PUT ME IN COACH: Undefeated Shockers will be challenged in tough Midwest Region

If this were the World Cup, the Midwest Region would be the death group. This is by far the toughest region in the tournament and that’s why I think they put Wichita State in this group.

It’s the college basketball gods teaming up with the selection committee saying, “Okay Shockers, you went 34-0 through the regular season and Missouri Valley Conference tournament, now we want you to navigate through the field of Duke, Louisville, Kentucky and Michigan, let’s see how good you really are.”

What the Shockers have done is impressive, but with Creighton no longer a member of the MVC, nobody really challenged Wichita State in the league all season. Looking over the?Shockers’ resume, they’re only marquee win is against Tennessee on Dec. 14, 2013.

If anything is going to get the only undefeated team in the country far in this tournament, it’s going to be Wichita State’s rebounding as its ranked 25th in the country at nearly 40 boards per game. The Shockers overall defense ranks 11th in the country, allowing a little less than 60 points per contest.

Intriguing matchup

No. 6 UMass vs. No. 11 Tennesse

With all the talented teams in this bracket, there aren’t that many intriguing matchups to begin play. Those will come later.

Tennessee is a team that I felt should have gotten a higher seed and was surprised that it had to compete in a “play-in game” to earn a spot. They Vols are better than a lot people think. They are a top 25 team on the glass and gave Florida a run for its money in the SEC tournament.

Along with that, nothing impresses me about UMass as the No. 6 seed and I think Tennesee, which defeated Iowa 78-65 in overtime Wednesday night, will find itself in the Round of 32 for the only upset in the region.

Predictions

Wichita State will stay undefeated as it will get past Cal Poly, Kentucky will likely pull away in the second half to get past Kansas State and Saint Louis should survive a good fight from North Carolina State to move into the third round.

Manhattan, although a team with a lot of quickness, doesn’t have enough offensive firepower to get past Louisville and the Cardinals will advance. I see Tennessee meeting Duke in the third round as the?Vols will be joined by Texas and Michigan as the Midwest Region stays almost chalk.

Enjoy the tournament, folks, and good luck in your pools. Any last-minute questions, don’t hesitate to contact me throughout the tournament via email at dmerrill@marshallindependent.com.