By Kyle Beery
The NCAA Tournament field has been announced and it’s time for bracket overload. You’ll spend the next three days reading up all you can to try and gain an edge in your bracket pool, and more than likely you’ll be regretting all that time wasted by Friday night.
But you’ll do it anyway because the greatest week of the year is upon us and that goes along with the territory. So I’ll be breaking down each regional of the bracket, looking at the best teams, best matchups, potential upsets, and more.
Here’s the breakdown for the Midwest Regional.
- The Jayhawks are the best team in this region, despite losing to TCU in the Big 12 quarterfinals, which left some fans scratching their heads. But KU was missing starting guard Josh Jackson for that game. The Jayhawks had 16 wins against the RPI top 100 this season, including four against the top 11. Drawing a potential second-round matchup with Mr. March, Tom Izzo, could be a little scary for the Jayhawks, but they are still the favorite to come out of the Midwest.
- Oregon was a close second to the Cardinals, but the Ducks just lost big man Chris Boucher (11 PPG, 6 RPG, 2.5 BPG) for the rest of the season with a torn ACL. That injury is maybe what kept Louisville from falling to a 3-seed. The Cardinals sort of scuffled down the stretch, losing three of their last five, but they have a top-10 defense and great guard play in Donovan Mitchell and Quentin Snider.
- The Cyclones have gotten hot at just the right time. They just won three straight to win the Big 12 Tournament. Before losing the regular season finale at West Virginia, they won six in a row. Much of Iowa State’s success is derived from point guard Monte Morris. The ball-handling wizard averages 16.3 points, 6.1 assists and 1.1 turnovers a game for a 5.71 assist-to-turnover ratio, tops in the country.
- The Wolverines have also caught fire at the right time. Michigan won four games in four days to win the Big Ten Tournament title, following a scary airplane incident on its way to Washington, D.C. This team is playing as well as anybody in the country right now, thanks to Derrick Walton, Jr. and Co.’s hot three-point shooting. They shot 43 percent against Wisconsin in the championship game and 34 percent for the entire tournament.
Potential first-round upsets
- 13. Vermont over 4. Purdue
- Vermont owns the nation’s longest win streak at 21 games. The Catamounts’ last loss came at Butler before Christmas, and they hung with the Bulldogs for most of the game, only losing by 12. Anthony Lamb leads the team with 12.6 PPG on 50 percent shooting. Purdue finished its regular season in a bit of a slump, and finished 223rd in the country in offensive rebounding. That could be an issue with a Vermont team that gets 25 defensive RPG.
- 11. Rhode Island over 6. Creighton
- Rhode Island was a bubble team heading into the A-10 Tournament, but took matters into its own hands by winning the title for an auto-bid. The Rams have gotten this far with 6.1 blocked shots per game, which ranks fourth in the country and third among tournament teams. If they can successfully run Creighton off the three-point line (39.9 3FG%) and force them to turn to guys not named Justin Patton (7-footer averaging 13 PPG) in the post, this could be theirs for the taking.
- 1. Kansas over 5. Iowa State
- 2. Louisville over 3. Oregon
- 1. Kansas over 2. Louisville
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