NCAA Tournament Preview: Midwest Region
It’s the best time of the year for the avid college basketball fan (of which I am). While the greatness which is Championship Week has come and gone, presented surprises and disappointments, and revealed what the committee deems the appropriate bracket. Having absolutely no basis for thinking I know more than the average bear about college basketball, I’m going to tell you how I feel about the NCAA tournament regions…starting with the vaunted Midwest.
The Favorite: #1 Louisville
The Cardinals are the hottest team in America. A long winning streak through the grind known as the Big East led the Cards to the Big East Tournament Title (a great building block for a Tourney run). Louisville should bound to the Elite Eight. The next best team in the upper half may be #12 Oregon.
The Dark Horse: #11 Middle Tennessee
Usually an #11 would reserve a spot as my “Cinderella” at best for the region, but the Blue Raiders were a mainstay in the RT25 for the end of the season…meaning they are awesome! Michigan State is pretty good, but the Blue Raiders are ready to go, trust me.
The Cinderella: #14 Valparaiso
I had to pick a team lower than a #11 right? Valpo won the same conference Butler has dominated recently. I don’t think Valpo has any chance, but that’s what makes them a Cinderella, right?
The Path: #1 Louisville beats play-in winner NC A&T before beating #9 Colorado State who beats Mizzou thanks to Frank Haith being as useful on the sideline as a sack of potatoes…not to insult the coaching ability of a sack of potatoes. The Cards will play #5 Oklahoma State after the Cowboys beat #12 Oregon (the most undervalued team ever?) and #4 Boogie. The Cards manage to sneak past the very talented Cowboys team. In the bottom half, Duke loses in the second round to #7 Creighton (who beats #10 Cincinnati) as Ryan Kelly and Seth Curry don’t make shots. The Bluebirds lose to Sparty who takes down #11 Middle Tennessee State (MY BOYS!!!) and #14 Valpo. Sparty beats Louisville in the Elite Eight because Peyton Siva and Russ Smith falter down the stretch in a close, physical game.
In Other Words: Michigan State is my pick to come out of the region.