March Madness: Midwest Region Cheat Sheet

Midwest Region

Thank the heavens – March Madness is back in our lives once again. Let’s break down the Midwest Region.

What This Is: A resource. There are endless ways to study this bracket – and I urge you to read up on team summaries, see recent performance, and study who it is that leads these teams.

Related:

March Madness: West Region Cheat Sheet

March Madness: South Region Cheat Sheet

March Madness: East Region Cheat Sheet

In general, I tend to gravitate to a few different factors. Teams with a senior-laden roster, teams that have won their conference tournament, teams that shoot the three exceptionally well, or if there is some other type of dynamic talent on the floor, be it a big man or NBA lottery pick.

The below is a compilation of each first round matchup for the Midwest Region and how teams stack up in the metrics that matter most to me. As always, a special shoutout to TeamRankings.com. 

I’m taking a look at how these offenses and defenses rank nationally, and how reputable sites like KenPom and FiveThirtyEight grade out the squads.

This is heavily focused on analytics and statistics – I’ll be avoiding breaking down the lineups, I’m just trying to get a baseline view of these teams.

At the bottom, I’ll give you my picks for the region. I won’t pretend I’m an expert, I’m just looking at the numbers. Let’s begin.

Midwest Region: Rankings

NCAA tournament bracket: Illinois basketball will play against Drexel

 

#1 Illinois

23-6

#16 Drexel

12-7

Offense

eFG% Rank: 16

Offensive Efficiency Rank: 13

3P% Rank: 25

Defense

Opp. EFG% Rank: 34

Defensive Efficiency: 53

Opp. 3P%: 117

Overall

KenPom Ranking: 3

FiveThirtyEight% S16: 79%

Offense

eFG% Rank: 34

Offensive Efficiency Rank: 42

3P% Rank: 37

Defense

Opp. EFG% Rank: 150

Defensive Efficiency: 170

Opp. 3P%: 82

Overall

KenPom Ranking: 146

FiveThirtyEight% S16: <1%

 

#8 Loyola-Chicago

24-4

#9 Georgia Tech

17-8

Offense

eFG% Rank: 9

Offensive Efficiency Rank: 26

3P% Rank: 81

Defense

Opp. EFG% Rank: 37

Defensive Efficiency: 4

Opp. 3P%: 105

Overall

KenPom Ranking: 9

FiveThirtyEight% S16: 12%

Offense

eFG% Rank: 42

Offensive Efficiency Rank: 41

3P% Rank: 112

Defense

Opp. EFG% Rank: 262

Defensive Efficiency: 147

Opp. 3P%: 307

Overall

KenPom Ranking: 32

FiveThirtyEight% S16: 9%

 

#5 Tennessee

18-8

#12 Oregon St.

17-12

Offense

eFG% Rank: 168

Offensive Efficiency Rank: 93

3P% Rank: 165

Defense

Opp. EFG% Rank: 25

Defensive Efficiency: 11

Opp. 3P%: 72

Overall

KenPom Ranking: 21

FiveThirtyEight% S16: 44%

Offense

eFG% Rank: 231

Offensive Efficiency Rank: 101

3P% Rank: 123

Defense

Opp. EFG% Rank: 190

Defensive Efficiency: 254

Opp. 3P%: 53

Overall

KenPom Ranking: 85

FiveThirtyEight% S16: 10%

 

#4 Oklahoma St.

20-8

#13 Liberty

23-5

Offense

eFG% Rank: 76

Offensive Efficiency Rank: 135

3P% Rank: 162

Defense

Opp. EFG% Rank: 49

Defensive Efficiency: 78

Opp. 3P%: 76

Overall

KenPom Ranking: 30

FiveThirtyEight% S16: 41%

Offense

eFG% Rank: 4

Offensive Efficiency Rank: 8

3P% Rank: 11

Defense

Opp. EFG% Rank: 79

Defensive Efficiency: 68

Opp. 3P%: 86

Overall

KenPom Ranking: 97

FiveThirtyEight% S16: 5%

 

#6 San Diego St.

23-4

#11 Syracuse

16-9

Offense

eFG% Rank: 62

Offensive Efficiency Rank: 33

3P% Rank: 27

Defense

Opp. EFG% Rank: 41

Defensive Efficiency: 9

Opp. 3P%: 126

Overall

KenPom Ranking: 20

FiveThirtyEight% S16: 32%

Offense

eFG% Rank: 131

Offensive Efficiency Rank: 57

3P% Rank: 167

Defense

Opp. EFG% Rank: 103

Defensive Efficiency: 139

Opp. 3P%: 66

Overall

KenPom Ranking: 41

FiveThirtyEight% S16: 17%

 

#3 West Virginia

18-9

#14 Morehead St.

