Breaking Down the Brackets: Midwest Regional Preview

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Midwest Regional General Information:

Regional Site: Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis Missouri

Conference Tournament Champions:  9

At Large Teams:  7

Power Conference Teams:  8

Mid Majors:  8

Pods: 4(Oklahoma City, Milwaukee, Providence, Spokane)

Interesting Facts: 

  • The region features the nations leading scorer in Houston's Aubrey Coleman.
  • The region features FIVE Wooden Award Finalists.

Team Capsules

#1 Seed Kansas Jayhawks

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Bid: Big 12 Tournament Champion(AND regular season)

Location: Lawrence, Kansas

Record: 32-2

KenPom Adj. Offensive Efficiency: 2nd

KenPom Adj. Defensive Efficiency: 5th

Key Offensive Stat: eFG% 12th

Key Defensive Stat: Opponent eFG% 3rd

Player to Know: Sherron Collins

Kansas is widely regarded as the best team in the field.  They have a senior leader in Sherron Collins, a dominant big man in Cole Aldrich and a talented group of supporters.  The Morris twins, Markieff and Marcus along with Tyshawn Taylor could hold the key to how far the Jayhawks make it in a run through the gauntlet that is the Midwest.  It's hard enough being the hunted in the regular season, now try being the hunted in a tournament with top to bottom solid opponents.


#2 Seed Ohio State Buckeyes

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Bid: Big 10 Tournament Champion

Location: Columbus Ohio

Record: 27-7

KenPom Adj. Offensive Efficiency: 7th

KenPom Adj. Defensive Efficiency: 22nd

Key Offensive Stat: eFG% 4th

Key Defensive Stat: Opponent FTA% 10th

Player to Know: Evan Turner

Ohio State is a hot name in college basketball right now.  Evan Turner is a game changer and at 6'7" creates all kinds of problems for opponents with his size and ability to handle the duties as the point man.  The biggest challenge for the buckeyes could be depth and if for some reason Turner struggles there isn't anyone that can replace what he means to the Buckeyes.


#3 Seed Georgetown Hoyas

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Bid: At Large Selection(Big East)

Location: Georgetown, Washington DC

Record: 23-10

KenPom Adj. Offensive Efficiency: 10th

KenPom Adj. Defensive Efficiency: 33rd

Key Offensive Stat: eFG% 6th

Key Defensive Stat: Opponent OReb% 148th

Player to Know: Greg Monroe

Georgetown has been an up and down team all year but seem to be on an upswing at the moment.  Greg Monroe is arguably the most well rounded big man in the country and creates all sorts of matchup challenges for coaches.  Throw in Austin Freeman and Chris Wright and the Hoyas feature both an inside presence and an outside punch.  Can the inconsistent Hoyas pull it together for a 6 game stretch is the big question.  Prior to the Big East tournament the Hoyas had not put together more than two consecutive wins in a row since conference play started.  2 games a weekend for 3 weekends straight?  Georgetown might be a darkhorse pick for an early upset in all reality.


#4 Seed Maryland Terrapins

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Bid: At Large Selection(ACC)

Location: College Park, Maryland

Record: 23-8

KenPom Adj. Offensive Efficiency: 6th

KenPom Adj. Defensive Efficiency: 40th

Key Offensive Stat: TO% 17th

Key Defensive Stat: Opponent OReb% 313th

Player to Know: Greivis Vasquez

Vasquez is more than capable of carrying the Terrapins and under his leadership Maryland is a team that is very efficient offensively.  If Vasquez goes on a tear for four games he could just carry Maryland out of the region and on to the Final Four.  Biggest question mark in College Park is and has been how they will handle a team with a solid inside game.  Maryland doesn't have it, a few teams in this region do and that could be where the Terrapins fall.


