By Brady Stiff
The Midwest Region in the 2010 NCAA Tournament is one of the more treacherous ones. You’ve got the likes of Kansas, Michigan State, Ohio State, Georgetown, Maryland and Tennessee. Loads of tournament experience on those teams both on the floor, and in the head coaches.
The Midwest also boasts some mid-majors that have a shot to make some noise. Northern Iowa is a team that’s been talked about as a good mid-major for awhile now, and they’ve got a tough first round matchup with UNLV. UNI sports the second best scoring defense in the country, thanks in large part to coach Ben Jacobson’s substitution patterns. He’s always keeping fresh legs in the game, and he’s not afraid to sub out all five guys at once. I’ll take UNI.
In the second round, we’ll see some fantastic games. I think UNI will be the one to try to slow down Kansas. I do think Kansas will win, but UNI will give them a fit. Assuming Michigan State and Maryland both advance, they’ll go head to head in an epic battle of heady players. Kalin Lucas for Michigan State and Greivis Vasquez for Maryland are two of the best players in the country, and whichever one plays better will take their team to the Sweet 16.
Georgetown and Ohio State could easily come out of this bracket. When I say “easily”, I don’t mean it will be easy, I mean I could see it happening. Georgetown has Greg Monroe, who may be the most complete big man in the country. As long as he stays out of foul trouble, the Hoyas will be tough to beat.
Ohio State has maybe the best starting five in America. But the general consensus is that’s where their team stops. Evan Turner could easily be the National Player of the Year, and with good reason. He did miss a few games in the middle of the season, but those games showed just how valuable he is to the Buckeyes. Overlooked are players like David Lighty and William Buford, both of whom can light it up from distance. And then there’s of course Jon Diebler. If he gets hot, you might as well just go home because he can flat out shoot it.
In the end, I think the Jayhawks are the best team in the region. Call me Rock Chalky, but they aren’t the tournament’s overall #1 seed for nothing. Great guard play is one of the keys to a title run, and they’ve got that with Sherron Collins. They’re also deep at the guard position with the young Tyshawn Taylor and Xavier Henry. Cole Aldrich has to be one of the best big men in America, but he can’t get into foul trouble.
That all being said, the Jayhawks aren’t without fault. They can get themselves in trouble with shot selection, and the result of that is some scoring droughts. In their loss to Tennessee, they went through an almost seven minute stretch where they scored just eight points. In their loss to Oklahoma State, they scored just 11 points in the last minute of the first half and first seven minutes of the second. Those kinds of droughts are fatal in the NCAA Tournament.
I do think Kansas will come out of the Midwest, but don’t be surprised if it’s Ohio State or Georgetown instead.