March Madness bracket 2019: Upset predictions, Final Four pick in Midwest Region

first_imgSN’s MARCH MADNESS HQPrintable bracket | Predictor tool | Best bracket names | TicketsNCAA Tournament bracket picks: Midwest RegionMORE SN BRACKET GUIDES: SOUTH | EAST | WEST Best storylineCan Kansas turn a Midwest Region in Kansas City into a hometown happening? (For that matter, did the Jayhawks really earn the opportunity?) KU is seeded No. 4, which means the committee has projected the Jayhawks to make it to KC for a potential Sweet 16 game against No. 1 seed North Carolina. Sprint Center is a building where KU plays an annual “home” game and also appears each year in the Big 12 Tournament. So it’s hard to figure how the Jayhawks would get placed on the 4-line in this region — and how conference regular-season champion Kansas State would be shipped to the West, in a region with a higher-ranked 1-seed. It didn’t help KU to play at the Sprint Center in 2017, when the Jayhawks lost as the top seed, or even in the most recent Big 12 tourney. But, as they said (repeatedly) in The Legend of Billie Jean: “Fair is fair.” This isn’t.All-region teamPlayerPositionTeamPJ WashingtonPower forwardKentuckyCameron JohnsonSmall forwardNorth CarolinaFletcher MageeShooting guardWoffordCorey Davis Jr.Shooting guardHoustonDedric LawsonPower forwardKansasBest first-round gameNo. 7 Wofford vs. No. 10 Seton Hall. Wofford — under Sporting News Coach of the Year Mike Young — dominated the Southern Conference at an improbable level, winning 21 games and losing none in what is considered the strongest and deepest field the league has seen in decades. The metrics community loved the Terriers: They are 19th in KenPom and 13th in the NET. They were only 1-4 against high-major opponents, with the victory coming on the road at South Carolina. So this will be a challenge for a Wofford team that has met every one for the last three months. They haven’t lost since Dec. 19 against Mississippi State. Their 20-game winning streak will be tested by the Pirates, who took Villanova down to the final seconds in the Big East championship game and own victories against Kentucky, Maryland, St. John’s and Marquette.MARCH MADNESS: Get your printable NCAA Tournament bracketSeeded too highNo. 5 Auburn. The Tigers did indeed win the SEC Tournament, but that didn’t do any good for anyone else who won big on Sunday. Michigan State and Cincinnati both fell below where they should have landed. So how do the Tigers, with a 7-7 record against the field even after taking care of Florida and Tennessee over the weekend, get this high on the bracket? Baylor, rightly stuck in an 8/9 game, had the same record against tournament teams. The Tigers also were 5-7 against Quad 1. No one else on the 5-line has a record that poor. No one on the 6-line does, either.Seeded too lowNo. 3 Houston. The Cougars ranked fourth in the NET, which would be the equivalent of a No. 1 seed. The Cougars had an attractive 6-3 mark against Quad 1 and a 7-3 record against the field. There aren’t any terribly underseeded teams in this region, but a marginal case could be made for the Cougars as a No. 2.I HATE MARCH MADNESS BRACKETWhat do you hate about March Madness? Vote in SN’s poll Upset specialNo. 10 Seton Hall over No. 7 Wofford. This is one region the committee seemed to balance well. But if you have to make a call, it would be feasible to see Seton Hall become another high-major squad to handle the Terriers. It seemed at first this might be cheating the category a bit, that the seeding might be countered by Vegas making the Pirates the betting favorite. In fact, Wofford is giving 3 points. The Terriers have come a long way in a short time.Best potential gameNo. 