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March Madness 2017: Previewing the Midwest Region First and Second Round

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Bryan Mauro
Contributing Writer
@threecolorbeard

The Midwest Region in this years NCAA tournament is going to be exciting and fast paced.  Some of the best games in the tournament are in this region.  Lets get deep into this bracket, use this as your guide when watching the tournament.

Best Round of 64 Matchup:

Michigan and Oklahoma State:  Do you like scoring, and think defense is overrated?   If so this is the matchup for you.  This game is going to be fast paced, with a lot of scoring.  Both of these teams are near the top in the NCAA in points per possession, and near the top in total tempo.  These teams also rank near the bottom in total defense.  This game will have a little bit of excitement for everyone.  These teams are efficient, shoot a ton of threes and don’t turn the ball over much.  They also possess two of the best point guards in the country.  Michigan with Derek Walton Jr and Oklahoma State with Juwan Evans, these two guys can do it all, and are the bucket getters when crunch time approaches.  All five starters for Michigan have the green light to shoot wherever they are on the floor.  Michigan is hot after winning the Big Ten tournament and Oklahoma State is from the bang and grand Big 12.  Word of advice:  Take the Overs in this game.   Score Prediction:  Michigan 93-Oklahoma State 89. 

Second Best Game:  Iowa State vs Nevada

 Upset  Alert:

Creighton:  The Jays have really struggled without superstar point guard Mo Watson.  They did not get a favorable draw against the Rhode Island Rams.  Rhode Island won the automatic bid from the Atlantic 10, and is back in the tournament for the first time since 1999.  The Rams are now healthy and capable.  Oh yeah, did I mention they have won 9 in a row.  Creighton is not the same team without Mo Watson running the point.  Rhode Island will need to dictate the tempo in this one, and neutralize Justin Patton to win.  Kuran Iverson of Rhode Island sure will have his full.  If Rhode Island can get out to an early lead, they can extend their defense, which they do a lot and really get Creighton into some trouble.  Look for a tight game.  Rhode Island probably squeaks this one out, as they have the ability to get Justin Patton in some early foul trouble.  Something that could help Creighton avoid the potential Upset is the fact that their assistant coach played at Rhode Island, and coached there.  He recruited a lot of the guys on the Rhode Island team.  Could be an advantage.  Word of Advice:  Take the Rams to slow this game down and make an early run.

Score Prediction:  Rhode Island: 68 Creighton: 60

Second Best Upset Potential:  Purdue vs. Vermont

 

Best One on One Matchup:

Deonte Burton (Iowa State) vs. Jordan Caroline (Nevada):  I hope the NCAA packed a few extra backboards for this game.  These two guys turn every game into a dunk contest.  With these two matched up against other the rim better be on alert.  Deonte Burton is a monster inside and could have upwards of 15 dunks by himself in this game.  Jordan Caroline on the other hand, is a do everything guy for Nevada, he is known for his thunderous dunks, but he can step out and hit threes, he protects the rim, and is a really good rebounder.  If nothing else if I can at least Caroline dunk on Burton and Burton dunk on Caroline I will have gotten my money ‘s worth.  Word of Advice:  Learn about Jordan Caroline before watching this game.  He is a jaw-dropper.

Score Prediction:  Burton 20 points 10 rebounds Caroline: 18 points and 9 rebounds.  10 Dunks combined

Second Best: EC Matthews (Rhode Island) vs Marcus Foster (Creighton)

 3 Best Players You Have Never Heard Of:

 EC Matthews:  The Rhode Island point guard is a key cog to why Rhode Island is back in the tournament.  He was injured all of last year and Rhode Island had a bad season.  He’s back this year running the offense and Rhode Island could be a nice Cinderella.  The 6’5” lefty has averages of 15 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists.  He makes Rhode Island go, and he is also the team’s best defender. He will always draw the team’s top scorer.  He can go get points and is a pain on defense.

Marcus Marshall:  The flashiest scorer in this tournament that potentially no one has heard of.  His Nevada team is loaded with talent and he is the best player on that team.  The transfer from Missouri State can flat out score, and score really fast.  He can beat you off the bounce, or he can take the ball out and bury a three.  He is going to be the focus of the Iowa State game plan.  If he and Jordan Caroline are having free reign to do what they want, Nevada can go a long way in this tournament.  Marcus averages 20 points, 3 rebounds and 4 assists.  He also shoots 81% from the foul line and 40% from three.  He’s an exciting player.

