Bracket Talk: Midwest Region

This blog post will help breakdown Kansas’ bracket by potential opponent and then some sleepers for the rest of your bracket picks. I will be referring to Pomeroy ratings a lot in this blog entry.

Lehigh

Kansas’ first round opponent is Lehigh.  Lehigh (22-10) is out of the Patriot League. They won the conference by one game over Bucknell and also won the Patriot League tournament

Why they could win: 26.6% of their offense comes from 3-pointers and they shoot a great percentage (40.1%, which is 9th in the country). If they heat up from three, then Kansas could be in trouble.

Why they will lose: Lehigh only played two top 150 KenPom teams (both top 50) and they lost both games (Richmond and Dayton). They haven’t played a tough schedule at all, 331st in the country. Their defense is in the middle of the road (147th in effective field goal defense percentage). They turn the ball over quite a bit (225th in the country). They don’t have much depth, either. They have six players who play 45% or more of their minutes. 29% of their minutes comes from the bench.

Kansas’ second round opponents could be either UNLV or Northern Iowa.

UNLV

Why they could win: Unlike Lehigh, they are battle tested. They lost to Kansas State early in the season, but beat Nevada, Arizona, Louisville and BYU twice. They only have one bad loss (against Utah at home). They are a good defensive team (29th in adjusted defensive efficiency and they don’t turn the ball over much.

Why they will lose: They are an awful offensive rebounding team, so they won’t get many second chance points and they don’t get to the free throw line often (311th in the country for free throws attempted/field goals attempted). They also don’t shoot the three-ball well (33.1%, which is 219th in the country). Despite that, they shoot a very good percentage inside the arc (11th in the country at 53.6%).

Northern Iowa

Why they could win: I believe this is the toughest 8 or 9 seed in the tournament outside of Texas. They only have two bad losses (DePaul and Evansville) this season. Their two other loses were away losses to Wichita State and Bradley. Northern Iowa is a good defensive team (13th in the country in effective defensive efficiency). They are very fundamentally sound as they rank in the top 12 in free throw percentage. They also don’t turn the ball over a lot. Some of their big wins this season: Iowa State, Siena, Boston College, and Wichita State. Jordan Eglseder is their big man and he’s a senior this season. He is a very good offensive and defensive rebounder (ranked in the top 10 in both in the Pomeroy ratings). They have a very experienced team with three seniors and a junior who contribute a lot: Eglseder, Kwadzo Ahelegbe, Adam Koch and Ali Farokhmanesh.

Why they will lose: The Missouri Valley Conference is a one bid league and the only other team close to making the tournament was Wichita State. Their strength of schedule isn’t awful (120th in the country), but nothing to write home about. I think UNI will give Kansas one of the biggest scares in the tournament and is similar to the draw of Bradley a few years ago.  Kansas will need to use their depth and their experience to outplay UNI.

Sweet 16 potential opponents: Michigan State and Maryland – I believe they will take care of business against NMSU and Houston.

Maryland

Why they could win: I think Maryland is Kansas’ Sweet 16 opponent. They have one of the most efficient offenses in the country (6th) and their defense isn’t too shabby either.  They don’t the ball over often, shoot the three well (38.8% and 21st in the country) and they are ninth in the country in 2-point field goal defense. They had a tough schedule this season (25th overall). Greivis Vasquez is one of the most explosive players in the country and is capable of exploding at any given night. He has the senior experience to carry his team on back in March. They made the NCAA tournament last year and played Memphis really well.  They have some good wins against Duke, Florida State, Miami, Virginia, Georgia Tech, Clemson, and Virginia Tech. Their only bad loss is to William & Mary at home. The rest of their losses are to Cincinnati, Wisconsin, Villanova, Wake Forest, Clemson, Duke and Georgia Tech (all NCAA tournament teams except Cincinnati).

Why they will lose: Like the teams mentioned before, they don’t have great depth. They don’t make it to the charity stripe often either. They’re heading into the NCAA tournament losing their last game, which was their first loss since February 13th (only three losses in conference play).

Michigan State

Why they could win: Kalin Lucas is one of the best guards in the country. They made the National Championship game last year with many of the same players so they have experience.  They do a good job of getting rebounds and their defense will give Kansas fits.