6 Iowa State vs. No. 3 Houston. The Cyclones have the 59th-ranked defense, which is just the ingredient necessary to turn an attractive on-paper matchup to an exciting on-court game. Has Steve Prohm solved Iowa State’s defensive issues? Houston is just the team to test that theory, with an attack that hammered Cincinnati for 85 points only last week.BRACKET TIPS: KenPom | Play the odds | Idiot’s guideBest potential player matchupWashington SF Matisse Thybulle vs. North Carolina SF Cameron Johnson. If this occurs — and it won’t easy for the Huskies to get past Utah State in the 8/9 game — it won’t be a strictly head-to-head meeting. UW plays the 2-3 zone defense coach Mike Hopkins brought with him from Syracuse, so it’ll be more of an occasional interaction. But Thybulle is a leading contender for national defensive player of the year, and Johnson has been a revelation in his final year as a grad transfer. Johnson always had a reputation as a deep shooter, but he has developed into an elite offensive force.Get to knowNew Mexico State coach Chris Jans. After his first season at Bowling Green — a promising year that saw the Falcons go 21-12 after winning only 12 games the year before — Jans was in a bar, apparently intoxicated, and was caught on video touching a woman inappropriately. Bowling Green chose to fire him from a position that was paying him $325,000 annually. His coaching career might have been over. His former boss, Wichita State’s Gregg Marshall, hired Jans to a position on his staff. NMSU chose to give him a second chance in 2017. Jans is repaying his new bosses. The Aztecs have reached the NCAA Tournament in both of his seasons there and are a combined 58-10 during his tenure.MORE BRACKET PICKS: DeCourcy (Duke) | Bender (Duke) | Fagan (Duke)Don’t be surprised if …Every single higher seed won in the first round. They’re all favored by Vegas, which is rare. There’s usually a game or two in which the lower seed is a betting favorite. The committee didn’t get a lot right, but the balance of this region is one thing.Sleeper teamNortheastern is extremely well-coached by Bill Coen, who delivered his third 20-win season in the past five years and is making his second NCAA Tournament appearance of his 13-year tenure. Once part of a loaded staff that included future head coaches Tim O’Shea and Ed Cooley, Coen did a brilliant job in the Colonial Tournament to get the Huskies past a dynamic Hofstra team that was 27-7. This is not a great defensive team, but senior guard Vasa Pusica, a 40-percent 3-point shooter this season who hit seven 3s in the CAA title game, is the kind of player who barges into view in March.Final Four pickKentucky. The Wildcats let a potential SEC championship slip from their grasp in the final minutes of the semifinal game against Tennessee, and it very well could be the last lesson the Wildcats must learn to advance to their first Final Four since 2015. Their defense got alarmingly tentative as they tried to protect a lead, and the Cats were punished for this. North Carolina almost certainly will get through the comfortable top half of the bracket, so if UK is going to get to Minneapolis, it will have to defeat the Tar Heels, again. The Tar Heels are better this time. But so is Kentucky.March Madness features from Sporting News”40 Minutes of Hell” to Hog Heaven: Nolan Richardson’s 1993-94 Arkansas team will go down as one of the most fun SEC title-winning teams of all time. It was something he built, one minute at a time.How to stop Zion Williamson: Opposing coaches dish on their strategies to deal with Duke’s freshman phenom and, with some luck, beat the Blue Devils.A barrier-breaking title: The 1961-62 Cincinnati Bearcats made history when they started four black players in their NCAA title game win over Ohio State. We remember the importance of that groundbreaking win.An Oral History of Steph Curry’s 2008 Breakout: In 2008, a little-known, baby-faced guard from Davidson completely took over the NCAA Tournament.Upset City: Reliving the wildest opening venue in NCAA Tournament history.The Fagan Jinx: They’re not just upset “alerts” when Sporting News’ Ryan Fagan is in attendance. Recapping the many improbable upsets Fagan has been on hand to witness. DeCourcy’s best of 30 years: Sporting News’ Mike DeCourcy ranks the best games he has witnessed from 30 years’ worth of NCAA Tournament coverage. The thrill of victory …: Sporting News staff recall their favorite memories of the NCAA Tournament. … And the agony of defeat: Sporting News staff recalls their most heartbreaking memories from the NCAA Tournament. Get your tissues ready.Top 80 upsets in March Madness history: It’s not March Madness until there’s an upset. Ranking the best we ever saw.Best buzzer-beaters in NCAA Tournament history: The defining shots of the NCAA Tournament, and the reason it’s dubbed “March Madness.”last_img

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