BRACKET BLOG: Midwest Region

As you might have noticed, I went back and added predictions for all games in the East Region, courtesy of RealTimeRPIKen Pomeroy and Jeff Sagarin. I'll continue doing that for each region, of course.

Follow the jump for discussion of the Midwest Region, a.k.a. the Bracket of Death.

Previous Entry:

The Teams

  1. Kansas Jayhawks
  2. Ohio St. Buckeyes
  3. Georgetown Hoyas
  4. Maryland Terrapins
  5. Michigan St. Spartans
  6. Tennessee Volunteers
  7. Oklahoma St. Cowboys
  8. UNLV Runnin' Rebels
  9. Northern Iowa Panthers
  10. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
  11. San Diego St. Aztecs
  12. New Mexico St. Aggies
  13. Houston Cougars
  14. Ohio Bobcats
  15. UC Santa Barbara Gauchos
  16. Lehigh Mountain Hawks


The Sites

  • Milwaukee, Wis.
  • Oklahoma City, Okla.
  • Providence, R.I.
  • Spokane, Wash.
  • St. Louis, Mo. (Sweet Sixteen | Elite Eight)


The Breakdown

No. 1 Kansas (32-2) vs. No. 16 Lehigh (22-10)
March 18 | 8:30 p.m. | Oklahoma City

Why the Death Bracket, you might ask? Well, surely you've heard the wailing and gnashing of teeth out of Lawrence by now. If not, here's a brief recap. And if that's not salty enough for you, this should do it.

Yes, the committee did Kansas no favors with this (rock) chalky field. Despite being the No. 1 overall seed, a reward that theoretically should carry with it the worst No. 2, 4 and 6 seeds in the tournament, Kansas instead drew:

  • No. 2 seed Ohio State, a Big Ten co-champion that many projected as a potential No. 1 seed, with the likely National Player of the Year, Evan Turner;
  • No. 3 Georgetown, a team that beat Duke, Syracuse and Villanova, and has the talent to reach a Final Four;
  • No. 4 Maryland, the ACC co-champion, featuring ACC Player of the Year Greivis Vasquez;
  • No. 5 Michigan State, another Big Ten co-champion that beat the Jayhawks twice last season;
  • No. 6 Tennessee and No. 7 Oklahoma State, teams that already beat the Jayhawks this season.

Granted, KU only has to face two of those teams, but if it makes the Final Four, it definitely will have earned it.

In the Hawk fight, though, Lehigh should present no trouble.

GAMER: Kansas 80, Lehigh 62
KenPom: Kansas 90, Lehigh 63
Sagarin: Kansas 86, Lehigh 59


No. 2 Ohio State (27-7) vs. No. 15 UCSB (20-9)
March 19 | 8:35 p.m. | Milwaukee

Well, I don't know too much about UCSB, a team Joe Lunardi projected us to play for the longest time.

But I do know that Ohio State beat Minnesota by 30 just the other day, then Minnesota was invited to the tournament.

I know that Evan Turner is a freakishly good player. And I know that Thad Matta has a pretty good history in this event, with multiple teams.

Don't look for a 15-over-2 upset here. (Heck, don't look for one anywhere — it's pretty darn rare.)

GAMER: Ohio State 72, UCSB 61
KenPom: Ohio State 76, UCSB 58
Sagarin: Ohio State 78, UCSB 65


No. 3 Georgetown (23-10) vs. No. 14 Ohio (21-14)
March 18 | 6:25 p.m. | Providence

Ohio is the first of three consecutive teams that won their conference tournaments in upset fashion and now will face top-seeded teams in the first round.

Don't look for the Cinderella story to continue in this game. Georgetown came within a hair's breadth of winning the Big East Tournament and is much better than its record.

GAMER: Georgetown 70, Ohio 61
KenPom: Georgetown 78, Ohio 66
Sagarin: Georgetown 79, Ohio 66


No. 4 Maryland (23-8) vs. No. 13 Houston (19-15)
March 19 | 2:50 p.m. | Jacksonville

Maryland beat Duke and most of the other ACC teams. Houston did approximately nothing until its conference tournament.