23-7

Offense

eFG% Rank: 228

Offensive Efficiency Rank: 52

3P% Rank: 77

Defense

Opp. EFG% Rank: 180

Defensive Efficiency: 154

Opp. 3P%: 91

Overall

KenPom Ranking: 27

FiveThirtyEight% S16: 50%

Offense

eFG% Rank: 86

Offensive Efficiency Rank: 180

3P% Rank: 119

Defense

Opp. EFG% Rank: 46

Defensive Efficiency: 38

Opp. 3P%: 33

Overall

KenPom Ranking: 128

FiveThirtyEight% S16: 1%

 

#7 Clemson

16-7

#10 Rutgers

15-11

Offense

eFG% Rank: 152

Offensive Efficiency Rank: 191

3P% Rank: 130

Defense

Opp. EFG% Rank: 117

Defensive Efficiency: 43

Opp. 3P%: 164

Overall

KenPom Ranking: 42

FiveThirtyEight% S16: 11%

Offense

eFG% Rank: 167

Offensive Efficiency Rank: 170

3P% Rank: 289

Defense

Opp. EFG% Rank: 67

Defensive Efficiency: 102

Opp. 3P%: 84

Overall

KenPom Ranking: 34

FiveThirtyEight% S16: 17%

 

#2 Houston

24-3

#15 Cleveland St.

19-7

Offense

eFG% Rank: 104

Offensive Efficiency Rank: 5

3P% Rank: 87

Defense

Opp. EFG% Rank: 1

Defensive Efficiency: 3

Opp. 3P%: 7

Overall

KenPom Ranking: 6

FiveThirtyEight% S16: 72%

Offense

eFG% Rank: 132

Offensive Efficiency Rank: 136

3P% Rank: 258

Defense

Opp. EFG% Rank: 120

Defensive Efficiency: 187

Opp. 3P%: 35

Overall

KenPom Ranking: 151

FiveThirtyEight% S16: <1%

 

Midwest Region: First Round Picks

Possible top pick Cade Cunningham has signature Oklahoma State moment

#1 Illinois over #16 Drexel

#8 Loyola-Chicago over #9 Georgia Tech

#5 Tennessee over #12 Oregon St.

#4 Oklahoma St. over #13 Liberty

#6 San Diego State over #11 Syracuse

#3 West Virginia over #14 Morehead State

#10 Rutgers over #7 Clemson

#2 Houston over #15 Cleveland St.

Loyola-Chicago’s numbers are pretty shocking for an eight-seed. KenPom has the former Cinderella a top-ten team in the entire country. That Georgia Tech defense is abysmal, and while they’re fresh off an ACC championship, it’s hard to ignore how much better Loyola is.

The Liberty offense rankings, and Oklahoma State’s lack of top metrics in those categories – has thrown me for quite a loop. The school has name recognition even among casuals like myself because of Cade Cunningham – the expected top pick in the NBA Draft. You have to roll with that individual talent, even though Liberty’s offense is as impressive as it gets on paper. Will likely take them to cover in this one.

There’s not much to like between Clemson-Rutgers. KenPom favors the Scarlet Knights, and with Rutgers known for their shot-blocking, I’ll give em a chance in this one.

Beyond that, it’s a chalk first round in this gauntlet of a region.

San Diego State, Gonzaga lead NCAA power shift in 2019-20 - Sports Illustrated

Second Round

#1 Illinois over #8 Loyola-Chicago

#5 Tennessee over #4 Oklahoma St.

#6 San Diego St. over #3 West Virginia

#2 Houston over #10 Rutgers

Sweet Sixteen

#1 Illinois over #5 Tennessee

#6 San Diego St. over #2 Houston

Elite Eight

#1 Illinois over #6 San Diego St.

That Tennessee-Oklahoma State second round game had me going back and forth for awhile. I’ve decided to advance Tennessee simply for the fact that their first round matchup against Oregon State is significantly less difficult than Oklahoma State’s against Liberty. Add in the contrarian value pick when most will likely be taking Cunningham and the Cowboys, and it’s the play for me.

I really like San Diego State’s balance – strong on both ends. Houston is one of the nation’s top defenses, but the teams they’ve beaten don’t wow me, not that SDST is much better. This is likely more a pick against chalk. I can’t put three 1 vs. 2s in my Elite Eight.

We haven’t yet talked about Illinois, one of the favorites to win the tournament. Their biggest weakness from above is their three-point defense. SDST would actually give them the toughest matchup, so if they meet in the Elite Eight, the Aztecs would have a chance.

I’m moving the Illini into the Final Four here. They’ve played as good as anyone this season and that momentum has to be respected.

So, that’s my Midwest Region – I hope you don’t blindly follow me. What I do hope is that the above metrics consolidated help bring you some familiarity with the teams playing.

For the next few regions, make sure you’re following on Twitter, @griffybets. Missed you March.

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