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Breaking Down the Bracket - Midwest Region

The Oregon Fighting Ducks have knocked off Saint Louis, who people were riding to the Sweet 16.  There was a lot of pre-tourny hype surrounding Oregon, but I believed in Saint Louis' ability to play defense.  Louisville and all those riding the Cardinals to the Final Four and the National Championship could be in BIG trouble!

TV Schedule (EST):

Friday, March 29
(W) 1 Louisville vs. 12 Oregon CBS 7:15 pm
(W) 2 Duke vs. 3 Michigan State CBS 9:35pm

*Updates all week, so check back daily

1 Louisville vs 12 Oregon
As I mentioned in the Pre Round of 64 bracket breakdown:
Arsalan Kazemi will be all over the boards in this one
And boy has he ever, he has 33 rebounds in 2 games, including 13 offensive boards!  Damyean Dotson has carried the load offensively with 40 points, shooting 58% and knocking down 8 of his 15 3s.  They have a serious chance of beating the Louisville Cardinals if they continue to play at such a high level.

One thing Louisville has that Oregon doesn't is Rick Pitino.  They also have Russ Smith who has been unstoppable.  Smith, who has totaled 50 points, is 17-31, 5 of 11 from downtown and 11 of 14 from the charity stripe.  Georgi Dieng has not missed on any of his 9 field goal attempts and if any team had the size to stop him, it was Colorado State.  I really like Louisville to win this matchup because they do not rely on the 3 ball.  They attempted just 9 3s against the Rams in the Round of 32 and still won by 26 points.

2 Duke vs 3 Michigan State
Ryan Kelly has been awful in the tournament and that could play a huge factor for Duke against Mich St.  He is just 3-13, has yet to knock down a 3 pointer and has totaled just 9 points.  Seth Curry on the other hand is just ballin right now.  15 of 29 from the floor for 43 points, Seth is trying to mimic his brother Stephen's tournament run at Davidson during the 2008 March Madness.  Mason Plumlee is going to have his hands full in the post with Adriean Payne and Derrick Nix but the Blue Devils will need his best defensive effort.

For the Spartans, that is where this game is won, inside.  Keith Appling and Gary Harris are talented offensive players, but Michigan State will need to dominate the boards to beat Duke.  Nix had 9 offensive rebounds against Valparaiso which led to 23 points.  If he can do that again, the Spartans will be playing in the Elite 8.  This will be a classic game between two of college basketball greatest coaches and will turn a lot of brackets into trash can basketballs!  If you didn't have Lousiville winning the Midwest, you had Duke or Michigan State.

Pre Round of 64

The Midwest Region is lead by the Louisville Cardinals who finished 29-5, won the Big East tournament, and were granted the top overall seed.  However, playing in a bracket with Duke & Michigan State, this is no easy journey to Atlanta.  The only positive is that they will only have to face one of the two powerhouses.

TV Schedule (EST):

Tuesday, March 19
(W) North Carolina A&T vs. Liberty - 6:40 p.m. truTV
Middle Tennessee St. vs. (W) St. Mary's - 9:10 p.m. truTV

Thursday, March 21
(W) 3 Michigan St. vs. 14 Valparaiso - 12:15 p.m. CBS
(W) 4 Saint Louis vs. 13 New Mexico St. - 2:10 p.m. TNT
(W) 6 Memphis vs. Middle Tennessee St. or St. Mary's - 2:40 p.m. CBS
5 Oklahoma St. vs. (W) 12 Oregon - 4:40 p.m. TNT
(W) 1 Louisville vs. 16 North Carolina A&T - 6:50 p.m. TBS
(W) 8 Colorado St. vs. 9 Missouri - 9:20 p.m. TBS

Friday, March 22
(W) 2 Duke vs. 15 Albany - 12:15 p.m. CBS
(W) 7 Creighton vs. 10 Cincinnati - 2:45 p.m. CBS


1 Louisville vs. 16 North Carolina A&T
Pick Distribution: Yahoo (99% Louisville) ESPN (99% Louisville) CBS (100% Louisville)

  • Plug Louisville all the way through to the Elite 8 and then do your research!
    • North Carolina A&T beat Liberty by a point yesterday and now have to figure out how to compete with Russ Smith, Peyton Siva and the rest of the Cardinals.  Gorgui Dieng is going to be a problem for other teams bigs and guards trying to drive the lane.  I'm not sure if I would rather be Louisville playing Saint Louis in the Sweet 16 or Duke playing Michigan St.!
2 Duke vs. 15 Albany
Pick Distribution: Yahoo (97% Duke) ESPN (98% Duke) CBS (99% Duke)
  • Duke will be fine until they face the Michigan St. Spartans in the Sweet 16.  That's when you really need to make a decision in this bracket.
    • If Ryan Kelly never gets hurt, Duke is a #1 seed and probably the favorite to win.  This might be the best matchup of the entire tournament if Duke faces Louisville in the Elite 8.  I just trust this Duke team, lead by 3 seniors and have them beating the Cardinals.
3 Michigan State vs. 14 Valparaiso
Pick Distribution: Yahoo (95% Michigan St.) ESPN (95% Michigan St.) CBS (97% Michigan St.)