#5 Seed Michigan State Spartans

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Bid: At Large Selection(Big10)

Location: Lansing Michigan

Record: 24-8

KenPom Adj. Offensive Efficiency: 38th

KenPom Adj. Defensive Efficiency: 27th

Key Offensive Stat: Off Reb% 6th

Key Defensive Stat:Opponent Turnover% 239th

Player to Know: Kalin Lucas

Michigan State just didn't seem to find itself this year just a season removed from a national title game appearance.  They are a team that has talent, but appear to lack chemistry at times.  Still you can never count out Tom Izzo come tournament time.  Izzo is an incredible coach, a master motivator and you never know when he's going to find the formula and get a team to click.


#6 Seed Tennessee Volunteers

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Bid: At Large Selection(SEC)

Location: Knoxville Tennessee

Record: 25-8

KenPom Adj. Offensive Efficiency: 99th

KenPom Adj. Defensive Efficiency: 8th

Key Offensive Stat: FTA%  219th

Key Defensive Stat: Opponent TO% 22nd

Player to Know: JP Prince

Tennessee upset both Kansas and Kentucky in the regular season, the only team to beat the top two #1 seeds.  The Vols rely on a stingy defense as they aren't a great shooting team.  Still they have have shown the ability in spurts especially against Kansas.  Throw Bruce Pearl in the mix and the Vols are dangerous, but somewhat of a question mark as to how well they will show up.


#7 Seed Oklahoma State Cowboys

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Bid: At Large Selection(Big12)

Location: Stillwater Oklahoma

Record: 22-10

KenPom Adj. Offensive Efficiency: 37th

KenPom Adj. Defensive Efficiency: 63rd

Key Offensive Stat: Off Reb% 282nd

Key Defensive Stat: Opponent Off Reb% 20th

Player to Know: James Anderson

James Anderson is another Evan Turner.  He can carry the Cowboys and provide a huge emotional lift to the entire team.  When the Cowboys are shooting well they are unstoppable.  If they aren't, they lack the inside presence to find other ways to win.  The Cowboys are dangerous, but it's likely they go as far as Anderson can carry them.


#8 UNLV Runnin Rebels

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Bid: At Large Selection(MWC)

Location: Las Vegas Nevada

Record: 25-8

KenPom Adj. Offensive Efficiency: 58th

KenPom Adj. Defensive Efficiency: 29th

Key Offensive Stat: FTA% 311th

Key Defensive Stat: Opponent FTA% 311th(no this isn't a misprint.  They don't draw fouls and they foul a lot)

Player to Know: Derrick Jasper

UNLV is a deep team and a tough defensive team.  They take care of the ball, they're well coached and won't be an easy win by any stretch.  Derrick Jasper is key to the teams hopes as he's led the Rebels in rebounding for much of the year.  His health has been a question and if he's not at full strength it could really hamper the UNLV interior.


#9 Seed Northern Iowa Panthers

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Bid: Missouri Valley Conference Tournament Champion

Location: Cedar Falls Iowa

Record: 28-4

KenPom Adj. Offensive Efficiency: 81st

KenPom Adj. Defensive Efficiency: 13th

Key Offensive Stat: TO% 47th

Key Defensive Stat: Opponent Off Reb% 7th

Player to Know: Adam Koch

When you think Northern Iowa, think Big 10 basketball.  They aren't great offensively but they are physical inside and very good defensively.  The UNI bigs are solid rebound well and stay out of foul trouble.  Right now they appear to be a sexy pick for a potential sweet 16 shocker, but it might take a little more offensive firepower to run through UNLV and Kansas.


#10 Seed Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

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Bid: At Large Selection(ACC)

Location: Atlanta Georgia

Record: 22-12

KenPom Adj. Offensive Efficiency: 57th

KenPom Adj. Defensive Efficiency: 17th

Key Offensive Stat: TO% 305th

Key Defensive Stat: Opponent eFG% 9th

Player to Know: Derrick Favors

The Yellow Jackets have some serious talent on their roster.  Inside they have one future lottery pick and a likely first rounder.  The problem lies in the backcourt where the Yellow Jackets lack a true scoring threat.  If Derrick Favors gets rolling and the Yellow Jackets play as they did in the ACC tourney, they can make a run.  Unfortunately that isn't the way the majority of their season went late.


