The Midwest bracket is perhaps one of the toughest brackets in the tournament, and not in the sense that the West is tough. The West bracket is tough from a standpoint that it’s tough to predict, while the Midwest is tough to endure as it’s loaded with both solid teams in high seeds and upsets threats in lower seeds.
No. 1 Seed:
Louisville’s road to the Final Four isn’t impossible but it’s not going to be the easiest road either. The Cardinals snagged the top overall seed but it might not be because they’re the best team but rather the only respectable team getting a No. 1 seed. But the Cardinals are flying high right now and they’re one of the hottest teams in college basketball at the moment, which is really the only requirement you need in order to make a deep run. They’ve got experience, they’ve got talent and they’re hot which equates to a dangerous team that won’t cool off until at least the Elite Eight.
[RELATED: West Region Preview]
For some reason the Oregon Ducks were given a bubble seed and drew the No. 12 slot in the Midwest. But already analysts are predicting that Oregon will be dangerous to deal with and they’re poised to make a deep run in their bracket. Their first opponent is Oklahoma State, who aren’t a bad team but also aren’t heavily favored to win. Oregon out hustles and outlasts their opponents and that’s bad news for the sluggish Cowboys and the New Mexico State and the offensively challenged Saint Louis Billikens. They won’t make it to the Final Four, but the Ducks are going to spoil a lot of fun fir higher seeds up until they’re ultimately beaten by Louisville.
But speaking of Saint Louis, the Billikens are looking at playing the Ducks in the third round, and it could end up being one of the better games of the tournament. Saint Louis is a motivated team, as the death of head coaching legend Rick Majerus is the fire fueling them on this run they’re on. As a No. 4 seed it’s tough to call them a cinderella, but if they can play lock down defense, an upset over Louisville is not out of the question for this emotionally motivated squad.
[RELATED: South Region Preview]
It’s tough to call a No. 10 seed a weak seed, as it’s not a particularly high ranking. But the Cincinnati Bear Cats will undoubtedly run into trouble immediately if they manage an upset over Creighton in the second round. They can’t shoot and they force themselves to make up for it by grabbing offensive boards. The same can be said for Oklahoma State, who have struggled all season with consistency beyond the arc. The NCAA doesn’t always seed teams as well as they should and Oklahoma State’s No. 5 seed is an example of that, but Memphis drawing the sixth seed in the region deserves an even bigger raise of the eyebrow. The Tigers aren’t that great from the stripe and defensively they’re not the best team either, and you have to look no further than Southern Mississippi almost upsetting them in the Conference USA title game for proof.
All three teams possess the potential to win their Round of 64 matchups, but they more than likely will be tested to their limits en route to said victory. When it comes to the likes of Oklahoma State and Cincinnati in particular, you may be better off getting them off your bracket in the first round as both are candidates to be beaten, while Memphis isn’t poised to last much further than the Round of 32.
[RELATED: East Region Preview]
Last Two Standing:
Without a doubt the two strongest seeds in the region are Rick Pitino’s Louisville Cardinals and Tom Izzo’s Michigan State Spartans. Like we said, the Cardinals are red hot at the moment and seem to be virtually unstoppable, while the Spartan’s make up for a so-so resume by boasting some impressive swagger of their own. Duke is a threat to wind up in the Elite Eight, and they actually could cause some problems for the Cardinals as they beat Louisville by 5 earlier this season. But the Blue Devils are too unstable to be a reliable pick for the Elite Eight and could get bogged down by the Spartans stout defense in the Sweet Sixteen.
As for Louisville, their toughest test would be taking on Oregon, as the Ducks beat teams based on sheer grit and may end up stifling the Cardinals long enough to pull off a miracle. But if all goes as it should, the Cardinals will roll to an Elite Eight appearance and eventually a trip to the Final Four.
Louisville is the team to beat in the Midwest region, and may arguably be the team to beat in the entire tournament. They’ve held their opponents to below 60 points 21 times this season, which means their defense is more than capable of leading the charge in big games. They’re hot, they’re talented and they’re dangerous which is the makings of a March Madness team built for success.
Stay tuned to Fansided.com all tournament long to keep up to date with the latest and best March Madness coverage out there. Be sure to view and download your Fansided March Madness bracket to follow the action all month long.