The Midwest Bracket is led by #1 Kansas. Here is the preview of the first round.
First Round Matchups
7 Rhode Island (25-7) vs. 10 Oklahoma (18-13)
12:15 PM, Thursday – CBS
Oklahoma should have never made it to the tournament. They had their chance to prove to the world that they were ready during the Big 12 but they were bounced in the Battle of Bedlam in Round 1. The only reason they would be in is due to freshman phenom, Trae Young. The team doesn’t pass well and doesn’t play defense. The only way they win is when Young scores 30 points or more, which he did 13 times this season. The Sooners rank dead last in defense, allowing 81.6 points a game, but they did have the second hardest SOS. Rhode Island were the losers of the Atlantic-10 title game and are known to slow teams down and limit their shooting ability, ranking 146th in adjusted tempo. This will be an exciting first game, but there will be no upset.
1 Kansas (27-7) vs. 16 Pennsylvania (24-8)
2 PM, Thursday – TBS
Could this be the year that the 16 seed finally wins? Kansas is easily the worst #1 ranked team in the country and winners of the Big 12 regular season title and the conference championship. Kansas ranked 6th in adjusted offense and had the 6th toughest SOS. Pennsylvania is the winners of the Ivy League and survives on luck, ranking 23rd in Adjusted luck according to KenPom. Kansas relies on the 3 point shot and Penn defends it well. But to conclude, no the 16 seed will not win, but Kansas will not make it past this weekend.
2 Duke (26-7) vs. 15 Iona (20-10)
2:45 PM, Thursday – CBS
This is Duke’s year. I want Grayson Allen to have his moment, only to get his heart ripped out at the end. So can Iona do it? Probably not. Other than Allen, Duke has 4 starters that could go in the 1st round of the NBA draft and the 2nd best player in the nation in Marvin Bagley III. Iona is the MAAC champion and is returning to their 3rd consecutive tournament. But they rank 212 in adjusted defense and luck is never on their side, ranking 239th in adjusted luck. Duke wins round 1.
8 Seton Hall (21-11) vs. 9 NC State (21-11)
4:30 PM, Thursday – TBS
Seton Hall had a good season, beating Indiana, #22 Texas Tech, #17 Louisville, #25 Creighton and Butler but had 2 losses to Villanova and Xavier during conference play before getting bounced in the Big East first round. Seton Hall had the 26th best adjusted offense, 58th best adjusted defense and the 17th toughest SOS. NCState were an average team in the ACC but went 5-3 against top 25 teams. The Wolfpack rank 24th in adjusted offense, 40th in adjusted tempo, and had the 55th toughest SOS. Both these teams have the chance to beat Kansas in the second round, but will need to win this game to get there. This will be a shootout with Seton Hall earning that win in the final 5 minutes.
6 TCU (26-7) vs. 11 Arizona St./Syracuse
6;40 PM, Thursday – TBS
I am writing this before the ASU/Syracuse game, and you can read my prediction here. TCU started the season 12-0 before losing to Oklahoma in the Big 10 opener. The Horned Frogs beat St. Bona, Nevada and Texas Southern. TCU went 9-9 in the Big 12, and never went on another run and eventually lost in to Kansas State in the Big 12 tourney. TCU had the 8th best adjusted offense, behind 5 players that shoot 40% from beyond the arc. I do think that ASU and Syracuse have a chance, but I’ll have a better opinion after watching that game.
3 Michigan St. (29-4) vs. 14 Bucknell (25-9)
7:10 PM, Friday – CBS
Michigan State was one of the better teams in the Big 10 and Tom Izzo is one of the premier tournament coaches. With all that is going back on campus, this could be Izzo’s last year and the Spartans will have to focus to win games in the tournament. If they had won the Big 10 title, MSU could have been a #1 seed. So does Bucknell have a chance? Well they rank 99th in adjusted offense, 121st in adjusted defense and had the 279th worst SOS. They are ranked 100th in KemPom’s rankings and only 4 spots above Illinois. So no, Bucknell won’t win.
4 Auburn (25-7) vs. 13 College of Charleston (26-7)
7:27 PM, Friday – TRU
Auburn is struggling to adjust after losing Danjel Pruifoy during the FBI probe nagging College Basketball this season. The Tigers ended the season in a loss to rival Alabama in the SEC tournament. Auburn is however, for the season, 16th in adjusted offense, 44th in adjusted defense and 21st in adjusted tempo. These numbers have definitely been affected with the loss of Pruifoy. Charleston is the Colonial league’s champs that slow down the ball, ranking 324th in adjusted tempo. Charleston lost their only game against a tournament team by 6 points against a very good Rhode Island team. If Auburn can’t get back to their form by Friday night, EVERYBODY should get ready for an upset.
5 Clemson (23-9) vs. 12 New Mexico St. (28-5)
9:57 PM, Friday – TRU
So far I have picked every single 12 seed to win this year, or at least make it a game. New Mexico State won both the WAC regular season and the WAC conference title. They had the 14th best adjusted defense and 62nd toughest non conference schedule. Clemson on the other hand had the 8th best adjusted defense and the 30th toughest SOS. Clemson is losers of 4 of last 6 and New Mexico St. is 17-3 in the last 20 games. New Mexico is very good team defensively and will force Clemson to tough shots. Huge upset and Clemson will be the last team going home in the 1st round.