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NCAA Tournament Preview
The NCAA Tournament is finally upon us. March Madness will ensue on Thursday.
This yearís tournament is extremely balanced and there doesnít exist a
juggernaut that is seemingly unbeatable as was the case in many years past. The
distribution of the coveted 1 seeds was controversial, and many felt that Ohio
State and West Virginia deserved a top seed over Duke. Regardless of the
seeding, there are many teams with a shot of making it to Indianapolis, IN for a
trip to the Final Four in 2010. For all the latest odds to win the tournament be
sure to check out our
top sportsbooks list.
Letís take a look at the Midwest region.
Kansas immediately jumps off the page in the Midwest. They have been nearly flawless this year. The Jayhawks enter the NCAA Tournament after winning the Big 12 Tournament where they vanquished rival Kansas State. This team has lost just twice this year. Those losses came to Tennessee and Oklahoma State. They narrowly survived in OT against Colorado and Kansas State. The Jayhawks registered a 2 point victory over Memphis early in the season. Marquee wins for Kansas include a 3 game sweep of Kansas State and a win over Baylor. G Sherron Collins leads the team at 15.6 PPG. Freshman G Xavier Henry is the second leading scorer with 12.6 PPG. Cole Aldrich is also pivotal with 11.2 PPG and 9.9 RPG. The Jayhawks are very stellar, but not unbeatable.
Several teams pose a threat to Kansas going to the Final Four. The most likely candidate to prevent them from doing so is the 2 seed Ohio State Buckeyes. Led by Evan Turner, this team is dangerous and entering the Big Dance after taking the Big 10 Tournament. They crushed Minnesota in the championship game. The Buckeyes are a team that has come on strong in the latter half of the year. Coach Thad Matta knows how to engineer a deep run in the NCAA Tournament and will have his team ready.
The Maryland Terrapins earned a 4 seed after sharing the ACC regular season championship with Duke. Gary Williamís team struggled in the early part of the year, but came on strong in the second half of the season under the leadership of senior G Greivis Vasquez. The passionate native of Venezuela can put this team on his back and carry them to the Final Four. He is a double edged sword however. When he is hot he cannot be stopped, but when he goes cold so does the entire team. The Terps can also count on the sharp shooting G Eric Hayes. C Jordan Williams is a force in the paint although he is only a freshman. Gary Williams led the Terps to the NCAA Title in 2002 and has the horses to get the job done this year.
The 6 seeded Tennessee Volunteers know what itís like to knock off top teams. They beat #1 Kansas and #1 Kentucky this year. Bruce Pearlís club enters the Big Dance with a sour taste in their mouth after getting waxed by a Kentucky team that was out to avenge a loss earlier in the season. Senior swingman Wayne Chism will need to play out of his mind for this team to go far. He put up 26 pounds and grabbed 12 rebounds in a win over Ole Miss.
Regular followers of college basketball know that Tom Izzo is one of the best coaches around. He has his Michigan State Spartans poised for another run to the Final Four after making it there last year. The Spartans earned a 5 seed. They beat Gonzaga, Wisconsin, and a Hummel-less Purdue this year. G Kalin Lucas leads the team at 13.9 PPG. He had 22 points in a 65-64 win over Minnesota. They have had hiccups this year, but there is no reason they canít get hot and make a run.
If Kansas plays their best basketball they should win the Midwest region. Bill Self will make sure they stay focused, but they have had close calls this year despite losing just twice. The hot Maryland Terrapins and Ohio State Buckeyes are the most likely upset candidates. Michigan State has the benefit of having done it before. From a wagering standpoint Ohio State is the play thanks to G Tucker.