This should be an interesting region with some heavy hitters from Texas at the top of this Midwest bracket.
Who wins the Midwest: Houston
They play elite defense and they are the 11th most efficient offense. This team is deep, it has star power and they play with toughness. My concern is that they will fall prey to the same fate as Gonzaga, where it feels like the lack of a P5 schedule catches up to them in the tournament. But defense translates and will carry the Cougars.
Potential Upset #12 Drake over #5 Miami
I’m taking another 12 over 5 and both are an ACC team losing. Am I crazy? Well, it should be noted that the ACC is very much down this year. And most metrics would rank the Mountain West 1 or 2 spots ahead of the ACC. Also, Miami is one of the most over-seeded teams in the touranment. They really should be an 8 or a 9 seed. I’m going with Drake to get this one.
Also worth watching is Colgate. Taking down Texas is a long-shot, but they are the best three-point shooting team in the country. So take that for what it’s worth. They also don’t foul and they rebound.
Players to Watch
How about a couple of former Gophers. Remember Gabe Kalscheur? He’s in his final season of college basketball and seems to have re-found his three-point shooting stroke. And starting for Texas is Marcus Carr. These two could very well face each other in the Sweet 16.
Jalen Pickett is fun to watch. The 2nd-team All-American does everything for Penn State. They will go as far as he (and their 3-point shooting) takes them. Pickett has just 1 triple-double on the season but he’s been dangerously close several other times.
And last but not least is Marcus Sasser of Houston. A 1st-team All-American who has increased his assists and decreased his turnovers from last year to this one while hitting 38% from three. He missed the conference championship game against Memphis. Unsure about his availability in this first weekend, but Houston will need him if they want to get to the Final Four.
PrizePicks Lock: Oliver Lynch-Daniels OVER 1.5 three-pointers made
This kid has hit over 50% from three this year while attempting over 150 shots. He’s made 52% over the last 2 seasons combined. Is Texas going to be sure to know this and he’s still going to hit a few threes.
Intriguing later-round matchups
Texas potentially has a meeting with Xavier and then with Houston. Both of those should be really enjoyable to watch. Texas has been very good in the nation’s best conference, but they’ll be tested in each round, including Colgate.
Maybe what I find most interesting about this region is that we have both Hurricanes and Cyclones here. But for those of us in the North, the winner of this bracket has to be the Northern Kentucky Norse. A stoic and hearty nickname. Skol!