NCAA First Round Preview and Prediction: Midwest Region
by Ryan of The Sportmeisters
(1) Louisville vs. (16) Morehead State
About Louisville: The Big East regular season and conference tournament champion, the Cardinals are getting hot at the right time, earning the No. 1 Overall Seed. They have won 20 of their last 22 games. Junior Earl Clark leads the team with 14 points and 8.8 rebounds.
About Morehead State: Winners of the play in game, they now get the right to lose to Louisville. The Ohio Valley Conference Champions are in the tournament for the first time since 1984. Sophomore Kenneth Faried is a beast down below, averaging 13.9 points and 13.1 rebounds.
The Pick: Louisville, it’s common sense.
(8) Ohio State vs. (9) Siena
About Ohio State: The Buckeyes are getting hot at the right time, winning four of their last five, but lost in the Big 10 Championship against Purdue. Sophomore Evan Turner has the hot hand, averaging 17.1 PPG.
About Siena: Heading to their second straight NCAA tournament by way of their Metro Athletic Atlantic Conference Tournament championship, the Saints have won eight of nine. Senior Kenny Hasbrouck, MAAC Tournament MVP, averages 14.8 PPG
The Pick: Ohio State in a close one.
(5) Utah vs. (12) Arizona
About Utah: The Mountain West Champions are making their first appearance in the Tournament since 2005, but they are not virgins to the game, as they are making their 25th appearance overall. Senior Luke Nevill paces the inside with 16.9 points and 9.1 rebounds.
About Arizona: The 19-13 Wildcats are a big shock to many to be in the Tournament, but apparently they made the right friends. Losers of five of their last six, many are still picking them as the 12-5 upset du jour. To do that, they would need a big game from their front court, including Junior Jordan Hill, averaging a double-double with 18.5 points and 11 rebounds.
The Pick: Utah, no upset here.
(4) Wake Forest vs. (13) Cleveland State
About Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons are a young, inconsistent team, evidence being wins in four of their last five games, but losing their ACC Quarterfinal matchup. If Sophomore Jeff Teague and his 19.1 PPG average are on, they are an unstoppable force.
About Cleveland State: They give up an astonishing 58.9 points, but only score 66.1 themselves. Despite all this, the Vikings won the Horizon League and earned their first NCAA berth in 23 years. Senior J’Nathan Bullock paces the team with 15.3 points and 7 rebounds.
The Pick: Wake Forest in a solid victory
(6) West Virginia vs. (11) Dayton
About West Virginia: Despite only a 10-8 Big East record, their 23-11 overall record helped earned them one of the Big East’s seven NCAA bids. Junior Da’Sean Butler leads the Mountaineers with 17.3 PPG.
About Dayton: They are back in the tournament for the first time since 2004, despite losing in the Atlantic 10 Semifinals. Sophomore Chris Wright leads the Flyers with 12.9 points and 6.5 rebounds.
The Pick: West Virginia, yawn.
(3) Kansas vs. (14) North Dakota State University
About Kansas: The defending National Champions and Big 12 Regular Season Champions got a case of humble pie in the Big 12 Tournament, getting upset by Baylor in the Quarterfinals, and have lost two of their last three. Junior Sherron Collins, the sixth man of last years winning team, is the stud this year with 18.3 points.
About North Dakota State University: The Bison have won 18 of 19, including seven in a row, on their way to their first Summit League title and first ever NCAA Tournament appearance in their first year of eligbility. Senior Ben Woodside leads the team with 22.8 PPG.
The Pick: Kansas, though NDSU might look for an early upset.
(7) Boston College vs. (10) Southern California
About Boston College: The Eagles couldn’t make it past the ACC Quarterfinals, but still earned another at-large berth. Senior Tyrese Rice leads the team with 17.1 points and 5.4 assists.
About Southern California: After losing six of seven, the Trojans have reeled off six straight, including the Pac-10 Championship, to earn their third bid in the last four years. They have four players scoring in double digits, led by Junior Taj Gibson’s 14.3, along with 9.1 rebounds.
The Pick: USC, thanks to their hot streak.
(2) Michigan State vs. (15) Robert Morris
About Michigan State: Winners of seven of their last eight, the Big 10 Regular Season Champions fell flat in the Big 10 Tournament, losing to Ohio State in the Semifinals and missing a chance at a Number one seed. Sophomore Kalin Lucas leads the team with 14.8 points and 4.4 assists.
About Robert Morris: The Northeast Conference Champions are making their first NCAA Appearance since 1992. They are led by Senior Jeremy Chappell with 16.9 points and 6.3 rebounds.
The Pick: Michigan State in a walk.
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