#11 Seed San Diego State Aztecs

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Bid: Mountain West Tournament Champion

Location: San Diego California

Record: 25-8

KenPom Adj. Offensive Efficiency: 43rd

KenPom Adj. Defensive Efficiency: 42nd

Key Offensive Stat: Off Reb% 9th

Key Defensive Stat: Opponent FTA% 52nd

Player to Know: Kawhi Leonard

The Aztecs have four solid players on the interior and it's hard to point to just one that a defense can focus on.  They're a solid team in the halfcourt, rebound extremely well and could be tough at a #11 seed.  The biggest question mark is in how the backcourt will respond and if the Aztec guards will handle consistent talent as they will face in the tournament.


#12 Seed New Mexico State Aggies

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Bid: WAC Tournament Champion

Location: Las Cruces New Mexica

Record: 22-11

KenPom Adj. Offensive Efficiency: 46th

KenPom Adj. Defensive Efficiency: 222nd

Key Offensive Stat: Off Reb% 254th

Key Defensive Stat: Opponent eFG% 277th

Player to Know: Jahmar Young

The Aggies are an athletic and potentially explosive team.  When they are on they can be an upset minded team, when they get lackadaisical, they lose.  The Aggies could pull a round one upset, but keeping it going for two in a row might be a stretch.


#13 Seed Houston Cougars

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Bid: Conference USA Tournament Champion

Location: Houston Texas

Record: 19-15

KenPom Adj. Offensive Efficiency: 40th

KenPom Adj. Defensive Efficiency: 165th

Key Offensive Stat: TO% 1st

Key Defensive Stat: Opponent TO% 30th

Player to Know: Aubrey Coleman

Houston is as hot as any team can be coming in.  Four wins in four days to win the Conference USA tournament.  Houston is an up and down team, they don't play defense and rush into their offense.  Aubrey Coleman is probably the one reason to watch for the Cougars as Coleman is the nations leading scorer and the points can add up quickly.


#14 Seed Ohio Bobcats

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Bid: Mac Tournament Champion

Location: Athens Ohio

Record: 21-14

KenPom Adj. Offensive Efficiency: 105th

KenPom Adj. Defensive Efficiency: 109th

Key Offensive Stat: Off Reb% 227th

Key Defensive Stat: Opponent Off Reb% 247th

Player to Know: Tommy Freeman

Ohio got hot at the right time.  They aren't a great team but found a way out of the MAC.  Two solid guards give them a fighting chance, but they lack the effectiveness on both ends of the floor to be a serious threat.


#15 Seed UC Santa Barbara Gauchos

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Bid: Big West Tournament Champion

Location: Santa Barbara California

Record: 20-9

KenPom Adj. Offensive Efficiency: 209th

KenPom Adj. Defensive Efficiency: 99th

Key Offensive Stat: TO% 313

Key Defensive Stat: Opponent TO% 62nd

Player to Know: Orlando Johnson

The Gauchos play defense and shoot the three.  Sounds dangerous in the first round.  The #15 over #2 seed upset has happened and the Gauchos are the type of team that could do it again.  The biggest downfall will be on the boards as UCSB can struggle big time against a decent rebounding opponent if the shots aren't falling.


#16 Seed Lehigh Mountain Hawks

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Bid: Patriot League Tournament Champion

Location: Bethlehem Pennsylvania

Record: 22-10

KenPom Adj. Offensive Efficiency: 133rd

KenPom Adj. Defensive Efficiency: 242nd

Key Offensive Stat: 3Pt FG% 9th

Key Defensive Stat: Opponent FTA% 54th

Player to Know: CJ McCollum

Lehigh can shoot and I mean really shoot.  Still it's fairly obvious they shouldn't have the depth, talent or athleticism to break the #1 over #16 streak.


