Midwest Region Breakdown

  1. North Carolina
  2. Kentucky
  3. Houston
  4. Kansas

Sleeper team to win: Houston Cougars

Houston enters the Midwest region as the #3 seed but seems to be overlooked in a region full of bluebloods Kansas, North Carolina and Kentucky. Houston losing to Cincinnati in the American Conference Championship game is the last thought we have of the Cougars, but this team is legit.  Winning their conference regular season championship while also having non-conference victories over Utah State, LSU and Oregon (with Bol Bol).  Houston has a legit star in Corey Davis Jr. and a veteran coach in Kelvin Sampson.  They are also very deep, playing 9 players over 20 minutes per game.   A potential third round matchup with the offensive minded Iowa State and Kentucky will make their road difficult but being a upperclassman lead team will put them in great shape to make a run.

Potential first round upset: New Mexico State over Auburn

Auburn is riding high after their dominate victory over Tennessee in the SEC Championship game.  They now have to face a New Mexico State team that has quietly been playing some of the best basketball in the country. New Mexico State has not lost since January 3rd and ran through their conference tournament dominating Grand Canyon in the final 89-57. 

Auburn has great talent but they rely a lot on the three ball, they will also be traveling to Salt Lake City which will force them to deal with the elevation change. New Mexico State has experience playing in that atmosphere.  Bruce Pearl’s team cannot look past the Aggies, if they do they will be ripe for the upset.

Who will win: Kentucky

A fully healthy Kentucky team has shown what they can do on the national scene. The Wildcats have a strong leader in Reid Travis and have seen great development from Ashton Hagans and Tyler Herro. The potential matchup with North Carolina would be an epic battle between two teams that can easily see themselves winning it all.  The advantage I see for the Wildcats is their depth.  This bracket is the most competitive and will feature some great matchups.

Second Round Picks:

North Carolina

Utah State

New Mexico State

Kansas

Iowa State

Houston

Seton Hall

Kentuck

I Talk Sports Picks- NCAAF

After a few tough weeks of NFL I have decided to separate my NCAA picks.  Last week I went 7-2 with a lot of late picks cashing, including Michigan State, Stanford and Wisconsin.  Here are the five picks I that jumped out to me first.

Syracuse at Clemson -25

Syracuse enters this matchup at 4-0 for the first time since 1991.  Matching up with the beasts of the ACC the Clemson Tigers on Saturday will be a true test to see where the program is.  While Clemson deals with the semi-distraction of the transferring Kelly Bryant they can’t look past this he Orange. The Orange are trying to prove that last year’s win over Clemson wasn’t a fluke and that they’re a legitimate ACC contender. A win this Saturday would most certainly do that and potentially land them in the Top 25 for Week 6.

You can be bold here and take Syracuse to upset Clemson, but I am not that bold.  I do think this spread is a bit large for this matchup.  Syracuse is good and they should keep this close.

PicksSyracuse +25

Indiana -16.5 at Rutgers

Rutgers got blown out by Kansas.   That’s Kansas Football.  With basically no passing game.  After a nice start to the season against Texas State Scarlet Knight quarterbacks have combined to complete just 44% of their passes with no touchdowns, five interceptions, and absolutely nothing happening down the field.

This is more about how bad Rutgers is then how good Indiana is.  Don’t worry about where the number goes right now you have to fade Rutgers no matter what.

PicksIndiana -16.5

Oklahoma State -17 at Kansas

I have picked on Kansas all year.  It finally paid off versus Baylor.  This weekend it will pay off again as the Cowboys come to town.  This is a simple case of to much offense for Kansas to stay afloat in this one. Oklahoma State quarterback Taylor Cornelius has thrown for 1,229 yards, eight touchdowns and four interceptions. Justice Hill leads the Cowboys in rushing with 388 yards and five touchdowns. The leading receiver is Tylan Wallace with 442 yards and two touchdowns. Tyron Johnson has 206 receiving.

This is the best offense Kansas has seen and they will have no answers for it.  Oklahoma State literally doubles total yardage both rushing and receiving on a game to game basis.  OK State takes over early and never looks back.

PicksOklahoma State -17

Arkansas vs Texas A&M -21 (Neutral Site)

Arkansas has been down right embarrassing to start the season scoring just 47 points over their last 3 games while giving up 112 to opposing offenses.  They now get a matchup with a Texas A&M team that has been averaging 300 passing yards and 250 rushing yards a game.   The Aggies have also covered in its last five games.

This will be a chance to Texas A&M to run up a score on a team that looks to have all but given up any chance of winning this season.

PicksTexas A&M -21

Pittsburgh at Central Florida -13.5

In last weeks game against North Carolina, the Panthers defense stayed home and allowed 476 total yardage against a North Carolina squad that had been struggling and battling injuries.  They now face arguably the best offense in college football when they face the “National Champion” Central Florida Knights.

I am going to keep it simple here.  Central Florida at home steamrolls a struggling defense.  Mac Milton throws for 330yards and 4TD’s.

PicksCentral Florida -13.5

 

Final Four Picks

Loyola- Chicago Ramblers vs. Michigan Wolverines (-5.5)

The Final Four begins on Saturday with a matchup of two teams that play a similar style.  Strong defense and efficient shooting will be the name of the game.  While this game is not considered the main course of the evening it will be the most expensive appetizer the menu can offer.