Nothing to see here. Move along.

GAMER: Maryland 78, Houston 65
KenPom: Maryland 90, Houston 76
Sagarin: Maryland 88, Houston 77


No. 5 Michigan State (24-8) vs. No. 12 New Mexico State (22-11)
March 19 | 6:20 p.m. | Spokane

Michigan State slid a bit toward the end of the season, but don't be fooled — this still is a very good team.

Furthermore, Tom Izzo's teams always play their best basketball in the NCAA Tournament and the Spartans will be a tough out for anybody, because of their hard-nosed defense.

Meanwhile, New Mexico State probably is a notch better than Houston or Ohio, but that isn't saying too much. When 12s upset 5s, it's usually because they are under-seeded. But 12s that win their conference tournaments in upsets typically are over-seeded, and the Aggies appear to be a perfect example of that.

No upset alerts for the top five seeds? Now you know why this is the Bracket of Death region.

GAMER: Michigan State 68, NMSU 63
KenPom: Michigan State 83, NMSU 71
Sagarin: Michigan State 76, NMSU 67


UPSET ALERT: No. 6 Tennessee (25-8) vs. No. 11 San Diego State (25-8)
March 18 | 8:45 p.m. | Providence

Tennessee and San Diego State have identical records, and while a casual observer might dismiss that by saying that Tennessee played in a better conference, I'm not so sure that's the case.

BYU and New Mexico were ranked for almost all of the season, and the Mountain West received four bids — same as the SEC did.

Yes, Tennessee beat Kansas and Kentucky, but both wins came at home. The Big Dance is played away from home, and I'm hard-pressed to point to one really good win the Volunteers had outside of Knoxville.

Meanwhile, San Diego State spent last week winning a "neutral" tournament against UNLV, on UNLV's home floor, in order to secure a bid that might not otherwise have come. That "win or you're done" attitude continues this week, and it should serve the Aztecs well.

Plus, Steve Fisher has done this before. Anyone remember the Fab Five?

GAMER: Tennessee 69, SDSU 66
KenPom: Tennessee 65, SDSU 64
Sagarin: Tennessee 67, SDSU 64


UPSET ALERT: No. 7 Oklahoma State (22-10) vs. No. 10 Georgia Tech (22-12)
March 19 | 6:15 p.m. | Milwaukee

Oklahoma State appears to be a popular pick for a first-round loss and many people are saying Georgia Tech is a bad match-up for the Cowboys because of how physical the Yellow Jackets' interior is.

Even the three computer systems favor Georgia Tech by a slight margin.

Personally, I don't see it. Marshall Moses and Matt Pilgrim are plenty physical, and there is no way Georgia Tech has a player who can outscore Big 12 Player of the Year James Anderson.

Georgia Tech was an inconsistent program in an inconsistent league, and that doesn't just go away overnight.

Meanwhile, Oklahoma State beat the top four seeds in its league and has the ability to score with any team in the field. I'm a big believer that the Big 12 is going to win most of its first-round games, and this is the perfect example of what I'm talking about.

GAMER: Georgia Tech 69, Oklahoma State 65
KenPom: Georgia Tech 72, Oklahoma State 69
Sagarin: Georgia Tech 65, Oklahoma State 64


UPSET ALERT: No. 8 UNLV (25-8) vs. No. 9 Northern Iowa (28-4)
March 18 | 6:10 p.m. | Oklahoma City

I know I said I don't consider 9-over-8 to be an upset, but if a one-bid league champion knocks off a multi-bid conference's at-large team, it probably qualifies.

That's true even if the former team is as good as UNI and the latter team is as inconsistent as UNLV.

This basically is a 50-50 pick 'em game. Don't sweat it too much — the winner ain't getting past KU.

KenPom: UNI 58, UNLV 57
Sagarin: UNI 55, UNLV 54

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