Why they will lose: Revenge. Think Sherron Collins doesn’t remember this?:

Michigan State also plays in the Big 10…Zzzzzz. After starting off 9-0 in Big 10 play,  and they lost five of their last 10 games.

Potential Elite 8 matchups: Georgetown, Ohio State, Tennessee.

Since Kansas has already faced Tennessee this year and I don’t think they will get past Georgetown, I’m just going to preview the Hoyas and the Buckeyes.

Georgetown

Why they could win: Greg Monroe. He is one of the best big men in the country and could put Cole Aldrich out of his game.  They are a very good shooting team: 20th in the country in three-point percentage, seventh in two-point percentage. They also are the 10th best adjusted offensive efficiency team in the nation and are sixth in effective field goal percentage.

Why they will lose: Eight of their 10 losses are in the Big East conference. Five of those losses have been since February 14th. The teams they have beaten? Louisville, Cincinnati, South Florida, Syracuse and Marquette. In some of their losses they have come into foul trouble. They are 344th in the country in bench minutes, which is to Kansas’ advantage (regarding depth).

Ohio State

Why they could win: Evan Turner. Turner, as you may know, is the National Player of the Year and is the “next” Carmelo Anthony or Stephen Curry. Their record is misleading because without Turner in the lineup (due to injury), they lost three games.  You might remember Turner beating Michigan in the Big 10 tournament:

They’re also a very good three-point shooting team and they’re third in the country in two-point field goal percentage.

Why they will lose: They played against the Big 10 all season, which is not as good as the Big 12 conference. Kansas is battled tested enough and they will take Ohio State seriously enough. Like Georgetown, but worse, they don’t have depth (they’re 346th in the country in percentage of bench minutes).

The following numbers are Pomeroy ratings by region.

Midwest

1. KU – 2
2. tOSU

– 4
3. Georgetown – 11
4. Maryland  – 10
5. MSU – 24
6. Tennessee – 35
7. Oklahoma State – 44
8. UNLV  – 37
9. Northern Iowa – 32
10. Georgia Tech – 27
11. SDSU – 40
12. New Mexico State – 115
13. Houston – 85
14. Ohio – 100
15. UCSB – 152
16. LeHigh – 180

Avg. Rank = 56.5.
Avg. Rank of top 12 = 32.25
Avg. Rank of top 4 = 7.75

WEST

1. Syracuse – 5
2. KSU – 9
3. Pitt – 30
4. Vanderbilt – 36
5. Butler – 26
6. Xavier – 22
7. BYU – 7
8. Gonzaga – 56
9. Florida State – 19
10. Florida – 49
11. Minnesota – 25
12. UTEP – 34
13. Murray State – 57
14. Oakland – 141
15. North Texas – 169
16. Vermont – 129

Avg. Rank = 50.9
Avg. Rank of Top 12 = 26.5
Avg. of Top 4 = 20

EAST

1. Kentucky – 6
2. West Virginia – 8
3. New Mexico – 47
4. Wisconsin – 3
5. Temple – 18
6. Marquette – 28
7. Clemson – 16
8. Texas – 17
9. Wake Forest – 50
10. Missouri – 21
11. Washington – 29
12. Cornell – 66
13. Wofford – 87
14. Montana – 105
15. Morgan State – 149
16. East Tennessee State – 142

Avg. Rank = 49.5
Avg. Rank of Top 12 = 25.75
Avg. Rank of Top 4 = 16

SOUTH

1. Duke – 1
2. Villanova – 15
3. Baylor – 12
4. Purdue – 13*****
5. Texas A&M – 23
6. Notre Dame – 38
7. Richmond – 48
8. Cal – 14
9. Louisville – 39
10. Saint Mary’s – 43
11. ODU – 33
12. Utah State – 20
13. Siena – 58
14. Sam Houston State – 102
15. Robert Morris – 188
16. Winthrop – 212

Avg. Rank = 53.7
Avg. Rank of Top 12 = 24.9
Avg. Rank of Top 4 = 10.25

Want some sleepers for your bracket? Try some of these.

Cornell
Murray State
Richmond
SDSU
Siena
Utah State
UTEP

Here are the RPI numbers the committee looked at when seeding all the teams in the NCAA tournament for seeds 1-12: