NCAA Tournament Group Picks: Midwest Region
Only Illinois fans could capture something like this, but if the Illini make it to the Final Four, it will have been exactly 16 years since their last appearance on that stage, in 2005, which came exactly 16 years after their previous Final Four. trip, in 1989. And, if you believe this sort of thing, the Illini lost in the 1989 semi-finals to rival Michigan, then lost in the 2005 championship game to North Carolina and therefore should win it all this year. . (If you’re curious, the 1973 Illinois basketball team finished 5-18.) So this is something new. If it is a thing.
Team from all over the region
|Come on Dosunmu||guard||Illinois|
|Cade cunningham||guard||State of oklahoma|
|Derek Culver||Center||West Virginia|
MARCH MADNESS: Get Your NCAA Tournament Bracket Printable
Best First Round Game
No. 8 Loyola-Chicago vs. No. 9 Georgia Tech. The Jackets destroyed Florida State’s offense in the ACC Tournament final by forcing 25 turnovers. The Ramblers don’t even turn half as often, preferring a languid pace that ranks 342 in a season that had – check notes – 347 teams competing. Can the Jackets speed up the Ramblers? Don’t count on that. They call them Ramblers for a reason.
Sown too high
No. 9 Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets celebrated their first ACC Tournament title since 1993 with Saturday’s victory over Florida State for the championship. But in terms of the NCAA seed, Georgia Tech was punished for winning. Virginia Tech, which lost to North Carolina in the quarterfinals, received a No. 10 seed that allows it to avoid the best teams in the tournament until the regional final, in the unlikely event that the Hokies go that far. Still, it’s better than getting stuck in an 8-9 war whose winner will be asked to face a team from Illinois that is considered one of the tournament favorites. Congratulations, Jackets. And good luck.
Sown too low
Oklahoma State No. 4. This was the worst committee decision on the board, even more so than the inclusion of Utah State as the No. 11 seed when it is the least qualified team on the field. OK State was 10-6 in Quad 1 games. The record for the four teams at the No. 3 line: Kansas 7-8, Arkansas 6-5, West Virginia 7-7 and Texas 8-6. Head-to-head isn’t the only factor, but the Cowboys defeated WVU twice in the space of five days, neither of those wins coming at home. Especially since it would have been so easy to trade the Mountaineers and Cowboys in support, as they come from the Big 12 Conference itself, it’s puzzling that the committee came to this conclusion. It sucks for the state of Oklahoma, and maybe even more so for the No. 1 seed Illinois. Remember what happened when the committee misplaced Michigan State as the second seed in the Duke region in 2019? The No. 1 overall seed fell to Elite Eight. Isn’t the idea of seeding to avoid making it harder for the best teams?
No. 11 Syracuse over No. 6 in the state of San Diego. It is impossible not to love the program that the Aztecs have built. The project started two decades ago when Steve Fisher lifted them from the rubble and made them an NCAA regular, and then Brian Dutcher succeeded him and kept them at an elite level. But the Syracuse area has magic in this event. When you haven’t seen it before, you don’t know how to attack. You might hit some of the early jump shots and think you’ve got it figured out, but those shots will eventually be harder to find. This is not the best edition of that defense. But it will continue to be difficult for an Aztec squad that is not exceptional on offense.
Best potential game
Illinois vs. Oklahoma State in the Sweet 16. The Fighting Illini will have to fight for their lives to survive this game. The Cowboys boast perhaps the most dangerous player of the entire tournament in Cade Cunningham, a 6-8 point guard who won a rivalry game against Oklahoma with a 40-point performance and went 25 (in the semifinals) and 29 ( final) in the Big 12 Tournament. Illinois has become one of the most oppressive defensive teams in college basketball. And Illini will force OK State to deal with Kofi Cockburn 6-11, who has killed more often than any other player in the nation this season because it’s so hard to stay away from the rim. We will enjoy watching this game, but it would have been more fun in Elite Eight, knowing that the winner would head to the Final Four and the loser at least got a fair chance.
Better match of potential players
Cade Cunningham, Oklahoma, vs. Ayo Dosunmu, Illinois. It’s hard to say how much they would defend each other if this showdown occurred. Every coach must be careful when exposing their star player to such a demanding load on defense. But having them on the same court, two of the top five college basketball players, would be something. (Did I mention that it’s too bad it happens on Sweet 16 instead of Elite Eight?)
Get to know
Rutgers guard Geo Baker. He came to campus four years ago hoping to elevate the Scarlet Knights to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1991. It seemed his excellent backcourt play would help end that drought at age 29. But then the pandemic came and the 2020 NCAA Tournament was gone. The depth of the Big Ten and the strength of the league at the top made fulfilling that mission an even greater challenge this year. But Rutgers got a No. 10 seed with his 15-11 record. “Let’s Dance,” Baker tweeted, with three adjacent heart emojis. And he put a lot of heart into doing this.
Don’t be surprised if. . .
Loyola steals the spotlight for at least the first weekend. The 2018 Final Four darling is back in the tournament as the Missouri Valley Conference champion and the eighth seed in the Midwest. Sister Jean, the nun who became the media sensation of March Madness three years ago, looks forward to attending the Ramblers game or games in Indy. The Cameron Krutwig center, now a senior, is at the heart of his success once again.
Clemson. The only team that has had a season half as strange is Missouri. Maybe it’s something about calling themselves the Tigers. Clemson beat No. 2 seed Alabama, No. 4 seed Purdue and No. 4 seed Florida State. He also lost to seeded Miami in the ACC Tournament and was just 11-7 in what was considered a mediocre conference. Maybe that’s how it will be when a team has as many offensive challenges (99th in efficiency) like this one. However, this team could win a couple of games. Rutgers struggles to score nearly as much, and Memphis proved twice in one week that No. 2 seed Houston is extremely beatable.
Final Four selection
Illinois. The Fighting Illini figure will be forced to overcome the poor committee decision at Oklahoma State, but this is a team ideally built to win a national championship: elite defense, excellent deep shot, big man in the middle, players who star in their roles. and multiple playmakers, including a high-level talent in Ayo Dosunmu who can take over a game when needed. Illinois hasn’t had a chance to achieve greatness like this in 16 years. You don’t want to wait until 2037 to win a title.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.