2022 NCAA Tournament Midwest Region Preview

by Keith Lott
2022 NCAA Tournament Midwest Region

Welcome to the 2022 NCAA Tournament Midwest Region Preview!

What a time to be alive, March Madness is back, baseball is back,  Tom Brady is back. Everything is looking up for us sports fans!

This Midwest region has the real potential for three double-digit seeds to win their first-round games. I even think one of them has a legit shot at the Sweet Sixteen!

The top dogs in this region are the Kansas Jayhawks and the Auburn Tigers. Kansas features some first-round NBA talent, but they don't have Jabari Smith.

Of all the regions, the Midwest might be the softest. This bracket features just five top 25 KenPom teams, with Kansas (KenPom #6) the lone top-10 squad. The other regions feature two or three top-10 teams.

2022 NCAA Tournament Midwest Region Preview

Breakdown of the Top 4 Seeds

#1-seed Kansas Jayhawks

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DK Sportsbook Odds: +850 to win, +100 Final Four

Kansas comes into the tournament battle-tested having faced the toughest defensive opponents in the entire country! The are coming off a Big-12 tournament title and Ochai Agbaji has looked incredible down the stretch. He finished as the leading scorer in the conference, shooting 47.7% from the field (40.5% 3pt).

Fellow senior David McCormack was second in rebounding in the Big-12 and has nearly as many offensive rebounds as defensive rebounds. His sub 50% field goal percentage leaves something to be desired but he does take four free throws per game and shoots 75% from the charity stripe.

Junior guard Christian Braun is the team's other scorer and at 6'6 is one of the better rebounding guards. He has posted double-digit rebounds in five games since February. Four games were double-doubles.

#2-seed Auburn Tigers

DK Sportsbook Odds: +1200 to win, +250 Final Four

Auburn is coming off an SEC tournament loss to Texas A&M (67-62).

Freshman Jabari Smith finished fourth in the SEC in scoring at 17.1 points per game and at 6'10 also finished fourth in 3-point percentage at 42.8% on over five attempts per game. He also grabs seven rebounds per game.

Sophomore guards Wendell Green Jr. (5'11) and K.D. Johnson (6'0) help shoulder the load offensively. Green led the team in three-point attempts and assists while Johnson does a good job creating contact and drawing fouls. Neither guard is an efficient three-point shooter but they are not afraid to shoot.

7'1 sophomore Walker Kessler locks down the paint on defense. He has two games this year with double-digit blocks and averaged 4.5 blocks per game to lead the SEC. He shoots 62.5% from the field and adds eight rebounds per game. However, he is just a 60% free throw shooter.

Auburn plays at a top 40 tempo with top 10 defense. Gonzaga is the only other team in both subsets. None of the other top 10 defenses play at a top 90 tempo!

#3-seed Wisconsin Badgers

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DK Sportsbook Odds: +10000 to win, +1400 Final Four

The Badgers have played a tough schedule with their opponent's offenses ranking in the top 10 and opposing defenses in the top 40. However, they are also a top 10 team in luck, according to KenPom. Only 12 of the top 50 teams in luck made the tournament and none of them are seeded as high as Wisconsin.

Wisconsin is coming off back-to-back losses. A Big Ten tournament loss to Michigan State and a one-point loss to Nebraska, a game in which Johnny Davis only played 11 minutes due to an ankle injury.

Take from all of that what you will because Johnny Davis is one of the best scorers in the country, when healthy. He was third in the Big Ten in scoring at 19.7 points per game, but the top guard. He shot 43.4% from the floor this season (31.7% from deep). He was also the best rebounding guard in the conference at 8.2 rebounds per game.

When it's not Davis on offense, fifth-year senior Brad Davison is shooting from beyond the arc. When hot, he can put up 20+ points. He was second in the Big Ten in 3-point attempts despite shooting 34.8%.

