The Midwest Region gives No. 1 seed North Carolina some great matchups right up until the end, but then offers a funny little twist that makes life Roy Williams’ a lot more complicated than he wants it to be.
Depending on how you look at it, the Tar Heels probably won’t even break a sweat until the Sweet 16. Even at that point, their presumed opponent in Michigan (18/1 odds to win the Midwest Region) isn’t built to contend with the likes of Harrison Barnes, Tyler Zeller, John Henson and Kendall Marshall. Worst case scenario, even if Henson is still hobbled at this point, North Carolina (7/5 to win the Midwest) still has more than enough talent to take out a streaky, small Wolverines bunch who were quite clearly a notch below the two teams they shared a piece of the Big Ten regular season crown with.
The bottom half of the bracket is actually far more intriguing than the top half. San Diego State (30/1 to win the Midwest) performed relatively will this year, but this team’s loss versus New Mexico in the Mountain West final exposed it for what it really is. There is no Sweet 16 in Steve Fisher’s future this year, and an N.C. State (20/1 to win the Midwest) team with a lot of length and really stable point guard play will be who makes sure of that. Belmont (18/1 to win the Midwest) is riding into this thing on a 14-game winning streak; Georgetown (11/1 to win the Midwest) has turned getting upset in the NCAA tournament into a hobby. Barring something unforeseen happening, look for two lower seeds in Belmont and N.C. State to meet for an epic clash in the Round of 32.
Kansas (21/10 to win the Midwest) will probably get more of a fight than anyone expects it to from Detroit, but the Jayhawks will get their first real test in the Sweet 16 versus the winner of N.C. State versus Belmont. If Kansas manages to land in the regional finals, though, Bill Self’s group will then essentially play a home game versus Williams’ Tar Heels for the right to advance. And we all remember how Williams and his North Carolina squad fared the last time this was the case.
2012 Men’s NCAA Tournament – Odds To Win Midwest Bracket
(found at Bovada on 3/13/2012 – click image to see most current odds)