When breaking down the South Region of the NCAA tournament bracket I listed Loyola-Chicago as a potential bracket buster.  When I said that I really only saw them winning the first two rounds.  They have shocked myself and the world be making it all the way through the region.  Last second shoots and supreme offensive and defensive basketball lead them to the Final Four, no one can argue they earned it.  Miami had better athletes, Tennessee was better defensively, Nevada had multiple better scorers, and Kansas State was just bigger, but none of that mattered to the Ramblers besting each playing their brand of basketball.  Talk all you want about Sister Jean, this team is good and they have a great chance on Saturday. But I have to follow my instinct on this game.

While the Ramblers are a great story, every story has two possible endings.  Happy or Sad.  Saturday the Michigan Wolverines will play the role of antagonist.  Talk all you want about Michigan having an “easy” journey to the Final Four.  They took care of business in each game the way their fellow higher seeds could not.  They imposed their will on other teams by smothering them defensively and hitting the big shots.  Moritz Wagner will force the lone big man for the Ramblers Caleb Krutwig out of the paint which will open up lanes for Charles Mathews to drive with little to no resistance.  Clayton Custer will still make plays but to see another day of above 50% shooting against a John Beilen coached team is just not believable.

The Ramblers will keep it close but eventually Michigan will impose their will on the smaller team. I see Michigan winning by double digits, I will take the 5.5 and run with it.

Michigan to win and taking the points -5.5

Kansas Jayhawks vs. Villanova Wildcats (-5)

While chaos was the theme of the South and West sides of the bracket, two #1 seeds made their way out to the East and Midwest.  A battle of two top programs as well as top coaches of our generation takes place on Saturday as the Jayhawks take on the Wildcats. This is the main event of the evening and the world seems split on who will come out on top.

Senior guards will be the main focus with AP Player of the Year Villanova’s Jalen Brunson takes on All-Big 12 point guard Devonte Graham.  Villanova has made already taken down two top level Big12 teams defeating both West Virginia and Texas Tech on their way to the Final Four and all the advantages seem to lean towards Nova in this matchup.  Multiple scoring options for Villanova make them very dangerous. I believe they will look to attack Udoka Azubuike early to force Bill Self to put in freshman Silvio De Sousa.  De Sousa showed immaturity in the Elite Eight matchup with Duke nearly costing Kansas the game. If De Sousa is forced into actions and makes similar mistakes Villanova has the experience to bury the Jayhawks.

I am a huge fan of the job Bill Self has done this year. He has taken his least talented team in years to the Final Four.  That has to be respected.  Ultimately Villanova is the better team and will advance.  While I believe Villanova will advance I am looking at Kansas to cover the 5 points.

Villanova Wins, Kansas covers +5

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Midwest Region: Champions Classic Region

The Midwest Region will give us a matchup of blue blood teams.  Featuring three of the teams that participate in the Champions Classic at the beginning of the season.  Kansas, Duke and Michigan State will compete in a bracket that is clearly top heavy.  Matt Boeding and I looked at this region, we are ready to break it down!

First Round Upsets to watch: New Mexico State over Clemson, College of Charleston over Auburn, Kansas second round (Seriously)

Potential Bracket Buster: New Mexico State Aggies

Clemson had a great season, but they have been scuffling down the stretch, 3-5 in their last eight games. New Mexico State plays aggressive defense they are 6th in the nation in effective field goal percentage defense. New Mexico State has proven that they can hang with the power conferences this season. The Aggies upended Miami on Dec. 23 and fell by only five points to USC two days later. We saw recently in Clemson’s matchup with Virginia that they can be held in check on offense.  New Mexico State will bring it, Clemson will have to have a big performance from Gabe Davoe.  This will be our 12 over 5 upset.

Most Intriguing Potential Matchup: Duke Blue Devils vs The Fighting Trae Young’s

I am a believer that Oklahoma shouldn’t have made this tournament.  But they are in so who doesn’t want to see Trae Young vs, Marvin Bagley? Rhode Island might have a backcourt that can combine to rival Young’s offensive firepower. In Jared Terrell, the Rams have a first-team all-Atlantic 10 guard who can strain defenses by knocking down three-point shots, getting to the free-throw line and converting his attempts once there at a favorable rate. And at full strength, fellow senior E.C. Matthews gives Rhode Island another dangerous perimeter scorer. The Rams are going to have their hands full trying to contain Young, but Oklahoma also has to reckon with a big defensive challenge.  But when you have the dynamic talent of Trae Young you have to think that Young will overcome a Rhode Island team that we believe is a bit overrated.

Duke has had a problem with dominate guards for the last few seasons.Grayson Allen’s length will be an asset if Coach K decides to go man to man vs Oklahoma, but with Duke’s tendencies to switch on screens we may see a lot of Young vs Bagley which will be a problem for Marvin.  Duke should handle an Oklahoma team that is a one trick pony.  Still this game will be marketed through the roof.

Bracket Winner: Duke-Kansas

I know this isn’t a pick but we couldn’t agree on a winner of this bracket.  Kansas has looked dominate over the last few weeks.  There is no way the Jayhawks should have won the Big12 Tournament without Azubuike, but they did.  Devonte Graham is a true leader in college basketball, he can lead this team very far.

The problem I see with Kansas is Duke or Michigan State can be a tough matchup for them. The bigs will be dominate against KU.  Whether it is Bagley and Carter or Michigan States 20 different bigs they throw at you Kansas does not have the depth to handle the offensive skill sets.  I love a senior guard, I picked KU, Matt picked Duke.