NCAA Tournament Breakdown-Midwest Region

>> Monday

This region features four of the best defensive teams in the nation (Kansas, Georgetown, Wisconsin, USC) and everyone's favorite mid-major in Davidson. However, the one team who has not received much pub but could be really dangerous would be the Clemson Tigers. Clemson has played elite competition tough (beat Duke, had UNC on the ropes twice) and features a nice balance of perimeter and interior scoring.

Sleeper Team: Gonzaga

They will have an extremely difficult time with Davidson (that game would probably be a toss-up), but if they can advance from there another couple of wins would be entirely possible. The Zags have a more balanced roster this season, as their defense has finally caught up to their offense (D actually ranked 3 spots higher in the Pomeroys). Josh Heytvelt struggled in his return from a foot injury, but has slowly rounded into the form here and somewhat resembles the guy that looked a lottery pick at times last season (including his domination of Tyler Hansbrough in Preseason NIT). Gifted freshmen wing Austin Daye can play inside and out, and Jeremy Pargo would be your classic Chicago guard unafraid on contact and willing to take and hit the big shot. The Zags may be a year away, but a prelude to what should a phenomenal 2009 could come here.

Best First Round Game: USC v. Kansas State

While Zags-Davidson deserves equal bill, the Mayo-Beasley showdown will be one of the best in the opening weekend. Last year, Tim Floyd concocted a great game plan in shutting Kevin Durant, which led to a surprising easy Trojan victory over Texas. I would guess that Floyd attempts to shut off Beasley and makes his Wildcat teammates beat them. Mayo has the stronger supporting cast with Taj Gibson, Davon Jefferson, Dwight Lewis and Daniel Hackett. However, Beasley has the potential to pull off a superhuman effort and carry Kansas State to the second round.

Best Chance for an Upset: Siena over Vanderbilt

Vanderbilt would be terribly overseeded as a four, and any time they lose here would not surprise me. However, their ability to take care of the ball and hit the perimeter shot makes this a very good match-up for Commodores. That being said, an off night from SEC player of the year Shan Foster and Vanderbilt could be in major trouble. The Saints will likely a similar effort from Tay Fisher to the one he had in MAAC Tourney Final (went 6-10 from 3) in order to pull the upset. While I would to see it and believe Vandy to be vulnerable, the Dores probably got the type of match-up to prevent this happening. However, in what will likely be a relatively upset free region, this could be the One Shining Moment in the Midwest.

Regional Final: Kansas-Georgetown

Projected Winner: Kansas

While I still do not trust Bill Self, I think the Jayhawks have the perfect mix of talent and experience to finally make a long run. They can score with anyone, play very tight defense, and have the experience to deal with the inevitable tough stretches they will face. I look for Darrell Arthur to break out and become a major player on Kansas's run to the Final Four. Also, the complete play of Mario Chalmers will be on display, as he gets it done on both ends of the floor and quietly keeps everything together.


Matt 10:04 AM  

You mean Mario "Super Nintendo" Chalmers?

Zuch 1:49 PM  

It took all of my little will power to avoid writing that, and in hindsight I might as well have gone for it. In fact, in my previews of the other regions, I will come up with at least one ridiculous Bermanism.

Paul 8:02 PM  

God, a Bill Self team makes me so nervous. They have the best talent in the tourney, but I'm afraid of another Bill Self let-down.

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