You’ve got a taste of the East Region. Now here’s what to look forward to in the Midwest Region.
Miles Bridges — He could’ve been a top ten pick last year. The Flint-native returned for one more year to make a run in the NCAA Tournament. Who knows which version of Bridges we’ll see. An inconsistent scorer, one day he’s shooting State out of games. The next he’s hitting contested game-winners from long range.
February 10, 2018: Miles Bridges drills a big time three pointer with 2.6 seconds remaining to lead the Spartans to a 68-65 win over Purdue. pic.twitter.com/lkoZQBH5Es
— Sparty Moments (@SpartyMoments) February 11, 2018
Marvin Bagley — While everyone fawns over DeAndre Ayton, I would still take Bagley as the No. 1 overall pick. The 6’10” lefty is a fantastic finisher with guard skills. His wiry frame draws comparison to Kevin Durant, even though he’s a little more interior-oriented. If Bagley plays big in the tournament, Duke will (unfortunately) be one of the last teams standing.
Udoka Azubuike — The Kansas center is an absolute beast…if healthy. The 7-footer sprained his MCL a week ago in practice. He did not play in the Big 12 Tournament and he will likely sit out of the first round game against Penn. If he cannot return and be effective, the Jayhawks interior options are limited.
Angel Delgado — The Seton Hall power forward is the most underrated player in the Midwest Region. The 6’10” Dominican averages 13.3 points and 11.6 rebounds per game. A future NBA player, he is good enough to go toe-to-toe with Azubuike if they face off in second round.
E.C. Matthews and Jarred Terrell — What makes the Rhode Island Rams dangerous is their dynamic backcourt. Matthews and Terrell are a one-two punch powerful enough to knock out Trae Young and the Duke Blue Devils. They average a combined 30.3 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game.
Jemerrio Jones — The New Mexico State forward is undersized at just 6’5,” but he’s a double-double machine. Jones averages 11 points and 13.2 rebounds per game for the Aggies.
This was an easy choice, and not just because former KSR writer Wilder Treadway is now a member of Penn’s SID team.
He was kind enough to find this old gem of the former Quaker, inspired by a Dwight Schrute nightmare.
- Lourawls “Tum Tum” Nairn Jr., Michigan State
- Sviatoslav “Svi” Mykhailiuk, Kansas
- Osinachi Smart, College of Charleston
- Max Rothschild, Penn
- Cyril Langevine, Rhode Island
Upon first glance, the Bison are pretty badass…
…until you see their warm-ups.
(12) New Mexico State over (5) Clemson
This might be the most popular upset pick in the tournament. Clemson’s second-leading scorer Donte Grantham is injured. Without the 6’8″ forward the Tigers’ two-point field goal percentage has dropped from 56.6 to 45.4 percent. It wouldn’t be NMSU’s first ACC victory this season; they took down Miami earlier this year by nine.
(10) Oklahoma over (7) Rhode Island
Two words: Trae Young.
Longshot: (15) Iona over (2) Duke
Am I biased because I hate Duke? Of course. But Iona has a few things going for them. They run an uptempo offense that creates a ton of possessions, which means more opportunities to hit threes (38.% is #33 in the country) against Duke’s zone defense. The Gaels have been to four tournaments in the last five years, so the moment will not be too big to handle. Most importantly, it just feels like Duke is due for a let down.
Pick: Michigan State
It will be an astounding shocker if one of the top-three seeds from this region does not make it to the Final Four.
Kansas has everything you need, but they will not get the typical Kansas whistle in the tournament. Much of their success will run through Azubuike, but can he hit free throws or get healthy enough to be a force in the interior? I don’t think so.
Duke has the look of a title team. Coach K’s starting five has it all, from snot-nosed swingman (Grayson Allen) to future top five pick (Bagley). The problem is that they only have five, maybe six guys they can play. They also don’t defend particularly well out of that 2-3 zone, and that’s why I trust Izzo and Bridges to take Sparty back to the Final Four.