Midwest Region Preview & Predictions

    
March 15th, 2010
It’s come to be expected that when a team is named the top overall seed for the NCAA Tournament they’ll receive a favorable draw in regards to the other seeds in their region. No such luck for the Big 12 Champion Kansas Jayhawks, who will begin their run at a second national title in three years against Lehigh. At least Bill Self’s team was taken care of in regards to travel; should open in Oklahoma City, and would head to St Louis should they reach the Sweet Sixteen.

 

But due to seeding issues the S-curve wasn’t truly followed, meaning that next in the Midwest are the Big Ten champion (Ohio St) and the Big East Tournament runner-up (Georgetown) that boasts a Top 10 RPI and one of the nation’s best schedules in regards to strength. Both teams have significant question marks going into the Tournament; the Buckeyes go no more than six players deep in their rotation, meaning that early foul trouble or an injury could be a concern. But they do feature super-star Evan Turne, named CollegeHoops.net's National Player of the Year. As for Georgetown, their concern will be having a consistent scorer to supplement the trio of Greg Monroe, Chris Wright and Austin Freeman. Jason Clark could have a lot to say about their tourney hopes, as he did in their conference tournament run.

 

The region also includes a pair of conference tournament champions who needed the automatic bids in order to get in, and they’ve both got the ability to wreak havoc now that they’re in the Field of 65. New Mexico St has been working towards the WAC Tournament since they regained the services of Troy Gillenwater in early February; the ability to bring a player of his caliber and size off the bench (14 ppg & 6 rpg) is something that many teams can’t match. They face perennial power Michigan St in the 5-12 game, a team that's reached the Sweet Sixteen 8 times in the last 12 years.

 

And San Diego St, who would have been a close shave to say the least without the Mountain West’s automatic bid, has a talented nucleus that will test Tennessee in the first round. D.J. Gay at the point can more than hold his own with Bobby Maze (if not win that individual battle) and the frontcourt is stocked with the likes of Billy White, Malcolm Thomas and freshman Kawhi Leonard just to name three contributors.

 

This is a very good region and don’t be surprised if there are a few “upsets” in regards to seeding. Houston, led by scoring-machine Aubrey Coleman could be a tough out for Greivis Vasquez and 4th seed Maryland. Other potential seed upsets could include the aforementioned Aztecs of SDSU and ACC finalist Georgia Tech playing against Oklahoma St. That game features multiple NBA prospects including Big 12 Player of the Year James Anderson and Tech's Gani Lawal & Derrick Favors.

 

Kansas will be the prohibitive favorite to get to Indianapolis (they're also CollegeHoops.net's official National Champion pick) but they certainly aren’t going to simply roll through the region.

 

Predictions

Midwest Region Champ: Kansas

Sweet 16: Michigan State, Georgetown and Ohio State

Best 1st Round Game: #9 Northern Iowa vs. #8 UNLV

1st Round Upset Possibility: #11 San Diego State vs. #6 Tennessee

Scary Underachiever: #10 Georgia Tech

Sweet 16 “Crasher”: Georgia Tech

 

Players who can shoot their team to an upset:

G Aubrey Coleman (Houston), G Armon Bassett (Ohio), G Kwadzo Ahelegbe (Northern Iowa), G Tre’Von Willis (UNLV)

 

All-Midwest “Team”:

G Sherron Collins (Kansas), G Greivis Vasquez (Maryland), G/F Evan Turner (Ohio State), F Wayne Chism (Tennessee), C Greg Monroe (Georgetown)