Men's NCAA Tournament Midwest Regional Overview

Men's NCAA Tournament Midwest Regional Overview

Well, well… it’s time to fill out those brackets once again. The Midwest bracket this year seems to be one of the most talented regions in the tournament and includes the number one overall seed, Louisville.


Louisville faces the winner of the play-in game between North Carolina A&T and Liberty. The Flames were only the second team in history to make the tournament with 20 losses, but Liberty got hot during the Big South tournament and ran the table. Still, no matter which team is the winner of the first round game, the Cardinals should breeze through as the neither team compares to the level of competition Rick Petino’s squad just faced winning its second consecutive Big East tournament.  Once Louisville is in the round of 32, they will have to buckle down as they will face the winner of the 8/9 seed game featuring Colorado State and Missouri. The Rams are a strong team and are extremely composed with veteran leadership with the five main minute players all seniors. They have a tough first game against the Missouri Tigers who are probably not too happy with their seeding.  It appears the tag of being in the SEC really hurt where in previous years the Tigers prevailed for being in the considered much better Big 12. Being in the SEC gave the Tigers a ninth seed where a team like Oklahoma State, who had a similar record, made a fifth seed being from the Big 12.  But Mizzou can settle their differences if they handle business as they could face those Oklahoma State Cowboys in the Sweet 16.

Oklahoma State is again the fifth seed, but they drew a very difficult 12 seed in Oregon. The Ducks are one of the hottest Pac-12 teams this season and proved that this past weekend winning the Pac-12 tournament. The winner of Oklahoma State/Oregon will face the winner between Saint Louis and New Mexico State. That 4/13 seed matchup is very interesting as it pits two teams that many considered candidates for good sleeper picks, but obviously one will be knocked out early now. The Bilikens are fresh off an Atlantic-10 tournament championship over VCU while New Mexico State handled their own business winning the WAC tournament.

A little lower on the bracket nine seed Memphis, who saved tournament hopes with a double overtime win over Southern Miss in the C-USA championship, will face the winner of the 11 seed first round game. That game may easily be the most competitive first round game as it matches Middle Tennessee against Saint Mary's. The Gaels obviously had a strong season, but failed to beat Gonzaga in three meetings, and the Blue Raiders had only one conference loss that came in overtime on the road, and only five losses overall and a 17 game win streak during the season. The Middle Tennessee State and St. Mary’s game winner could easily give Memphis a tough challenge in the next round.

Michigan State faces Valparaiso in the 3/14 seed game. The Spartans will be looking forward to playing anyone outside of the Big Ten but Sparty better not let their guard down too much as the Crusaders are no pushover as a 14 seed. Creighton and Cincinnati meet in the 7/10 game which may end up being one of the more interesting games and is certainly one of the more difficult to predict. Cincinnati hasn’t looked as strong lately but again, they were playing steep competition in the best conference in basketball.  Creighton, with Doug McDermott, is also very lethal and with a good shooting game can knock off almost anyone. Then there is Duke, who will avenge last season’s early exit from the tournament and will not lose to Albany in the first game. I don’t want to say Coach K tossed the game against Maryland, but he was much happier they lost than won. He knows he has a strong championship caliber team and rest was much more needed than an ACC tournament championship.

The Midwest features 10 conference tournament champions, but it looks like it could play out in the end to feature the best teams. Louisville has a strong chance to survive and reach the Final Four. Their biggest threat may come against Duke in the Elite Eight. For an upset, be on the lookout for the 11, 12, and 13 seeds. All three may win in the second round. As the 11 seed, St. Mary’s has a good chance to top MTSU and move on to play Memphis, who they match up very well against. The most interesting early games may be Oregon against Oklahoma State and Cincinnati against Creighton. Later on I think the biggest shocker will come when St. Mary’s faces Michigan State for a spot in the Sweet 16.  St. Mary’s and Oregon both could turn into surprise Sweet 16 teams out of the Midwest, along with Duke, and Louisville, with the Cardinals eventually making the trip to Atlanta for the Final Four.


Final Four Game Breakdowns


South Regional Overview

East Regional Overview

West Regional Overview


NCAA Tournament Central