Jordan Washington:  The Iona big man is a load inside, and is a really skilled player for being as big as he is.  Hes an efficient scorer and really good rebounder, who should put up numbers in their first game. He will get the ball underneath a lot against Oregon.  Iona is going to be overmatched against Oregon and I don’t expect this to be much of a game, but Jordan Washington is really good.  His only downfall is that he is very prone to foul an awful lot.  I hope he doesn’t foul to much against Oregon so he can actually have a productive game.  Iona will need it.  Jordan averages 18 points and 8 rebounds, and shoots 55% from the floor.

 

16 Facts:

 NC Central: They are making their second tournament appearance of all time.  All within the last 3 years.  This team has dominated the MEAC conference for the last three years.

UC Davis: They are making their first tournament appearance in School History.  If they win the First Four game against NC Central they will survive to play Kansas.

Jacksonville State:  They are making their first appearance of all time in the tournament.  They were picked by the media and the coaches to finish in dead last in their conference this year.

Iona College:  The little school out of New York is a tournament regular within the last couple of years.  Tim Cluess their coach is one of the hottest names among coaching circles out there.  Besides Jordan Washington they have a UCONN transfer in Sam Cassell Jr, and a really exciting sixth man named Deyshonee Much.

Vermont:  The Catamounts have not lost since December 21st.  They are a capable team who may have been under-seeded. They did not lose a game in the America East conference this year.

Nevada: The Wolfpack are coached by ex-NBA headcoach Eric Musselman.  He has relied on transfers to build up his team.  This team is exciting , and possesses two of the best mid-major players in the country in Jordan Caroline and Marcus Marshall.

Rhode Island:  Making their first tournament appearance since 1999.  That year led by Lamar Odom they made the Elite 8 and were two baskets away from the Final Four.  They beat Kansas to make the Elite 8.  Watch for EC Matthews to be a household name. Kuran Iverson is their big man and he is Allen Iverson’s cousin.

Oklahoma State:  You will break a sweat just watching this team play.  They can score, and then score some more.  Their first year head coach Brad Underwood led Stephen F. Austin to two straight NCAA tournaments and beat West Virginia last year.

Michigan State:  The frontcourt is loaded with NBA lottery picks.  Led by Miles Bridges.  Tom Izzo is one of the best in game coaches in College Basketball, its always tough to pick against the Spartans.  Their issue this year has been consistent guard play.

Miami (Fla):  Lots of talent.  They play in the ACC which was arguably the best conference in history this year.  They are battle tested.  Head Coach Jim Larranaga took George Mason to a Final Four.

Michigan:  Fast paced team, who believe Defense and rebounding are over rated.  All 5 starters on the floor can shoot threes and will shoot anywhere on the floor.  Derrick Walton Jr. is a future NBA superstar.

Creighton: Losing Mo Watson has really hurt this team.  Made a run to the Big East title game before falling to Villanova.  Has been a tale of two seasons this year for Creighton.

Iowa State:  Deonte Burton is a human highlight reel when it comes to dunking the ball.  They have one of the most consistent Point Guards maybe ever.  Marcus Morris never turns the ball over, which gives Iowa State more possessions.  They have a sharpshooter in Naz Mitrou-Long

Purdue:  They have a lot of height.  Caleb Swanigan is a NBA lottery pick and a double-double machine. Issac Haas is a 7’2” inch big man who can score and protect the rim.  They like to grind you out inside and kick it out to Dakota Mathias and Ryan Cline to get threes at the end of shot clocks.  Really lock you down on defense.

Oregon:  Dana Altman has the Ducks on the map.  This team is led by Dillon Brooks, they are a potential Final Four team.  Their big man Chris Boucher is out for the remainder of the season with an injury.

Louisville: Rick Pitino always becomes a force to be reckoned with when it comes to tournament time.  Louisville is trendy pick to make the finals and they have the talent and the coach to make that happen.

Kansas:  Kansas may have the best guards in the country in Frank Mason and DeVante Graham.  Bill Self is a Hall of Fame coach.  Have the potential first pick in the NBA draft in Freshman Josh Jackson.  He has a fierce Afro and a fierce game.

Bryan Mauro