Midwest Region Preview
The wait is over and March Madness is finally upon us.
This year’s rendition of the bracket is more challenging than ever to predict due to the high level of parity across the nation this season. There are several high seeds that many do not trust to make a run and some popular cinderella picks as always.
The Midwest region has some of the best first-round matchups in the tournament and some very intriguing potential matchups in the later rounds. There will be one team advancing out of the Midwest region to participate in the Final Four in Houston, Texas, and it just so happens that the No. 1 seed in this region is Houston.
The Cougars finished the regular season 31-3, and have one of the most talented squads in the country. Houston is coming off a loss to Memphis in the AAC tournament championship game, but they will have a great chance to get back on track against No. 16 Northern Kentucky in the first round.
Houston is in a unique position to have a de facto home game in the Final Four, but getting to that point is never easy.
Should they advance, the Cougars would face off against the winner of No. 8 Iowa and No. 9 Auburn. The 8-9 seed games are often intriguing, and this game is no exception. The two squads both have extremely high ceilings, as demonstrated by Auburn’s recent victory over Tennessee and Iowa’s blowout win over Indiana.
Despite their high ceilings, both teams are very inconsistent and have been faltering down the stretch of the season. Both lost to a team that was a lower seed than them in the first round of their conference tournaments, so they are in desperate need of a bounce-back win.
Iowa may have the upper hand in this matchup due to their high-powered offense, but don’t underestimate either of these squads should they get hot, a close game with Houston may be in store.
Moving down the bracket, two great first-round matchups await in the 4-13 and 5-12 games. A potential matchup between No. 5 Miami and No. 4 Indiana awaits in the round of 32, but Drake and Kent State will have something to say about that.
No. 12 Drake and No. 13 Kent State both won at least 27 games and dominated their conference tournaments to gain a massive amount of momentum heading into the tournament. A Miami-Indiana matchup would be a great game with huge stars, but do not count out the upsets here.
The Pitt Panthers won their play-in game against Mississippi State on Tuesday night, and they will now face off against No. 6 Iowa State in the first round. Iowa State had a grueling schedule playing in the Big-12, which has four teams that are a No. 3 seed or better. The Cyclones are not super hot right now, but they are battle tested and should be able to take care of a struggling Pitt team.
No. 3 Xavier drew a matchup with No. 14 Kennesaw State and should have no trouble there avoiding the upset in the first round and will likely set up a great matchup with Iowa State with a trip to the Sweet-16 on the line.
In what just might be the best game in the first round of the tournament, No. 7 Texas A&M faces off against No. 10 Penn State. These two teams may be slightly disappointed about where they landed in the seed line, but none of that matters anymore.
Texas A&M has been dangerous all season long and is looking to prove the committee wrong placing them all the way down as a No. 7 seed. The Nittany Lions are no slouch themselves, just recently nearly upsetting the Purdue Boilermakers in the Big Ten Championship game.
Penn State has won eight of its last 10 and is a dangerous team that nobody wants to see. Penn State relies heavily on the three-ball and Texas A&M loves to crash the glass, so it should be an interesting matchup of contrasting styles.
The winner will play the winner of No. 2 Texas and No. 15 Colgate, two teams who are on a run right now. Texas is fresh off of a Big-12 championship and should take care of business, but Colgate cannot be dismissed as they are the best 3-point shooting team in the country.
There are several underdog teams in the Midwest that could make a deep run, which is what gives this region such intrigue.
While Houston is the favorite to march on to Houston and play in the Final Four, there will be several highly anticipated matchups throughout the region as it plays out.
Jameson Kramer is a fourth-year student majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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