2013 NCAA Bracket Picks: Midwest Region Odds, Predictions and Expert Bracketology Projections to Win Your 2013 Office Pool Bracket: The Midwest Region of the NCAA Tournament Bracket is absolutely loaded. In addition to having the NCAA Tournament’s No. 1 overall, the region has two other teams that were in the mix for a possible No. 1 seed heading into conference tournament play. Throw in a several regular season and tournament champions from major and mid-major conferences, and there aren’t many easy games for any of seeds. Whichever team survives the Midwest Region and reaches the Final Four in Atlanta is certainly going to have earned its right to cut down the nets.
NCAA Midwest Bracket Favorites to Make the Final Four
Louisville: For the second year in a row, the Cardinals will try to parlay a Big East Tournament title into a Final Four appearance. The scary thing for the rest of the teams in the Midwest Region is that this year’s team could be even better. Louisville has won 10 games in a row, and the entire core of last year’s Final Four team is back. More importantly, this year’s team has some offensive firepower to go with the stifling defense that is standard with any Rick Pitino team. Aside from occasional offensive slumps, the Cardinals don’t have many weaknesses.
Duke: Until an unexpected loss to Maryland in the ACC Tournament, the Blue Devils were cruising to a No. 1 seed. Instead, they will be one of the toughest No. 2 seeds around. After all, Duke’s resume includes some excellent wins, including a win over the top-seeded Louisville. The Blue Devils have lost just a single game all season when they have been at full strength, and they surround double-double machine Mason Plumlee with a plethora of perimeter firepower. Teams that with a lot of size and muscle can give Duke some issues, but when the Blue Devils are knocking down 3-pointers, they can beat any team in the country.
Michigan State: Is there any coach in the country better at getting the most out of his team in March than Tom Izzo? The Spartans take care of business on the defensive end and the glass, and while they don’t have a ton of perimeter firepower, they do have an experienced guard in Keith Appling and a pair of solid post options in Derrick Nix and Adreian Payne. More importantly, MSU is as battle tested as any team around, and the team’s six losses since November have all come to team ranked in the top 20, including five to teams ranked in the top 10. Izzo has his team prepared for the gauntlet that is the NCAA Tournament.
NCAA Midwest Bracket Upset Specials
Middle Tennessee/Saint Mary’s over Memphis: I expect the Gaels to take care of business in their opening round game, which is bad news for the Tigers. Memphis plowed through the weak competition in Conference USA thanks to superior overall athleticism. The advantage won’t be so drastic in the NCAA Tournament. More importantly, the Tigers are not a great half court team, and they generate a lot of their offense by forcing turnovers and scoring in transition. They aren’t going to have a lot of opportunities with Matthew Dellavedova handling the ball at the point for Saint Mary’s. The Gaels will slow the pace, control the tempo and knock off the Tigers.
Oregon over Oklahoma State: While the Cowboys had a great regular season, young players like Marcus Smart, Phil Forte and Le’Bryan Nash that have been responsible for the programs turnaround have looked a bit worn down in the last couple of weeks. Meanwhile, the Ducks are fresh off a Pac-12 Tournament title, and their two leading scorers are both seniors. Not to mention the fact that freshman guard Dominic Artis recently returned from injury, and it is no coincidence that the Ducks suddenly got hot and won their conference tournament with one of their key role players back in the mix. Oklahoma State’s youth and up-and-down shooting will be exposed by an Oregon time with more balance on offense that it gets credit for.
NCAA Midwest Bracket High Seed on Alert
Oklahoma State: As I already mentioned, the Cowboys core is comprised mainly of freshmen and sophomores, and they seem to be filling the stress of a long season. Oklahoma State’s offense comes and goes, and they are shooting just 44.0 percent as a team on the year while leading scorer Marcus Smart is shooting just 40.4 percent. Heck, the Cowboys recently played a game against Baylor when they nearly blew a huge lead because Le’Bryan Nash was the only player that hit a field goal in the second half. Oklahoma State relies heavily on getting to the foul line to mask its streaky shooting, and with the whistle often getting swallowed in the NCAA Tournament, the Cowboys could be headed for an early exit.
NCAA Midwest Bracket PREDICTION: Louisville Cardinals
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Odds to win the 2013 NCAA Midwest Region
Michigan State #3
St. Louis #4
Oklahoma State #5
Saint Mary’s #11
Colorado State #8
New Mexico State #13
NC A&T #16
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