Freshman guard Chucky Hepburn is about to make himself known to a national audience. He has played better as of late and might be asked to do more with Davis not 100% healthy.

#4-seed Providence Friars

DK Sportsbook Odds: +25000 to win, +3500 Final Four

They were the luckiest team in the nation this season, according to KenPom and are coming off a loss to Creighton (the #9-seed in the Midwest Region) in the Big East tournament 85-58.

The Friars run a slow offense at 65.2 possessions per 40 minutes with their first look being 6'10 senior Nate Watson down low. The rest of the team is willing to shoot and they do not rely on just one guy as four other players attempted 200+ shots this year.

6'8 Senior Noah Horchler (45% FG, 40% 3pt) and 5'10 Jared Bynum (42.6% FG, 41.7% 3pt) are Providence's best scorers while A.J. Reeves is their 3-point specialist (5.8 3pt/g, 37.7%).

Senior guard Al Durham led the Big East in free throw attempts and shoots 84.7% from the line. His ability to draw fouls could be the key to preventing a first-round upset as the San Diego Jackrabbits play a much faster game and rely on knocking down 3-pointers. However, he is wildly inefficient from the field (34.3% FG, 22% 3pt).

Dark Horse Team of The Region

#11-seed Iowa State Cyclones

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We have seen teams rely heavily on one player and go on runs in March before. 6'4 senior guard Izaiah Brockington is ready to put the Cyclones on his back.

On the year, he averaged 17 points (4th in Big 12) and 7.1 rebounds (3rd in Big 12). He shot 46% from the field (37.6% 3pt).

Brockington was a much better player at home versus on the road this year, but the tournament is played on neutral territory.

The month of March has not been kind to Izaiah Brockington but he was red hot in February. If he can find his rhythm again, he could carry the Cyclones to the Sweet Sixteen with upsets over LSU and Wisconsin.

Iowa State played an extremely tough schedule this year, which hopefully prepared them for a run in the Midwest region.

Other Players to Watch From the Region

  • Keegan Murray - Iowa
    • Potential top 10 pick
    • 23.6 ppg (1st in Big Ten)
    • 55.5% FG
    • 40.5% 3pt (4.8 att)
  • Tari Eason - LSU
    • Potential lottery pick
    • 16.9 ppg (6th in SEC)
    • 52% FG
    • 6.7 reb (9th in SEC)
  • Isaiah Mobley - USC
    • 14.3 ppg (7th in Pac-12)
    • 8.5 reb (2nd in Pac-12_
  • Matt Bradley - San Diego State
    • 17 ppg (9th in Mountain West)
    • 41.6% 3pt (4.4 att)
  • Kameron McGusty - Miami
    • 17.6 ppg (4th in ACC)
    • 48% FG
    • 37.3% 3pt (4.6 att)
  • Ryan Kalkbrenner - Creighton
    • 13 ppg (19th in Big East)
    • 64.6% FG (4th in Big East)
    • 7.6 reb (8th in Big East)
    • 2.7 blk (2nd in Big East)

Best Game Of The First Round

#4-seed Providence vs #13-seed South Dakota State Jackrabbits

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I think the Jackrabbits have a real shot at upsetting Providence and potentially in blowout fashion. They could become the darling of this region and grow their fanbase in a potential second-round game against Iowa. This region is filled with boring, methodical offenses and the Jackrabbits are here to cause chaos!

South Dakota State features three players that average 14+ points per game, including Baylor Scheierman who shoots 47.3% from beyond the ac! The 6'6 sophomore guard also grabbed 7.8 rebounds and racked up 4.6 assists per game.

Pack Your Bags for New Orleans

Jabari Smith is going to showcase to a national TV audience why he deserves to be considered the number one overall pick in this upcoming 2022 NBA Draft. He will carry Auburn to the Final Four, knocking off the Kansas Jayhawks.

Check out Tomlin's NCAA Tournament Gambling tips!

Breaking Down the Brackets

South Region
East Region
West Region

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