The Midwest Region is the home of the NCAA Tournament’s top overall seed, Louisville, but are the Cardinals really the class of the country or did they just back into the No. 1 seed after what has been an insane year of college basketball? Can L’Ville even make it to the Final Four?
The college basketball odds to win the region in parentheses but keep in mind that the lines change regularly as the action comes in.
The top-seeded Cardinals (+125) are obviously going to be favored after sharing the Big East regular-season title with Georgetown, then taking advantage of the Hoyas’ stumbles to win the conference title. They also have a head coach, in Rick Pitino, that knows how to win at this time of year, but Louisville has some offensive shortcomings that could come to light in the Tournament. No. 2 Duke (+250) also has a Hall of Fame coach in Mike Krzyzewski and a solid inside-outside game, but losing to Maryland in the ACC tourney may have scared some people off of the Blue Devils. Michigan State (+500) picked up the third seed and again, they have a great coach in Tom Izzo. The Spartans are a tough and hard-nosed team that may not be as talented as Louisville and Duke, but they will wear you down defensively and on the boards.
Saint Louis (+800) claimed the fourth seed after winning the Atlanic-10 championship, and they have a lot of motivation heading into the Tournament as the memory of late head coach Rick Majerus has powered the team all season. You could throw a blanket over the trio of No. 5 Oklahoma State (+2000), No. 6 Memphis (+2000) and No. 7 Creighton (+2000), and the Cowboys should be concerned as they’re going to face No. 12 Oregon (+5000), who got hot at the right time of year and won the Pac-12 title. We all know how the 5-12 matchups usually go in the NCAA Tournament and you can expect the Ducks to be a trendy pick over the Cowboys in the round of 64.
The winner of this region should come out of the top three teams, although you can’t count out Saint Louis because as we’ve seen in all types of sports, teams that are playing for something larger than themselves and the game can be a tough out. Not to mention, Louisville, Duke and Michigan State aren’t incredibly talented, they just have fantastic coaching and that usually means more at this time ofyear than talent.
The Blue Devils get the nod here as they have Mason Plumlee, who can hold down the fort in the post, while Seth Curry can carry the Blue Devils with his shooting (although he can also shoot the team out of the game as well). Ryan Kelly seems to be back and healthy from an earlier injury and he may be the most important Blue Devil not named “Coach K”. Overall, Duke has the most balance at both ends of the floor and that’s why they should be your Midwest Region pick on the betting lines.