The #1 overall seed Kansas Jayhawks look to emerge out of the Midwest and into the Final Four unscathed. Can they do it, or will Evan Turner and Ohio State deny them that opportunity. In a bracket filled with star-studded coaches and rich traditions, this region might be one of the most exciting there has ever been.
Click through to see intriguing matchups and whether or not Kansas will waltz to the Final Four...
Although Kansas is the clear favorite to not only win the Midwest Region, but the whole dang thing in my opinion, they got an absolutely brutal draw for a bracket. Although Kansas has been rewarded with a spot close to home, they also have the only two teams they lost to in the regular season (Oklahoma State, Tennessee) in their bracket and could face them if they pull some upsets.
There a lot of really good first round matchups in this bracket and there should be a few great games tomorrow and Friday.
#8 UNLV vs. #9 UNI- This matchup is a contrast of styles. UNLV loves to run and gun while Northern Iowa likes to walk it up the court. This game will be in the upper 50's, lower 60's and that gives the advantage to UNI, but this game should be one of the closest ones in the first round.
#4 Maryland vs. #13 Houston- This probably has the honor of having the best two players matchup in the first round. Aubrey Coleman of Houston leads the country in scoring and is 8th in steals. Maryland lives and dies by General Vasquez, but they should be able to pull this one out regardless.
#7 Oklahoma State vs. #10 Georgia Tech- OSU has the best player that nobody knows about in James Anderson, and Tech will get a healthy dose of him in the first round. Tech has the size advantage and Favors was a man in the ACC Tournament so it should be a fun game to watch.
Best Upset Pick
#11 SDSU over #6 Tennessee- To me this may not even be an upset. I think SDSU has the coaching advantage and the talent of the players on the court is closer to even since the suspensions of Volunteer players earlier in the year. Steve Fisher has been to the tournament several times with several teams and made Final Fours. Pearl will need to coach the best game of the season to see that the Aztecs don't move on to the 2nd round.
This category is nearly impossible to answer. There are 8 coaches, yes EIGHT COACHES, that have been to the Final Four before in the Midwest Region. Tom Izzo, Bill Self, Steve Fisher, Gary Williams, Thad Matta, John Thomposon III, Paul Hewitt, and Lon Kruger. The best coach of that bunch is Gary Williams in my opinion. While recruiting is certainly a part of basketball, Gary Williams wins with no AAU players. I don't think anybody knows how hard that is. Williams is the best in-game coach in the country, and he can lead any team that he has coached for a year to a National Championship.
Kansas will emerge from this region and represent the Midwest in the Final Four. They are the best team in the country and are led by a fantastic host of players (Collins, Aldrich), and Bill Self at the reigns. If for some reason they get upset, look for a dark horse such as Maryland or Georgetown to take their spot instead.
>Steve Fisher won a National Championship as an interim head coach at Michigan. He also won an NIT championship last year.
>4 of the teams in this bracket have won National Championships. Kansas, Michigan State, and Maryland have won it this decade with Georgia Tech reaching the championship game (ironically by beating Oklahoma State to do so)
>Tom Penders is the eigth coach in NCAA history to take 4 different teams to the tournament.
>The last time Kansas was in Oklahoma City for a first round game they lost to the #14 seeded Bucknell Bison, who did not even have a band at a game. They got the Northern Iowa band to play for them with pizzas and t-shirts.
This bracket is the best of the four by far in terms of team names, players, and coaching talent. Anybody that survives this region will more than likely be the favorite to win the whole tournament. I look to Kansas to do just that and take the 2010 NCAA Championship out of the Midwest.