Midwest Region Preview
This is actually a double-edged sword for the Tigers. To me, they’re the team to watch in this bracket because they seem so unpredictable. They roared through Conference USA and have a 30-4 record, but those four losses came against the only quality opponents they played.
I look at Memphis as a team that is capable of getting knocked out in their opening game while also being capable of knocking off Michigan State and Duke and making a run to the Elite Eight. Josh Pastner is a bright young coach and Memphis guard Joe Jackson is capable of taking over a game. Unfortunately for the Tigers, Jackson is also capable of completely disappearing in a game.
In a region that is being talked about because of the blue bloods in Duke, Louisville, and Michigan State, Memphis is the wildcard that could make some noise.
Player to Watch: Russ Smith, Louisville
If Louisville gets to Atlanta and cuts down the nets in the Final Four, it will be because Russ Smith leads them there. Smith is one of the most complete guards in the country and also one of the most exciting players to watch in college basketball.
The way he gets after it on defense and attacks on offense is a great model for any young kids to look at when learning how to play the game of basketball.
Smith averages 18 points per game and teams up with Peyton Siva to form what I believe is the best backcourt in America. Look for these two to build off the experience of reaching the Final Four last season to propel them to get back to another Final Four again this year.
Upset Alert: Oklahoma State
The Cowboys are one of the teams that received a big “Screw You” from the selection committee this year.
They are a favorable five seed, but it doesn’t do them any good because they have to travel to San Jose, Ca., to take on the Oregon Ducks. Oregon received a ridiculous #12 seed despite going 26-8 this season and winning the Pac-12 Tournament.
The Ducks are playing well and Dana Altman is an outstanding coach who doesn’t receive the credit he deserves.
Also, Oklahoma State is a talented group, but there will be a tremendous amount of pressure on Marcus Smart to lead them. It could be too much to ask of a freshman who will be playing in his first NCAA Tournament game.
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