The Matchups

#1 Kansas vs. #16 Lehigh

What To Watch: How do the Jayhawks respond to the apparent slight by the tournament committee who sent the best team in the country to the toughest regional.

Kansas Will Win If:  Go to Oklahoma City and not the wrong pod location

Lehigh Will Win If: They shoot 65%+ from three

Player to Watch: Tyshawn Taylor - does the good Tyshawn or the bad Tyshawn show up.


#8 UNLV vs. #9 UNI

What To Watch: The battle of the bigs.  UNLV has depth, UNI has quality.  Who wins out on the interior.  

UNLV Will Win If: They can use their depth to counter the UNI interior and keep the UNI offense from waking up.

UNI Will Win If: Take care of the ball, get to the free throw line and play great defense...all things they do.

Player to Watch: Derrick Jasper - he's a wildcard and a big help for UNLV, is he healthy?


#5 Michigan State vs. # 12 New Mexico State

What To Watch: Does Michigan State look to be in Izzo form for March?

Michigan State Will Win If: They are healthy and avoid an offensive meltdown.

NMSU Will Win If: Find a way to rebound and shoot as well as they are capable of.

Player to Watch: Kalin Lucas - he's the engine for the Spartans.


#4 Maryland vs. #13 Houston

What To Watch: Vasquez and Coleman, just enjoy these two are explosive.

Maryland Will Win If: Take care of the basketball and ride a solid performance from Vasquez to round 2.

Houston Will Win If: Stay hot, force turnovers and get a huge game from Aubrey Coleman

Player to Watch: Same as above, this is a game for individual performances.  Vasquez and Coleman should be a treat to watch.


#6 Tennessee vs. #11 San Diego State

What To Watch: Does it turn into a halfcourt game or do the teams start getting up and down.  

Tennessee Will Win If: Speed it up, limit the affect of the Aztec frontcourt and get after it defensively.

SDSU Will Win If: Find a way to get good possessions, slow the game down and lean on the front court.

Player to Watch: Kawhi Leonard - he's a top 50 recruit at SDSU, playing well as a freshman.


#3 Georgetown vs. #14 Ohio

What To Watch: Which Georgetown do we get?  The one that beats Syracuse or the one that loses to Rutgers.

Georgetown Will Win If: Come out focused and carry the momentum from the Big East tourney into round one.

Ohio Will Win If: Truthfully, Ohio should struggle.  They're are a team who rode a hot conference tournament run but aren't very dangerous in all likelihood.

Player to Watch: Greg Monroe - Kansas was in the hunt for Monroe, he's as complete a big man as you'll find.  Just imagine him on the court with Aldrich and the Morris twins.  Not sure there is enough room, but it'd be fun.


#7 Oklahoma State vs. #10 Georgia Tech

What To Watch: Both teams leave a little to be desired in consistency.  Any hints to which teams showed up?

Oklahoma State Will Win If: James Anderson gets going and the rest of the team is shooting well from outside.

Georgia Tech Will Win If: They exploit the weak OSU interior.  GTech is very talented underneath sometimes they just don't use it very well.

Player to Watch: James Anderson


#2 OSU vs. #15 UCSB

What To Watch: Do the Gauchos get hot and is Even Turner not?

OSU Will Win If: They don't let the Gauchos bother them defensively and Evan Turner gets his.

USSB Will Win If: The shots are falling early and the put some extra pressure on the whole OSU squad.

Player to Watch: Evan Turner


RCT Predictions

Most Likely to Pull an Upset: San Diego State

Most Likely to Pull a Surprise Run: Oklahoma State

Final Four Favorite: Kansas

Underseeded: Georgetown (looking at you Villanova)

Overseeded: Michigan State

Best Team No One Knows About: UNLV  (everyone is focused on UNI)

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