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BRACKET BLOG: Midwest Region (NCAA Open Thread)

Well, I have a confession to make.

Once I realized that work requirements would make it impossible for me to preview all four regions before Thursday's games began, I decided to push the Midwest Region to the back of the line.

That's because all eight games in the region will be played Friday (and because two of them will involve play-in opponents who didn't play until last night).

I apologize to anyone who actually was planning to rely on my analysis or the predictions I've gathered to finish completing their bracket, but those are the breaks. I'll try to do better next year.

In the meantime, follow the jump for a discussion of the Midwest Region, a.k.a. the Jayhawk Invitational. Not only is Kansas back, but so is Georgetown. Adding to the familiarity is the fact they already played in Maui.


Previous Entries:

The Teams

  1. North Carolina Tar Heels
  2. Kansas Jayhawks
  3. Georgetown Hoyas
  4. Michigan Wolverines
  5. Temple Owls
  6. San Diego St. Aztecs
  7. St. Mary's, Calif. Gaels
  8. Creighton Bluejays
  9. Alabama Crimson Tide
  10. Purdue Boilermakers
  11. N.C. State Wolfpack
  12. South Florida Bulls
  13. Ohio Bobcats
  14. Belmont Bruins
  15. Detroit Titans
  16. Vermont Catamounts


The Sites

  • Columbus, Ohio
  • Greensboro, N.C.
  • Nashville, Tenn.
  • Omaha, Neb.
  • St. Louis, Mo. (Sweet Sixteen | Elite Eight)


The Breakdown

No. 1 North Carolina (29-5) vs. No. 16 Vermont (24-11)
March 16 | 3 p.m. CST | Greensboro | TBS
Jim Nantz | Clark Kellogg

I'm not even going to waste my time. Even Roy Williams isn't that incompetent.

Besides, I think we already got our 16-over-1 scare for the year. Every other No. 1 seed will be on its guard after what Syracuse almost did today.

GAMER: not available
Pomeroy: UNC 79, Vermont 62
Sagarin: UNC 73, Vermont 60


No. 2 Kansas (27-6) vs. No. 15 Detroit (22-13)
March 16 | 8:47 p.m. CST | Omaha | truTV
Marv Albert | Steve Kerr

Some people are liking Detroit to pull off only the fifth-ever upset of a No. 2 seed by a 15, but I'm not among them.

Although Detroit has a nice big man in Eli Holman and an NBA-level wing in Ray McCallum, it's also a Horizon League team that managed to lose 13 games in a down Horizon League.

KU isn't as talented as in years past, but it's not that untalented. Thomas Robinson and Jeff Withey will do their thing, and the Jayhawks will advance.

GAMER: not available
Pomeroy: Kansas 82, Detroit 65
Sagarin: Kansas 79, Detroit 64


UPSET ALERT: No. 3 Georgetown (23-8) vs. No. 14 Belmont (27-7)
March 16 | 2 p.m. CST | Columbus | truTV
Tim Brando | Mike Gminski

Will this finally be the year Belmont breaks through and actually wins a game? The Bruins have been a popular upset pick for a while now, but they keep drawing unfavorable match-ups such as Wisconsin.

Well, Georgetown isn't much better. The Hoyas have one of the best field-goal percentage defenses in the nation.

That's bad news for a smallish low-major that relies on scoring to power its way to wins.

Play it safe and pick Hoya Paranoia to win this one.

GAMER: not available
Pomeroy: G'town 68, Belmont 66
Sagarin: G'town 66, Belmont 64


UPSET ALERT: No. 4 Michigan (24-9) vs. No. 13 Ohio (27-7)
March 16 | 6:20 p.m. CST | Nashville | TNT
Ian Eagle | Jim Spanarkel

I almost took the Bobcats in this one. They're a very under-the-radar team that's sneaky good, and I wasn't impressed with anything I saw out of Michigan last week.

The Wolverines don't rebound well and they don't get to the line. If their 3s aren't dropping, they struggle.

Still, they did manage to work their way to a co-Big Ten championship, so that counts for something. Plus, I suspect Ohio already used up its upset karma for the decade in knocking off Georgetown a few years ago.

GAMER: not available
Pomeroy: Michigan 66, Ohio 61
Sagarin: Michigan 64, Ohio 60


No. 5 Temple (24-7) vs. No. 12 South Florida (21-13)
March 16 | 8:40 p.m. | Nashville | TNT
Ian Eagle | Jim Spanarkel

I have a friend who shall remain nameless that insists the Bulls are going to pull the upset in this one.

Such things shall have to remain a matter of faith, because there's nothing on paper to indicate that could be the case. I don't even think there's that big a difference between the two conferences this year.

USF is a nice story, and I think it's hilarious their win yesterday leaves Nebraska and Northwestern as the only two power-conference teams yet to win a single NCAA Tournament game, but this should be the end of the line.

If so, that leaves VCU over Wichita State as the last, best hope for a No. 12 seed to beat a No. 5 seed.

GAMER: not available
Pomeroy: Temple 60, USF 59
Sagarin: Temple 63, USF 60


UPSET ALERT: No. 6 San Diego State (26-7) vs. No. 11 North Carolina State (22-12)
March 16 | 11:40 a.m. CST | Columbus | truTV
Tim Brando | Mike Gminski

Alright, for all those wondering if I'm ever going to pick some upsets, feast your eyes.

For some reason, I, KenPom and Sagarin all really like N.C. State to beat the Aztecs.

Maybe it's the momentum the Wolfpack had in Atlanta or the way they nearly beat North Carolina.

Maybe it's the fact that they have quite a bit of talent. Maybe it's the fact that, last year's Sweet Sixteen run aside, Steve Fisher hasn't had that much success in the Big Dance since the Fab Five suited up for Michigan.

I just like 'em. Should be a fun game either way.

GAMER: not available
Pomeroy: NCSU 71, SDSU 69
Sagarin: NCSU 70, SDSU 69


UPSET ALERT: No. 7 Saint Mary's (27-5) vs. No. 10 Purdue (21-12)
March 16 | 6:27 p.m. CST | Omaha | truTV
Marv Albert | Steve Kerr

St. Mary's is a really good mid-major, but the Gaels have had some injury troubles of late. I think there are some major match-up advantages that Purdue can exploit.

Matthew Dellavedova is a damn good guard, so Lewis Jackson will have to play within himself and Robbie Hummel will have to have a superstar effort, but I think the Boilermakers can get 'er done.

If the Gaels still had a guy like Omar Samhan, that would be one thing, but they don't. A mid-level Big Ten team ought to be able to present some difficulties.

GAMER: not available
Pomeroy: Purdue 72, SMC 69
Sagarin: Purdue 72, SMC 71


UPSET ALERT: No. 8 Creighton (28-5) vs. No. 9 Alabama (21-11)
March 16 | 12:40 a.m. CST | Greensboro | TBS
Jim Nantz | Clark Kellogg

Creighton doesn't play defense. Alabama has trouble scoring. Whichever team best mitigates its weaknesses and maximizes its strengths will win the right to get decapitated by North Carolina on Sunday.

I like the Crimson Tide. They've been in desperation mode for a month now and they improved their team chemistry by kicking Tony Mitchell off the squad. If they can contain Doug McDermott a little, they can win.

The other key for Alabama is scoring, but that won't be as challenging against a subpar Bluejays defense as it was in the SEC.

And Wichita State's impending collapse makes me realize the Valley has been overvalued all year.

GAMER: not available
Pomeroy: Alabama 68, Creighton 67
Sagarin: Alabama 64, Creighton 63