Selection Sunday is in the books. The field of 68 is set. Now, the fun of the NCAA Tournament 2017 can begin! So get your brackets out, because it is time to fill them out!
The number two overall seed has been awarded to the Kansas Jayhawks of the Big 12 Conference. As a result, Kansas will be the number one seed in the Midwest Region. But there is much more to a region than just its one seed. So let’s take a look at who else will be fighting to make it to the Final Four out of this Midwest Region.
The regions matchups can be seen below.
16) NC Central/UC Davis
9) Michigan State
5) Iowa State
11) Rhode Island
10) Oklahoma State
15) Jacksonville State
So with those eight matchups set, it is time to get into the good stuff. Without getting too deep into any numbers, here are some of my initial impressions when I saw this section of the bracket released.
Do not put all of your chips in the Kansas basket
Kansas has been a team I have been against for most of the season. They cannot shoot free throws. They do not have much depth. And they proved their vulnerability in their loss to TCU in their opening game of the Big 12 Tournament. Yes, they were without Josh Jackson in that one, but that just brings me back to the depth issue.
So looking ahead at their region, I see several teams capable of taking them down. Miami has some big physical guys. If they can get Kansas into some foul trouble, things may not end well for the Jayhawks. Then we get to Iowa State and Purdue, who are both teams I am high on. If they can survive the top half of the bracket, the bottom half does not strike me as scary.
But the point here is, Kansas is no lock for the Final Four, nor the Elite Eight. Many people will be riding them all the way to the end given they are the number two overall seed. But not me. You will not see them in the Final Four on any of my brackets.
Iowa State and Purdue could both make a deep run, or lose their first game
My worst nightmare came true in this region. Two bigger names schools that I really like are facing off with two smaller conference teams that I am also high on. As a result, I am completely torn on how to pick those games. Iowa State proved in the Big 12 Conference Tournament, they know how to win in this type of environment. But they draw Nevada, a team that stood out in the Mountain West. Then we have Purdue, who have two
Iowa State proved in the Big 12 Conference Tournament, they know how to win in this type of environment. But they draw Nevada, a team that stood out in the Mountain West. Then we have Purdue, who have two monster big men. But they draw Vermont, also known as my favorite small conference team.
So when filling out my bracket, I will be very tempted to move Iowa State to the Final Four in one bracket. The next bracket I will do that with Purdue. But in the back of my head, I know that could come crumbling down in one game.
Rhode Island may be this region’s sleeper
Rhode Island is only here because they won the A10 Conference Tournament. But that goes to show how well they are playing right now. Every year there is a team that people point to and say, “They should not even be in”. Then that team goes on to make a great run. Just look to last season with Syracuse.
They draw an opening game against Creighton. Creighton is a team that opened the year strong, but had their season falter a bit with an early season injury. They simple are not as good as they could be. They were blown out by Nova in the Big East final. While they are not a bad team, they are certainly a beatable six.
After that, Rhode Island may be facing Oregon. The Ducks are without one of their top players, Chris Boucher, who is out with an ACL injury. So if Oregon comes out and proves they are not the same without one of their top players, things could be set up real nicely for the Rams.
Louisville’s path is not as easy as it may seem
Many people will look at this bottom portion of the bracket and say it is Louisville’s to lose. Now as the two, that should be true. But not so fast. There are several potential pitfalls, which Louisville needs to take seriously if they want to avoid an upset.
For starters, I like Michigan and Oklahoma State a little bit. Michigan is playing extremely well right now. That is evident by their winning of the Big 10 Conference Tournament. Oklahoma State is one of those teams who has pretty solid stats. So that second game is far from a cakewalk for the Cardinals, no matter who wins that one.
Oregon was a team that was under consideration for a one seed prior to their loss to Arizona and the Boucher injury. So they are still a very talented team. Hence, a game against them is also far from an easy pick. So do not pick Louisville blindly.
So there you have it folks. Those were my thoughts upon seeing the bracket for the first time. Some of these thoughts may change a little after looking deeper into the numbers. But they always say go with your gut. And this is what my gut says!
What do you think? Tell us in the comments!