Men's Basketball 2014 NCAA Tournament Midwest Regional Overview

Men’s NCAA Tournament Midwest Regional Overview

On paper this is a pretty tough regional. Wichita State’s draw could not have gotten much tougher despite the fact that they can make it to the Final Four by going to Saint Louis and Indianapolis. But playing in Indianapolis is no major advantage with Saint Louis or Louisville looming in the Sweet Sixteen. The Midwest Regional also has the odd distinction of including three First Round games played in Dayton on Tuesday and Wednesday.

#1 Wichita State, #2 Michigan, #3 Duke, #4 Louisville, #5 Saint Louis, #6 Massachusetts, #7 Texas, #8 Kentucky, #9 Kansas State, #10 Arizona State, #11 Iowa / Tennessee, #12 North Carolina State / Xavier, #13 Manhattan, #14 Mercer, #15 Wofford, #16 Cal Poly / Texas Southern


Who Can Win?
The top five seeds are all capable of reaching the Final Four. Even teams like Texas, Kentucky and North Carolina State have plenty of talent if they can pull it all together. The Shockers of Wichita State have to be the favorites, but many will have Louisville beating them in the Sweet Sixteen…and rightfully so. With all due respect to Michigan and Duke, whoever emerges from the top half of the bracket should be looking at a trip to Arlington.

Who Can Surprise?
Texas is terribly young and terribly inconsistent, but they can beat anybody on any given day. The Longhorns have not strung together two wins in a row in a month, but back in January they did beat Iowa State, Kansas State, Baylor and Kansas in a row. All of those teams were ranked at the time. If Coach Rick Barnes can somehow get his young team to start playing like they have experience, the Longhorns could be a Sweet Sixteen team.

Who’s Hot?
North Carolina State snuck into the NCAA Tournament as a #12 seed that must play Xavier in Dayton, Ohio on Tuesday. But thanks to winning four in a row before falling to Duke in the ACC Tournament, this team got in. The Wolfpack have been streaky all year long and they appear to be on an uptick right now and Xavier, Saint Louis and potentially Wichita State better watch out for T.J. Warren and company. And, of course, Wichita State is hot after winning their last 34 games.

Who’s Cold?
Just a couple of weeks ago Saint Louis was riding a 19 game winning streak. On February 27th, they lost at home to Duquesne in a shocker. The Billikens followed it up with more respectable losses against VCU and Dayton. They did win at Umass in the regular season finale, but fell to St. Bonaventure in their A-10 Tournament opener. For a team with just six losses on the year, it is certainly not good that four of them came in the last five games. The stifling Saint Louis defense will keep this group in every game, but the game winning magic left too early.

Upset Alert!
Two years ago Mercer won the CIT. Last year they beat Tennessee in the NIT. This year the senior heavy squad has a great opportunity to knock off Duke. Not only is it always fun to pick against Duke, but this is also a nice matchup for the Bears. Duke does not have the bruising interior presence that Mercer struggles with and that is a good sign. This is a team that has played some quality opposition back in November and December and fared relatively well. They lost at Texas by three and at Oklahoma by six. They did beat Seton Hall and Ole Miss.

What Possible Matchup is Interesting?
With the committee not being particularly kind to Wichita State, just about every possible game for them is interesting. The Shockers could have to face an under-seeded Kentucky team in the Round of 32 with Louisville or Saint Louis looming in Indianapolis.

Which Players Will Dominate?
We’re running out of time to gush over freshman phenom Jabari Parker. The Duke forward averages 19.3 points per game and will not be intimidated by any opposing forwards in the Blue Devil’s half of the bracket. Louisville’s Russ Smith led his team to the national championship a year ago and is more than capable of making a return trip to the Final Four.

Which System is Tough to Prepare For?
Kentucky may not make a big run, but their frontcourt can give unsuspecting teams fits. Julius Randle is a big time scorer and rebounder, while Willie Cauley-Stein is one of the best shot blockers in the country. Some squads, like Wichita State, who are not used to multiple major presences hanging out in the paint, could have trouble scoring against the Wildcats.


Midwest Region 2nd Round Game Breakdowns


South Regional Overview

South Region 2nd Round Game Breakdowns


West Regional Overview

West Region 2nd Round Game Breakdowns


East Regional Overview

East Region 2nd Round Game Breakdowns


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