There is a lot of talent in this region as the eight top seeds are some really good basketball teams. Lots of great defensive teams and a lot of potent offenses too, but the team every one will be trying to gun for is North Carolina as they are formidable side. That being said, let’s take a look at each team.
- North Carolina
- Iowa State
- Utah State
- Seton Hall
- Ohio State
- New Mexico State
- Georgia State
- Abilene Christian
Wow, how much they descended this year as they are now playing their absolute best basketball coming into the tournament having won 15 of 17 games and came very close to winning all three games against their arch-rival Duke. That being said, this side is close to being the most complete team in the tournament as they boast depth, can control the boards, defend well, and score a lot, plus their shooting is outstanding. Their top players are Luke Maye, Cam Johnson, and Coby White.
This squad has lots of talent, but their problem is the ability to stay consistent with their play. If Kentucky plays to their absolute best, they might be one of the toughest teams in this tournament. One x-factor that makes them so successful is their ability to control the boards, but defensively they are sound. Three-point shooting is not their strength, but that shouldn’t be a problem until they face teams who will force them to shoot three pointers. Some of their top players are P.J. Washington, Tyler Herro, Keldon Johnson.
This is a very good defensive side as they rank first in the nation, and it’s helped propel them to a three seed. That being said, Houston matches up well with essentially any team in the nation and that’s because of their defense. But it’s not even their defense, the offense can score a lot of points as it has put up 80 points or more 10 times this year. They also boast a lot veteran leadership. They shoot well beyond the arc and they defend well against the shot beyond the arc. This is a team who could easily be viewed as a strong contender for the National Championship, however, they do have UNC and Kentucky in their side of the bracket. Some of their best players are Corey Davis and Armoni Brooks.
Weirdly enough, this has not been the strongest Kansas team of late, yet they earned the four seed in this Midwest region of the tournament and have a chance to redeem their season. It might be a lack of experience as they have four freshmen in their lineup, but there is talent there. The Jayhawks will need Dedric Lawson to play his best basketball if Kansas wants a chance to make a run.
Thought to be a top team in the nation at the beginning of the year, Auburn stumbled out of the gates, but some how finished strong to earn a five seed. Auburn is one of the best three point shooting teams in the nation. If they can drain threes, then they are a dangerous team. If not, it will be a much easier time to defeat them. Bryce Brown, Jared Harper, and Chuma Okeke are some of their key players.
To say they don’t size up well against other teams is an understatement as they use a four guard lineup, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t dangerous. In fact, they shoot the lights out of the ball. They boast an incredible sharp shooter in Marial Shayok, but Lindell Wigginton is their secret weapon off the bench as he has scored 13.4 points per game. Problem with Iowa State is that they don’t defend well.
Wofford came out of nowhere this year and had a very strong year as they nabbed the number seven seed. One thing this team can do is shoot really well and when they are hot, it will be very tough to beat them. Some of their top players are Fletcher Magee, Cameron Jackson, and Nathan Hoover. This will be a team to keep an eye on.
Utah State has a nice mix of veteran leadership and fresh faces that makes this team a very dangerous eight seed, maybe the best of all the eight seeds. Sam Merrill is their best player and will need him to be playing at his best to win games and go deep, but he has a supporting casts of players such as Neemias Queta and Quinn Taylor.
The way they win games is that their defense is very good, especially as they play zone (a 2-3 zone to be exact). That’s what helped lead them to a Pac-12 regular season title. However, despite having a strong defense, their offense is suspect and that could be the difference between a deep run or an early exit. Some of their top players are Jaylen Nowell, Noah Dickerson, Matisse Thybulle, and David Crisp.
Seton Hall made a case for themselves to make the tournament after wins over Villanova and Marquette in the Big East tournament, but there are a lot of question marks. Seton Hall seemingly has a one man offense. Myles Powell is a player their offense relies on as he has scored 30 or more points eight times this season. Myles Cale is their best bet to support Powell, but they will need more help than that if they want to advance.
There’s actually a lot to like here about the Buckeyes despite a losing record in conference play. That being said, they were without their best player Kaleb Wesson in that span. He’s now back and this is a much better team than people think. However, he will need to be healthy if the Buckeyes want to win, or otherwise they will lose early.
New Mexico State
They are quietly one of the better lower seeds in the tournament, but this team is dangerous. One of the reasons why they are so good is that their defense is incredibly solid and another is that their ability to control the board is phenomenal. Some players to watch out for are Terrell Brown and Eli Chuha.
Perimeter shooting has been one of the main keys to the Colonial Athletic champions. They like to shoot a lot from outside the arc and are pretty good at nailing them. However, their defense is suspect as they also allow their opponents to shoot a lot and it has cost them. Some of their top players are Vasa Pusica, Jordan Roland, and Bolden Brace.
Georgia State has a very potent offense as all five of their starters average at least 11 points per game. It’s also a very balanced attack. That being said, they can absolutely shoot the lights out of the ball as they boast some sharp shooters in D’Marcus Simonds, Devin Mitchell, and Malik Benlevi.
They are making their first ever appearance in the tournament so where is a lot that can happen in this situation as they could come out with excitement and shock everyone with an upset or they could look like deer in headlights where they look lost. Jaren Lewis is their star player.
Iona started the season off slowly, but played some really good basketball to get into this tournament. Their offense is pretty balanced and should put up some points, but there is a reason why they are the weakest team in the region. Some of their top players are Rickey McGill, Asante Gist, E.J. Crawford, and Tajuan Agee.
This region has a lot of fire power, however, it’s mostly top heavy as the lower seeds are very weak and an upset is not likely (though Ohio State and New Mexico State have good chances). That being said, once it gets deeper into the tournament, some of the best games of the tournament could happen in this region.