RTC Bracket Prep: Midwest RegionPosted by jstevrtc on March 15th, 2010
This is the fourth of our four quick-and-dirty region breakdowns. This will serve to help the quick triggers who like to fill out their brackets first thing on Monday morning. For the rest of you, we’ll be providing more detailed game-by-game analysis throughout the rest of the week.
Favorite: Kansas, #1-seed, 32-2. The overall #1 seed. The experts say there are no dominant teams this year, but for our money this year’s Jayhawks are just as dominant as North Carolina was in 2008-09. Top-flight weapons at every position. A solid bench. Excellent coaching. Youth. Experience. Any way you prefer to be beaten, they’ll beat you. That switch they flipped to put Texas A&M away in the Big 12 Tournament was scary, but that’s the sort of command of which they’re capable.
Should They Falter: Ohio State, #2-seed, 27-7. We all know how special Evan Turner is. But teams seem to make the mistake of thinking that this team has no other weapons. David Lighty, Jon Diebler, and William Buford are all capable of big games. They defer to Turner, yet Turner enjoys sharing the wealth. As a team, they almost never take a bad shot, a trait that will serve them well even more this time of year.
Grossly Overseeded: Northern Iowa, #9-seed, 28-4. Northern Iowa’s only win in the NCAA was 20 years ago. I know that has nothing to do with now, but the last four times they’ve been to the Tournament, they’ve been a popular upset pick and have always come up short. To be honest, based on their body of work, they’re probably seeded where they should be, it’s just that there are a few teams seeded lower than them that are playing a little better brand of basketball right now. If UNI can give us some results in the Tournament, then we’ll be happy to put some chips on their square in the future.
Grossly Underseeded: Michigan State, #5-seed, 24-8. At this point, we should all be used to Tom Izzo overachieving in the NCAA Tournament. This team went 14-4 in the extremely tough Big Ten. After that stretch in which they dropped three straight (at Wisconsin, at Illinois, and Purdue), everyone forgot about them. Then they won five of six to end the year before the conference tournament, the only loss coming against surging Ohio State. Don’t ever sell the Spartans short in the Big Dance.
Sweet Sixteen Sleeper: Houston, #13-seed, 19-15. Aubrey Coleman is the nation’s leading scorer at 25.0 PPG, and it looks like he and Kelvin Lewis have finally started to put it together. Honestly, we thought we’d see more out of the Cougars this year. They’ll be a tougher out for Maryland than everyone thinks. Houston is second in the nation in turnovers per game (8.8), and 12th in turnovers forced (16.8), nice numbers when you have a pair of guards who can scoop up those turnovers and score quickly.
Final Four Sleeper: #5 Michigan State. They can own a game through their work on the boards.
Carmelo Anthony Award: You’ve got to go with Evan Turner, here (20.3 PPG, 9.2 RPG, 5.9 APG). There aren’t many players in the game today who, even with a nice supporting cast, can tell all of them to climb on his shoulders, because he’s got this. Turner is one of them.
Stephen Curry Award: Tre’Von Willis, UNLV, 17.3 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 3.5 APG, and 1.3 SPG. He averages almost seven points a game more than his team’s second-leading scorer. UNLV has a nice overall team but Willis is the relative unknown who can carry his team if he gets hot.
Home Cooking: Not too much on the stove in terms of home cooking in this region, though the teams whose first round sites are closest to home are Kansas (315 miles from Lawrence, KS, to Oklahoma City, OK), and Georgetown (406 miles from Washington, DC, to Providence, RI). The regional site of St. Louis would favor Kansas (288 miles), Ohio State (415 miles), and Oklahoma State (465 miles).
Can’t Miss First Round Game: #7 Oklahoma State vs #10 Georgia Tech, Friday @ 7:15 PM. Oklahoma State has the Big 12 player of the year in James Anderson, a powerful scorer who went nationally underappreciated all year until about the last two weeks of the season. Georgia Tech is loaded with talent and looks like they just may be getting it together this late in the season. It will serve as many fans’ introduction to GT’s excellent freshman Derrick Favors, a player who (gasp!) appeared higher on some recruiting lists than John Wall last year.
Don’t Miss This One Either: #4 Maryland vs #13 Houston, Friday @ 9:40 PM. Putting Greivis Vasquez against the nation’s leading scorer in Aubrey Coleman almost seems like you’re just daring Vasquez to shoot more and get more creative. #6 Tennessee vs #11 San Diego State on Thursday @ 9:45 PM was another attractive option.
Lock of the Year: Michigan State will outperform their #5 seed. The three teams that stand in their way to St. Louis: #12 New Mexico State, their first-round opponent who they’ll beat; #4 Maryland who lives and dies by Vasquez and will be well-guarded by the Spartans if they face him; and #13 Houston whose talent and experience doesn’t approach that of the Spartans.
Juiciest Potential Matchup (purists): #2 Ohio State vs #3 Georgetown in the Sweet 16. Turner, the national player of the year, versus Greg Monroe, another of the nation’s best players and the best interior passer in the game. Intriguing matchups would make this one a lot of fun, and there’s a darn good chance it’ll happen.
Juiciest Potential Matchup (media): #1 Kansas vs #5 Michigan State in the Sweet 16. A rematch of last year’s Sweet 16 game in Indianapolis in which MSU controlled the tempo and beat the Jayhawks, 67-62. You know Self would love the chance to exact some revenge.
We Got Screwed: Georgetown, #3-seed, 23-10. After losing leading scorer Austin Freeman to a confusing illness which later turns out to be diabetes, they get him back and get to the finals of the Big East Tournament, lose on a last-second shot (close to a travel) by Da’Sean Butler. Then, after a lot of speculation that they’d raised themselves to the 2-seed line, they’re made a 3-seed in a bracket with the overall #1 and possibly the best #2? Yeesh.
Strongest Pod: No doubt — Milwaukee. Oklahoma State, Georgia Tech, and Ohio State. Lots of star power and fun teams to watch. And in the West region, Milwaukee also has Xavier and Pittsburgh. If you have Milwaukee pod tickets, you scored.
Wildcard, Bitches: You should watch the San Diego State vs Tennessee game if only to pay tribute to SDSU’s Kelvin Davis. This man was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma early in his Aztec career, underwent 12 chemotherapy rounds, and missed most of the 2008-09 season. He’s played in all but one game this year and averages 19 minutes a game. What’s most impressive is that he was nominated for the Jimmy V Foundation’s Comeback Player of the Year award…by BYU coach Dave Rose. It’s the first time ever that a coach has nominated an opposing player for the award. Davis won the V Foundation’s Most Courageous award last season.
So-Called Experts: It’s almost a unanimous Kansas vs Ohio State regional final, and everyone’s taking Kansas.
Vegas Odds to Win Title:
- Kansas = 2:1
- Ohio State = 15:1
- Georgetown = 25:1
- Maryland = 40:1
- Michigan State =30:1
- Tennessee = 60:1
- Oklahoma State = 200:1
- UNLV = 300:1
- Northern Iowa = 200:1
- Georgia Tech = 100:1
- San Diego State = 300:1
- Field = 50:1