2012 Sweet 16 Midwest Region Vegas Odds, Predictions and Free Picks – NCAA Tournament Betting Preview: The Midwest Region of the NCAA tournament has definitely produced the most interesting mixture of teams heading into the Sweet 16. The top two seeds in the region have survived thus far, but they will be joined by a pair of double-digit seeds. Only time will tell if the favorites or the underdogs come out on top, but if a team is going to make a Cinderella run to the Final Four, there is a good bet the team will come out of the Midwest Region.

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2012 Sweet 16 Midwest Region Matchup Previews

No. 13 Ohio vs. No. 1 North Carolina: A game that had blowout written all over it was made a lot more interesting by the announcement that North Carolina point guard Kendall Marshall has a broken wrist. Now, the fast-paced Tarheels are missing the engine that powers their high-scoring offense. For a team that gets a ton of easy looks and transition buckets, losing Marshall is probably the worst possible scenario. Granted, he hasn’t been ruled out, but it is tough to believe he can perform at the same level so soon after surgery.

That being said, the Bobcats are still going to have their hands full with North Carolina’s frontcourt. Tyler Zeller, John Henson, Harrison Barnes and James McAdoo give the Tarheels and enormous size advantage. Even without Marshall, North Carolina should still be able to score early and often in the paint and control the boards. The question becomes whether or not D.J. Cooper and the rest of the Ohio guards can take advantage of a depleted Tarheels’ backcourt and generate enough perimeter points to pull the upset.

In the end, Ohio’s opportunistic defense will force its share of turnovers against North Carolina’s experienced guards. The Bobcats should also find some open looks from beyond the arc. However, the Tarheels’ size advantage and abundance of interior scoring should allow them to grind out a close one. Any production Roy Williams’ team gets from Marshall is icing on the cake. The Tarheels just need someone to get the ball up the court, and their talented post players will take care of the rest.

2012 Sweet 16 Midwest Region Projected Winner: North Carolina

No. 11 North Carolina State vs. No. 2 Kansas: On paper, this game seems like a mismatch. After all, the Wolfpack barely made it into the tournament field, while the Jayhawks almost ended up with a No. 1 seed. That being said, N.C. State just keeps pulling off upsets and has won six of its last seven games. Meanwhile, Kansas lost in the semifinals of the Big 12 tournament and needed a huge rally against 10th-seeded Purdue just to make it to the Sweet 16. The Wolfpack will have no shortage of confidence when it faces the Jayhawks.

Neither team has much in the way of depth. N.C. State has a balanced attack, with five players scoring in double figures, but the Wolfpack doesn’t have much firepower after its starting five. Kansas is even more top heavy, with Wooden Award candidate Thomas Robinson taking care of the interior scoring and point guard Tyshawn Taylor handling the frontcourt scoring. That being said, the Jayhawks’ dynamic duo gives Kansas the two best players on the court in this matchup, and that is something that can’t be overlooked.

The good news for Kansas is that it managed to escape its last game against the Boilermakers despite off nights from both of its stars. Robinson and Taylor haven’t had many bad games this season, let alone two in a row. After getting the better of two defensive-minded teams, the Wolfpack will have a much tougher time dealing with a Jayhawks team that plays physical defense and has firepower on the offensive end. Robinson and Taylor should bounce back from a poor performance and lead Kansas passed N.C. State.

2012 Sweet 16 Midwest Region Favorite to Make the Final Four

Kansas: At full strength, the nod would go to the Tarheels, but with Henson dealing with a sprained wrist and Marshall possibly out or at the very least limited with a broken wrist, the Jayhawks are the team to beat. Robinson and Taylor are perfect complements to each other. Robinson is a physical presence inside, controlling the paint and the glass on both ends of the court. Meanwhile, Taylor’s speed and scoring ability on the perimeter allows Kansas to play at a faster pace when needed. Add it up, and the Jayhawks have the balance to handle a variety of opponents, and their versatility should pay off in the coming rounds.

2012 Sweet 16 Midwest Region Projected Winner: Kansas

MIDWEST REGION ODDS TO WIN
Kansas +100
North Carolina +100
North Carolina State +850
Ohio +2500

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