Monday, March 13, 2017

Complete Midwest Region Analysis

My Picks:
16. North Carolina Central over 16. UC Davis

1. Kansas over 16. North Carolina Central
9. Michigan State over 8. Miami-Florida
5. Iowa State over 12. Nevada
4. Purdue over 13. Vermont
11. Rhode Island over 6. Creighton
3. Oregon over 14. Iona
10. Oklahoma State over 7. Michigan
2. Louisville over 15. Jacksonville State

1. Kansas over 9. Michigan State
4. Purdue over 5. Iowa State
3. Oregon over 11. Rhode Island
10. Oklahoma State over 2. Louisville

4. Purdue over 1. Kansas
10. Oklahoma State over 3. Oregon

4. Purdue over 10. Oklahoma State


The Midwest is a good region in which to pick an upset: Stay away from the weakest 1 seed, and the weakest 1 seed statistically is Kansas. Oregon would be an acceptable 3 seed if they were healthy, but they have lost crucial defensive big man Chris Boucher. The 6 seed Creighton is also missing a key player in Mo Watson. At the same time, Oklahoma State is a ridiculously strong 10 seed, and Michigan State is a 9 seed with some elite top end talent and which has survived a gauntlet of a schedule. You are not going to win a large bracket pool by picking 1 and 2 seeds to the Final Four, so if you want to go with an upset Final Four team I'd do it in the Midwest.

Stay away from Creighton: It has been impressive the way that Creighton has held the ship together without Mo Watson, but the fact is that they haven't been quite as good as they were with him. Their computer ratings have been slowly fading over the last two months, when they've been just 8-9 overall. Their saving grace has been outside shooting, as they've hit 40% behind the arc for the season, but Rhode Island led the Atlantic Ten in defensive 3PA/FGA ratio.

Purdue is a really tough match-up for Iowa State: Purdue has a ton of size, and I'm not entirely sure how Iowa State is going to deal with that. Freshman Solomon Young is 6'8" and has come on and played a lot of minutes over the last month, but he's no match for Caleb Swanigan or Isaac Haas. Iowa State's only hope is hitting a ton of outside shots, but Purdue is one of the better three-point defensive teams in the nation.

Oklahoma State is a crazy dangerous 10 seed: The Cowboys are 24th in Pomeroy, and have been playing their best basketball over the past couple of months due to the emergence of Jawun Evans as perhaps the best point guard in the nation. Their defense is bad, but their path ahead is not particularly difficult as far as 10 seed draws go, particularly with Oregon losing Chris Boucher.

If you want a more conventional Final Four team, take Louisville: If you're in a bracket competition with hundreds of contenders or more, then you need to pick some goofy Final Four teams. If you're in a bracket competition with just a few friends then you might want to avoid an Elite 8 with a 4 and 10 seed in it. So if you want a more conventional Final Four team out of the Midwest, I would recommend taking Louisville. They have to survive that difficult Oklahoma State game, but after that they have a soft and short-handed 3 seed as their toughest possible Sweet 16 opponent, and are in the region with the weakest 1 seed. Louisville is much more balanced than some of Rick Pitino's other recent teams have been, and they were 4th in the ACC in offensive efficiency despite lacking a go-to playmaker like Russ Smith or Peyton Siva. Louisville is the highest Pomeroy-rated team in the Midwest, so you can't go too wrong by taking them.

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