run those two guys off their feet in Round 2.
Key Game: 1 Kansas vs 5 Iowa State – Sweet 16
Iowa State should make it all the way to the Sweet 16. So, should Kansas. Both the Cyclones and Jayhawks are good enough to beat Oregon or Louisville in the Elite 8. That makes this potential matchup between the Big 12 rivals the key game. It should be a classic.
Kansas beat Iowa State on the road 76 to 72 on January 16. Iowa State returned the favor in Kansas on Feb. 4 with a 92 to 89 win over the Jayhawks in overtime. Both teams love to run and gun. Kansas averages 82.7 points per game while Iowa State averages 80.9 points per game.
Top Underdog: 7 Michigan
Michigan won the Big Ten Tournament by being better than their opponents. The Wolverines beat Illinois 75 to 55. They beat Purdue 74 to 70 in overtime. Then, they beat Minnesota 84 to 77. Michigan dominated ranked Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship 71 to 56. Michigan could win the Midwest Region if they carry over the momentum they gained from the Big Ten Tournament. We’re going to find out soon if that’s the case. 10 seed Oklahoma State, Michigan’s opponent in Round 1, is a good basketball team.
Top “No Way” Underdog: 11 Rhode Island
The Rams go into the NCAA Tournament en fuego. They’ve won 8 games in a row. They’ve covered in 3 straight and in 6 of their last 7. Rhode Island is so hot in Vegas that 60% of college hoops handicappers are backing the Rams at +1 over Creighton, the Big Ten Tournament Championship runner-up. I think Rhode Island is good enough to beat Creighton. Then, they most likely will face Oregon without Boucher. Crazier things have happened.
Winner: 5 Iowa State
The Cyclones have garnered the kiss of death 5 seed. Iowa State’s opponent in Round 1, Nevada, isn’t a bad basketball team. There’s a chance that Iowa State loses their Round 1 game. But, if the Cyclones can get past the 5 seed versus 12 seed curse, I think they win the Midwest Region.
I have no doubts that Iowa State is as good of a team as Kansas. This is especially true after watching Kansas lose 82 to 85 to TCU in the Big 12 Tournament. Iowa State beat TCU 84 to 63 in the very same tournament. They also split with Kansas during the regular season.
If the Cyclones can get by Kansas in the Sweet 16, I think they beat any team they face in the Elite 8.