Earlier we looked at the South region, now it's time for the other region that has all 16 teams set, the Midwest. One thing that I will say before we go in-depth; this is clearly the toughest region. Duke could have been a 1-seed, Michigan State might have been a 2 if they could have beaten Wisconsin and Saint Louis probably gets a higher seed if they aren't in the Atlantic 10. Here's the Midwest region:
THANKS FOR ATTENDING
North Carolina A&T (16) won last night against Liberty, getting their first NCAA Tourney win in the process. Their reward: the right to lose to Louisville by 35. Albany (15) is back in the tourney for the first time since 2007 when they gave a scare to UConn as a 16th seed. It's probably the one school in the tournament that I know the most alums. Too bad that Duke isn't going to allow another Lehigh to happen.
ONLY BECAUSE THEY ACTUALLY WON NCAA TOURNEY GAMES BEFORE
Valparaiso (14) and New Mexico State (13) have been to the Sweet Sixteen in the past. Bryce Drew is coaching Valpo and was there when they reached the Sweet 16 in 1998. It's too bad both teams go against Michigan State and Saint Louis. Different region might have led to an upset.
MIGHT AS WELL BE A GAME FROM THE NIT
Colorado State (8) vs. Missouri (9). I hate to shortchange Colorado State here, but after they beat Missouri, the matchup against Louisville is a killer for Colorado State since the Cardinals will speed it up. They will have to settle for beating up the Tigers down low, led by Colton Iverson.
BIG EAST LEFTOVERS
Cincinnati (10) will have their hands full with Doug McDermott and Creighton will speed up tempo to get the win. Memphis (6) has yet to win a game in the NCAA's under Josh Pastner and if you look at their schedule, 3 of their 4 losses came against tourney teams. They will be fun together in the Conference Formally Known As Big East.
FODDER FOR THE TOP SEEDS
St Mary's (11) won their First Four matchup last night and for the first two instances, this meant that one of those teams won the First Round game. They will against Memphis, but Matthew Dellavedova won't be enough to get past the size of Michigan State. Doug McDermott gets Creighton (7) past Cincinnati, but Duke will have multiple scorers who can do the job that Creighton can do. Oregon (12) was screwed with their seed and got stuck with a tough matchup against Oklahoma State (5). I think the Ducks win the rock fight between these teams who are great defensively. It won't really matter who wins since Saint Louis will be waiting.
REALLY WANTED TO PICK THEM FURTHER
Well, in the case of Duke (2), I'm not that upset that I'm picking them to be finished in the Sweet 16. Michigan State is too big for Duke and the Blue Devils get too dependent on the three-ball. Plus, Tom Izzo always extracts as much out of his team as possible once the tourney begins. Saint Louis (4) has the size to beat Louisville, but the Cards are better in the backcourt and uptempo doesn't work in the Billikens favor. Would be very interested to know if Rick Majerus would have been able to outwit Rick Pitino in this one.
Louisville (1) vs. Michigan State (3). Rematch from last year when the Spartans couldn't score much against the Cardinals. With Louisville more experienced and seemingly more explosive as the second half of the Big East title game showed. Louisville is looking to be the fourth straight Big East Champ to reach the Final Four and I (along with almost everyone it seems, something that makes me hesitant) believe this will happen.
Midwest Region: Louisville