  • Michigan State is a tough team to score points on and with their aggressive defense comes turnovers.  Valparaiso is not very good at protecting the ball.  Ride the Spartans to the Sweet 16 against the Duke Blue Devils. 
    • Keith Appling, Adrien Payne and Derrick Nix are as experienced as any player in the tournament.  Mixing in freshman Gary Harris this season adds more offensive fire power for the Spartans   But Michigan St has struggled against top ranked teams which is why I don't see them beating Duke.
4 Saint Louis vs. 13 New Mexico State
Pick Distribution: Yahoo (87% Saint Louis) ESPN (88% Saint Louis) CBS (91% Saint Louis)
  • New Mexico loves to turn the ball over, and Saint Louis is one of the nations best defensive teams.  This is a terrible mismatch for the Aggies and the Billikens should have no trouble until they face Louisville in the Sweet 16.
    • Dwayne Evans will have to carry the load offensively if Saint Louis plans on actually making a run.  They beat Butler three times and VCU twice, so they are no joke.
5 Oklahoma State vs. 12 Oregon
Pick Distribution: Yahoo (59% Oklahoma St.) ESPN (58% Oklahoma St.) CBS (61% Oklahoma St.)

  • Before I watched Oregon play UCLA, I would give them no chance.  But that Pac 12 championship win over UCLA changed my mind, when they knocked down 7 of their 14 3s.  If there was ever a 12/5 upset that you felt needed to be selected, this would be a good one.  Either way, a matchup with Saint Louis awaits the winner and that would be a tough game to win.
    • As offensively talented these two teams are, the game will be won on the defensive end.  If the Ducks can rough up Marcus Smart and force him into bad shots, they will keep the Cowboys in a position they can't come back from.  Markel Brown is the guy Oregon needs to keep the ball away from.  Arsalan Kazemi will be all over the boards in this one.
6 Memphis vs. 11 Saint Mary’s
Pick Distribution: Yahoo (87% Memphis) ESPN (87% Memphis) CBS (91% Memphis)
  • Even though the pick distribution is heavily favoring Memphis, plenty of experts are saying that either Middle Tennessee or St. Marys could easily upset Memphis.  But either way, the Michigan St. Spartans would be their next opponent and none of these 3 teams will take them down.  If you are looking to add an upset, try this one, as it won't affect the rest of your bracket. 
    • Saint Mary's took down Middle Tennessee State and now has to face the Tigers.  As expected, PG Matthew Delladova took over for the Gaels and dropped 22 on the Blue Raiders.  He will need a similar performance to best Memphis.  The one glaring hole for Saint Marys is that they used just a single bench player for more than 8 minutes.  Eventually that will take its toll. 
7 Creighton vs. 10 Cincinnati
Pick Distribution: Yahoo (52% Creighton) ESPN (54% Creighton) CBS (58% Creighton)
  • One of the more interesting matchups in this bracket, but I would go with Creighton.  They are one of the better shooting teams in the nation, and won't have to worry about the Bearcats bigs grabbing a ton of defensive rebounds, limiting their second chances.  It will be a different story on the defensive end, where Cincinnati is NOT one of the better shooting teams, but rebound the ball with the best of them and thrive on second chance points.  Either way, the winner will have a tough matchup with Duke in the Round of 32 so don't stress!
    • Cincy holds their opponents under 60 points per game, but doing that to a team featuring Doug McDermott is nearly impossible.  The Bluejays are too much on the offensive end for the Bearcats to handle.  The only chance Cincinnati has is if Creighton uncharacteristically starts missing shots.  Sean Kilpatrick is too streaky to single handily take over the game.
8 Colorado State vs. 9 Missouri
Pick Distribution: Yahoo (66% Missouri) ESPN (65% Missouri) CBS (64% Missouri)
  • The victor is one and done as they will face Louisville in the Round of 32.  I wouldn't stress so much on this game, and after you make a decision, move on.
    • Colorado State start 5 seniors and features 6'10 Colton Iverson.  Alex Oriakhi will have his hands full but the UCONN transfer has the necessary experience to help lead Mizzou to a W.  The Tigers have 6 guys who average at least 10 points per game.
Potential Bracket Buster:
4 Saint Louis Billikens - If they can take down the #1 overall seed Louisville Cardinals in the Sweet 16
Potential National Champions:
1 Louisville Cardinals
2 Duke Blue Devils

Breaking Down the East Region
Breaking Down the West Region
Breaking Down the South Region