March Madness: Midwest Region Preview

Story posted March 19, 2021 in Sports, CommRadio by Adam Sheetz

It’s March, and that means it is time for the madness to begin. The Midwest Region in this year’s tournament is sure to be one of the most interesting regions in the tournament.

The No. 1 seed in the region is Illinois. The Fighting Illini dominated in Indianapolis during the Big Ten tournament with convincing wins over Rutgers and Iowa, capping off their title run with an overtime win over Ohio State. They are led by the best one-two punch in the nation with guard Ayo Dosunmu and big Kofi Cockburn. Illinois surrounds their two stars with great role players that include Trent Frazier and Adam Miller. Backup big Giorgi Bezhanishvili is also vital for the Fighting Illini, giving Illinois a spark when Cockburn goes to the bench. Illinois is an extremely talented team that is playing its best basketball right now, and the Illini are ready to make a run for a national title.

The team that is getting a lot of attention in the Midwest Region as a potential underdog is Loyola Chicago. The Ramblers were the Cinderella team to remember in 2018 when they made an incredible run to the Final Four. The Ramblers are also known for team chaplain Sister Jean, who will be joining the team in Indianapolis this week. The Ramblers have had an incredible year and are a fan favorite for the NCAA Tournament.

The Midwest Region will also feature the projected top pick in the NBA draft with Oklahoma State guard Cade Cunningham. Cunningham appears to have an extremely bright future, and a great run in the NCAA Tournament could really propel him to superstardom. The NCAA Tournament has been taken over in the past by freshmen like Carmelo Anthony and Pervis Ellison, and Cunningham looks to join that list and lead his team to a national title this year.

A possible sleeper team in the Midwest is Syracuse. The Orange are led by coach Jim Boeheim, who has had a lot of success in the tournament. Syracuse is known for its 2-3 zone defense, which is extremely tough to play against. The Orange had a memorable run to the Final Four in 2016 as well as a great run that ended in a national title in 2003 with Carmelo Anthony. The Orange come into the tournament as an 11 seed and really could make another Cinderella run this year.

The team that is extremely tough to evaluate in the region is No. 2 seed Houston. The Cougars have been great this year and have a 24-3 record to show for it, but they have not played elite competition since Texas Tech back in November. Houston plays in the American Athletic Conference, which does not have many high quality opponents for the Cougars to compete against. Wichita State is the only other American team to reach the Tournament, making the Cougars a tough team to evaluate. Houston has a lot of talent and has won a lot of games, but the Cougars need to prove themselves in the Tournament to gain the respect of the college basketball world.

The Midwest Region has a lot of talent and multiple teams that can win a national title, making this an intriguing region to watch this March.

 

Adam Sheetz is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email ads360@psu.edu.

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Adam Sheetz

Freshman / Broadcast Journalism

Adam D. Sheetz is a freshman from Reedsville, Pennsylvania majoring in broadcast journalism. I am a writer and on-air personality for the CommRadio sports department. His writings include Heisman Watch articles, Around the SEC, Around the ACC and Penn State football content. He was an intern doing color commentary for baseball, football and field hockey for WCHX 105.5 in Mifflin County, Pennsylvania. If you’d like to contact him, email him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).