Welcome to Part Two of my March Madness bracket preview. Last time, we took a look at the South Region I shared my South predictions. Let’s get going on the next region. Today, we will look at the Midwest region.
Missed a previous post? Check here.
March Madness 2017: Previewing the South Region
Curious about my whole bracket? Here it is.
Now let’s take a closer look at the Midwest portion of the field of 68.
#4 Purdue vs. #13 Vermont
Thursday 3/16 @7:27 PM EST on truTV
Purdue has had a very good season, led by superstar player Caleb Swanigan. They won the Big Ten in regular season play, Swanigan leading them to their best season in a while. He led them to be a significant contender. The Catamounts could be out to stop them though. They have won so many games in a row, and it would be disappointing to see them lose. Can they top Purdue though? This could come down to the final minutes, and I could see Vermont upsetting Purdue, but there’s a good case for either team in this crucial match-up.
The Pick: Purdue
#5 Iowa State vs. #12 Nevada
Thursday 3/16 @9:57 PM EST on truTV
Iowa State really put on a show to end the season. After Kansas was upset, they breezed through the Big 12 tournament and beat West Virginia in the finals. Iowa State deserves some credit over West Virginia for that. Nevada is in an overrated conference, so their win is not that big an accomplishment. ISU is the better pick in my opinion, I think they will do well in this toruney.
The Pick: Iowa State
#7 Michigan vs. #10 Oklahoma State
Friday 3/17 @12:15 PM EST on CBS
This is definitely one game I’ll be watching on Friday if I can before my ski trip this weekend. The Wolverines are coming off an amazing tournament performance. They are the lowest seed to win the Big Ten tourney. Michigan could do very well in this tournament after a strong finish to the season. However, Oklahoma State has struggled of late, but started the season very strongly. Can Oklahoma State turn it around? With how good Michigan’s been, it’ll be tough.
The Pick: Michigan
#3 Oregon vs. #14 Iona
Friday 3/17 @2:00 PM EST on TBS
Iona is an interesting team and is always a challenge to play in the NCAA Tournament. Can Oregon hold them off? They recently lost Chris Boucher for the season to injury. This banged up Oregon team could not beat Arizona in the Pac-12 championship. I think Iona has a chance here. Oregon is not at their best, and Iona will take advantage of that. The fact that Oregon hasn’t won a game without Chris Boucher is a scary thought, and they are already an upset target with that. Add in the fact that they’re playing Iona, a team that’s almost always been here lately and has pulled a couple upsets before and this game’s odds look a lot different.
The Pick: Iona
#2 Louisville vs. #15 Jacksonville State
Friday 3/17 @2:45 PM EST on CBS
Jacksonville State is definitely a sleeper to watch, but come on. The only reason they’re here is because of a good conference tourney run. The Cardinals are one of the best teams in this year’s tourney. They will not be stopped by a #15 seed. Louisville is a serious contender. Losing here would devastate them, but it won’t happen. If you’re looking for a 15 seed to pull an upset, it won’t be in this year’s tourney, because I believe in all of the two seeds in this tournament.
The Pick: Louisville
#6 Creighton vs. #11 Rhode Island
Friday 3/17 @4:30 PM EST on TBS
I watched Rhode Island in the Atlantic 10 championship, and even against a strong team VCU, they looked really good. They are a serious upset candidate. I think they have a chance against Creighton. Creighton started the season well, but struggled in conference play. They kind of fell apart, just not enough to lose their at-large spot. Rhode Island is one of the highest trending teams right now, and they started this season ranked in the AP Poll. Can they beat Creighton, a number 6 seed? I think so.
The Pick: Rhode Island
#1 Kansas vs. #16 NC Central/UC Davis
Friday 3/17 @6:50 PM EST on TNT
The Jayhawks are sure to beat NC Central or UC Davis. No #16 seed has ever beaten a number one seed. Both of these teams play in easy conferences and you can cut Kansas slack even after being upset in the conference tourney, they play in the Big 12! The Jayhawks will definitely beat these teams, but could the Round of 32 be tougher for them?
The Pick: Kansas
#8 Miami vs. #9 Michigan State
Friday 3/17 @9:20 PM EST on TNT
Both these teams have a chance to win, and both these teams are underrated. The Spartans haven’t had the best season, but you never know with them. It’s March Madness. This is the same team that went to the Final Four as a #7 seed, but lost in Round 1 as the #2 seed. However, Michigan State hasn’t done well since that 2016 upset. The Hurricanes are good, but are also trending downwards, and that’s also been happening since the 2016 tourney. I think despite their decline, the Spartans will come through this March.
The Pick: Michigan State
Round of 32 Preview
Here’s what the Round of 32 could look like:
#1 Kansas vs. #9 Michigan State
#4 Purdue vs. #5 Iowa State
#14 Iona vs. #11 Rhode Island
#2 Louisville vs. #7 Michigan
This would make for a very interesting and hard to pick Round of 32. I like the potential URI has, so I’d put them in the Sweet 16. Michigan and Michigan State will be a challenge for their opponents, but Kansas and Louisville are just too talented to be upset here, in the Second Round of the Big Dance. Purdue and ISU would come down to the final seconds as well, but despite the potential the Cyclones have, I like Caleb Swanigan’s Boilermakers to win this game and advance to play Kansas in the Sweet 16. Louisville and Rhode Island would play in the other Sweet 16 game.
And the projected Midwest champion is…
Louisville is a serious contender this year. Why do I have them beating Kansas? They have depth that really impresses me. Quentin Snider, Donovan Mitchell and Deng Adel have helped make the Cardinals offense amazing, and Mangok Mathiang is always there on the rebound. This is a very well rounded team that will go far, and has a serious chance to win it all.
That’s all for Part 2 of my March Madness preview. Next stop, the East Region.