Going into Selection Sunday, many thought KU had a chance at a three seed. Instead, they were given a four seed in the Midwest Region of the NCAA Tournament.
KU was considered the best four seed in the field by the selection committee, the 13th team overall. Although the three seed was the hope for the Jayhawks, the four seed in the Midwest doesn’t look so bad.
The committee gifted KU the opportunity to play in Kansas City if they make it to the second weekend. Getting in that Kansas City region was the number one goal going into the tournament, and KU’s spot in the Midwest should be considered a win, no matter what seed they are.
The Midwest is highlighted by blue bloods at the top, with North Carolina as the one seed, Kentucky as the two and Kansas as the four. Those three programs are the winningest in college basketball history and bring a feeling of excellence to this corner of the bracket.
Stylistically, the Midwest Region features teams that like to get out and run. The three seed Houston, four seed Auburn, and six seed Iowa State will all push the ball as soon as they get it on offense. North Carolina and Kentucky also try to get out on fast breaks and are at their deadliest when they’re going at opponents with a head full of steam.
Were Kansas to make it to the Sweet Sixteen, they’d likely face North Carolina. That matchup would feature several story lines, most notably Roy Williams going against his former team. Don’t think that the committee didn’t have that in mind when placing KU and UNC in the same region.
All those factors make for what should be a very entertaining Midwest Region. Let’s quickly dive a little deeper on those top teams in KU’s region.
1. North Carolina
The Tar Heels rank in the top 10 in both offensive and defensive efficiency on the season, an impressive feat for a team that plays fast and loose. North Carolina has wins over fellow one seeds Gonzaga and Duke and this team came on strong during conference play after many thought it’d be a down year for the Heels.
Once again Kentucky has stud freshman running the show in the back court. In the front court however, it looks a little different. Veteran forwards P.J. Washington and Reid Travis lead a dynamic front line that can beat you in a variety of ways.
The Cougars are the best mid-major team in the country and have been for most of the year. Coach Kelvin Sampson leads this team that have several impressive non-conference wins and hangs its hat on defense and grinding opposing teams down.
Auburn relies on defense and speed to shut opponents down, as they have forced more turnovers than any other team in the country. The Tigers come into the tournament on a hot streak after winning the SEC Tournament and seem to be trending upward at the perfect time.
6. Iowa State
Like Auburn, Iowa State comes into the Big Dance on a tear after beating Kansas in the Big 12 Championship. The Cyclones biggest weakness is their inconsistency, as they haven’t been able to string together good games throughout the season. If they can be consistent and make it to the second weekend, those games being in Kansas City should benefit the Cyclones just as much as it does KU.