After one quick look at the Midwest region of the bracket, one question immediately pops to mind: Can I trust any of these teams in my bracket? I see a handful of schools that over the past few seasons have been projected to go far in the tournament and had potential to win it all but fell short. Some of those teams choked way earlier than expected and broke brackets everywhere. Some just didn’t have everything it took to make it to the Final Four or beyond. The next thing I see is a couple schools that busted brackets because they did much better than anyone ever expected them to. That’s the past years. Now there’s this year. This crazy, wide open, literally anyone can win it year. Who do I choose so I can win our Tournament Challenge Group (Come on, you knew that shameless plug was coming).
Let’s start with the #1 seed, UVA. This is a team that frankly I’m not too sure they deserved a top seed. Let’s look at their past two years in the big dance. They lost in the Sweet Sixteen as a 1 seed to a fourth seeded Michigan State in 2014 and lost to a seventh seeded State team again last year as a 2 seed. The Cavaliers disappointed both years with very high expectations. Is the third time a charm for the Wahoos or will the trend continue? I think they’ll come up short again. Why? Well just look at who the 2 seed is…
Sorry UVA, but that would be Michigan State. Michigan State is generally a lock to reach at least the Sweet Sixteen. They’ve always been a popular pick to do well, not just because of the talented rosters they’ve had, but because they have one of the best coaches in the business in Tom Izzo. The field is as wide open as it’s ever been this year and Sparty is poised to take the title. National Player of the Year candidate Denzel Valentine has the potential to lead the team to glory (Spoiler, I have Michigan State going far in my bracket).
What about Iowa State? The past two seasons, Iowa State has been one of the biggest tournament disappointments in the nation. Losing in the second round to 14th seeded UAB, really? The Cyclones took a big step back this year after winning the Big 12 tournament the past two years. Is much expected of them this March? Not really. There’s less pressure on them this year which could help them perform better. But in the end, they’re not as good as some other teams in this region.
Other teams to look out for in this region are Purdue and Seton Hall. Purdue has been a little under the radar in the national scene but have a really good squad. They’ve proven they can hang with the top teams. They beat Michigan State once and came so close to beating them in the Big 10 title game. They are dangerous and should not be taken lightly. The same goes for Seton Hall. The Pirates won the Big East tourney with big wins over Villanova and Xavier. They show up for the big games and I see them making a nice little run to the Sweet Sixteen.
As for the rest of the region, I’m not really picking any upsets. The only lower seed I have winning is Butler over Texas Tech. I don’t see Fresno State beating Utah or Syracuse beating Dayton. The only one I really see potential for is Iona over Iowa State. I’m still picking the Cyclones but I wouldn’t be surprised if Iona pulls it off. In my Sweet Sixteen match-ups, I see Michigan State ending Seton Hall’s run after a tough fight from the Pirates. Take a look.
Michigan State vs. UVA will not happen for a third straight year. I think the Cavs will get too far ahead of themselves looking ahead to that potential rematch and the chance to finally get past Sparty. That’s when they will be upset by Purdue. That sets up a rematch of the Big 10 final where Michigan State will prevail again, punching their ticket to the Final Four.