The 2022 NCAA Tournament field has been set and the Midwest region could be very intriguing considering who has been slotted in this corner of the bracket.
Kansas sits atop the region as the No. 1 seed and is the lone traditional “blue blood” in this group. Following behind are several top-seeded upstarts like Auburn, Wisconsin, Providence, and Iowa who could all catch fire and have their moment in the sun. Meanwhile, teams like A-10 Tournament champion Richmond and Summit League Tournament champion South Dakota State are laying in the weeds and waiting to catch one of these higher seeds slipping.
Let’s go over what we could see from the Midwest over the next few weeks.
Which games are ripe for an upset
The biggest first-round upset could come during Thursday’s matchup between No. 3 Providence and No. 14 South Dakota State. There’s not that much of a gulf between the two squads from a statistical standpoint with the Friars ranked 49th in KenPom and the Jackrabbits ranked 71st. SDSU swept through their Summit League schedule, and are on a 19-game winning streak. The regular season Big East champs better be on high alert.
A smaller first-round upset could be No. 10 Miami (FL) taking out No. 7 USC. The Trojans have lost three of their last four games heading into the tournament and while they were to Arizona and UCLA, they need to re-gain a spark fast.
Potentially popular picks to fade
Kansas is very much a deserving No. 1 seed with nation-best 12 Quad 1 wins, and has in its arsenal a Wooden Award candidate in Ochai Agbaji. However Bill Self teams are prone to get shown the door around the Round of 32/Sweet Sixteen, making just one Final Four appearance in the last decade. Bet on them at your own risk.
Right behind them is Auburn, who spent multiple weeks at No. 1 this year but has shown vulnerabilities over the last month. The Tigers were immediately bounced from the SEC Tournament last week, and that doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence that they’ll go far.
Who will reach the Final Four
The team that could very well make a run to New Orleans as the Midwest region representative is Iowa, who won the Big Ten Tournament title. The Hawkeyes boast the second-best offense in adjusted efficiency per KenPom and typically put up 80-plus points a game. There is a question of how will they perform when the game slows down, but Keegan Murray and company should be able to dictate these matchups.