Men's Basketball 2017 NCAA Tournament Midwest Regional Overview

Midwest Regional Overview
Talk about depth top to bottom and this region could be the toughest in this year’s tournament. It features a pair of power 5 conference regular season champs as well as a pair of power 5 conference tournament champions. While Kansas, Louisville and Oregon get the headlines after spending much of the season near the top of the rankings, teams like Purdue, Iowa State and Creighton have their share of big wins this season and can’t be taken lightly. Those teams will need to be playing their best right off the bat, as the talent doesn’t stop there. Michigan is playing some of the best basketball in the country at the moment, while Miami, Michigan State and Oklahoma State are capable of playing at a very high level. The talent doesn’t stop there either, as Rhode Island, Nevada and Vermont put together impressive seasons and have everything it takes to be that bracket busting team this year. Expect to see a lot of games that will come down to the wire and don’t be shocked to see some big upsets.
Who Can Win?
The top four seeds in this region, Kansas, Louisville, Oregon and Purdue all have the potential to win this region. Kansas won their 13th straight Big 12 title this season and features a veteran backcourt tandem of Frank Mason and Devonta Graham as well as freshman star Josh Jackson on the wing. Coming off an Elite 8 appearance last season, Kansas has Final Four aspirations and should be the favorite in this region. The Jayhawks path is far from easy though. Louisville has a great backcourt of their own with Quentin Snider and Donovan Mitchell. The duo lead a deep Cardinals team that prides itself on defense, holding opponents to under 40 percent shooting on the year. Oregon is also coming off an Elite 8 appearance a year ago and have a veteran team led by do-it-all forward Dillon Brooks. Losing Chris Boucher to a knee injury hurts the frontcourt depth, but there are enough pieces remaining to make a run. Big 10 regular season champ Purdue and double-double machine Caleb Swanigan will also be a tough out due to their size.
Who Can Surprise?
Iowa State did the impossible this season and won a road game at Kansas. The loss snapped the Jayhawks 54 game home winning streak and after seeing the bracket unveiled, Iowa State has to have some confidence heading into the tournament. The Cyclones come in hot after winning the Big 12 Tournament title and feature a high scoring offense that has four players averaging at least 12 points per game. Iowa State is also one of the best in the country at taking care of the ball, ranking in the top 10 nationally in fewest turnovers per game. Purdue would be a tough matchup due to the Boilermakers size, but the Cyclones have the talent to make a serious run.
Who’s Hot?
Michigan comes into the tournament on a roll as the Wolverines have won 10 of 12 and just won the Big 10 Tournament. Senior point guard Derrick Walton Jr. is playing the best basketball of his career and has the Wolverines firing on all cylinders. Michigan is especially good in two categories, free throw percentage and turnovers per game, ranking in the top 12 nationally in both. A potential round of 32 matchup with Louisville would be very tough, but it’s hard to write Michigan off based on their play in the last few weeks.
Who’s Cold?
Miami and Michigan State will face off in the round of 64 and both come into the tournament having lost three of their last four. It has been an up and down year for both teams, but either team is capable of beating anyone on any given night. Miami has wins over UNC and Duke this season, but struggles to score the ball consistently. Michigan State features four freshmen that play a bulk of the minutes and are battle tested after a brutal non-conference schedule that featured Arizona, Kentucky, Duke and Baylor. One of these teams has to win and if either can get hot, watch out. 
Upset Alert!
Creighton should be wary of its Round of 64 opponent Rhode Island. The Rams play tough defense , ranking top 40 nationally in scoring defense and field goal percentage defense, and are balanced offensively, something that gives them a significant advantage over Creighton. Rhode Island is at full strength heading into the tournament, while Creighton is not as starting point guard Maurice Watson is out for the season. Look for the Rams to use their defense and depth to pull the upset over Creighton.
What Possible Matchup is Interesting?
An Elite 8 matchup of Kansas and Louisville would be quite a game. The top two seeds in the region are polar opposites. Kansas features a dynamic offense that ranks in the top 20 nationally in scoring offense, field goal percentage and three-point field goal percentage. Louisville is a defensive based team, holding teams to under 65 points per game. Should these two teams meet up with a berth to the Final Four on the line, it will pit strength against strength. 
Which Player Will Dominate?
Caleb Swaingan was the Big Ten Player of the Year this season and for good reason. Swanigan is tied for first nationally in double-doubles and provides a tough matchup for any team. Add the ability to step out and shoot on the perimeter, the 6-foot-9, 250 pound sophomore is tough for any team to matchup with. Swanigan should have some big games in this region.
Which System is Tough to Prepare For?
Teams already have a tough time preparing to face Swanigan, but add in 7-foot-2 center Isaac Haas, who ranks second on the team in scoring and rebounding behind only Swanigan, and the task becomes a lot more difficult. Purdue looks to get both active right off the bat and, if they can, the Boilermakers are one of the best teams in the country. In a region lacking teams with real depth in the post, Purdue will be a tough out.