Monday, March 17, 2008

Midwest Regional Preview and Analysis

The Midwest regional is to be played in beautiful downtown Detroit, Michigan. The Kansas Jayhawks, co-regular season and tournament champions of the Big 12 Conference, are the top seed and are favored to advance to the Final Four.

KU starts their road in nearby Omaha, where their fans will take over the building and make the local chamber of commerce very happy. Their first game will be a relative scrimmage with Portland State, making their first appearance in the Big Dance. The Jayhawks would then play the winner of the game between UNLV and Kent State. The Rebels won the Mountain West tournament on their home court last week. Kent State has won 28 games and is a very dangerous team. The Golden Flashes should have their way with UNLV, and present a challenge for KU in round 2 (remember Rhode Island and Bucknell?). KU wins, barely.

The Clemson Tigers are enjoying one of the best seasons in their history, and play perhaps the last team selected for this year’s tournament in Villanova. Clemson handles Villanova in the dreaded 5-12 game, and goes on to meet Vanderbilt, expected winners over (Burnt) Siena. The Tigers then earn a trip to the Sweet 16 with a tough win over Vandy.

In the bottom half of the bracket, the summer league dream matchup takes place, as O.J. Mayo’s team (USC) takes on Michael Beasley’s team (Kansas State). Both of these guys will be getting paid big bucks next year. This year, USC will be too much for K-State, who underachieved this year by playing inconsistently in conference play. The winners plays Wisconsin, who will annihilate Cal State-Fullerton. Wisconsin is very strong, and should probably be a 2nd seed instead of a #3. Wisconsin takes out the O.J. Mayos in round 2 to earn a trip to the Motor City.

Another suspicious matchup of mid-majors pits Gonzaga with Davidson. Gonzaga is not really a mid-major any more, but they are in a mid-major conference. Davidson played anybody and everybody in their non-conference schedule before winning 23 in a row in the Southern Conference. This game is in Raleigh, and the Carolina fans will jump on the Davidson bandwagon. The Zags got a really tough draw. Davidson advances. They will take on Georgetown, who muscles their way past the Retrievers of Maryland-Baltimore County. The Davidson magic ends in the 2nd round, where they fall to Georgetown.

The regional in Detroit features Kansas vs. Clemson and Wisconsin vs. Georgetown. KU should handle Clemson. Wisconsin vs. Georgetown would be a slugfest. Wisconsin wins a close one to get to the Elite Eight once again. Bo Ryan’s team makes KU earn it, but the Jayhawks finally get to the Final Four for the first time in the Bill Self era.

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