March Madness is finally here, and the Midwest Region looks as though it could be the most competitive of the entire bracket.
Headlined by the Kansas Jayhawks and rounded out with Auburn, Wisconsin, and Providence, there are some heavy hitters grouped together here.
Additionally, there are a few potential sleepers — including Iowa and USC — that could do some major damage to your bracket.
With that in mind, here’s our complete Midwest Region preview to fill you in on what’s to come and offer up some helpful tips.
March Madness Midwest Region Schedule
Round 1: Thursday, March 17-Friday, March 18
Round 2: Saturday, March 19-Sunday, March 20
Sweet 16: Thursday, March 24-Friday, March 25
Elite 8: Saturday, March 26-Sunday, March 27
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March Madness Midwest Region Teams & Matchups
Each Midwest Region team’s odds to reach the 2022 Final Four are provided by DraftKings Sportsbook.
(1) Kansas (+160)
(16) Texas Southern (+25000)/Texas A&M-CC (+25000)
(8) San Diego State (+2500)
(9) Creighton (+5000)
(5) Iowa (+330)
(12) Richmond (+10000)
(4) Providence (+3500)
(13) South Dakota State (+15000)
(6) LSU (+1500)
(11) Iowa State (+7000)
(3) Wisconsin (+1400)
(14) Colgate (+18000)
(7) USC (+3000)
(10) Miami (FL) (+3000)
(2) Auburn (+250)
(15) Jacksonville State (+25000)
March Madness Midwest Region: Top 4 Seeds
As usual, the Kansas Jayhawks are one of the top teams in the NCAA Tournament this year. Bill Self’s squad went 28-6 on the season and won the Big 12 title with a convincing win over Texas Tech.
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The Jayhawks overwhelm their opponents with their offense. Kansas ranked 25th in the nation in scoring this season, and the team was particularly efficient inside the arc.
Senior Ochai Agbaji is the player to watch here. Kansas went 23-3 when he scored 15+ points this season.
Auburn suffered four of its five losses after Feb. 7, but don’t let that scare you — this is still one of the most elite two-way teams in the country. The Tigers ranked among the top 25 in the nation in both offensive and defensive rating, and they average more blocked shots per game (7.9) than any other team.
Freshman Jabari Smith is the star of the show. The 6-foot-10-inch forward averaged 17.1 points and 7.0 rebounds per game, and he also shot a blistering 42.8% from deep on 5.4 attempts per game. As long as he gets the help he needs from his supporting cast, Auburn could go far.
The Wisconsin Badgers have a few things going for them that make them a scary NCAA Tournament team. Not only are they consistent on both ends of the floor, but they rarely waste possessions, averaging the second-fewest turnovers per game in the country this season.
Star guard Johnny Davis has all the tools necessary to take over in March, with the exception of a consistent three-point shot. However, this is a well-rounded team overall, and opponents will have to play very careful basketball to bring them down.
The Providence Friars are a curious case. They lost just five games on the year, though when they fell, they tended to fall hard. Three of their five losses came by 18 points or more.
There are, however, two sides to the story. Providence was also excellent in close games, going 11-2 in contests that were decided by five points or less.
As long as they don’t let things get out of hand early, they’re capable of going on a deep run.
March Madness Midwest Region: Round 1 Upset Pick
(13) South Dakota State over (4) Providence Friars
Providence defended the three relatively well this year, but I have my doubts that they’ll be able to keep up with South Dakota State. The Jackrabbits — who haven’t lost in three months — converted 44.9% of their looks from deep this season, which ranks first in the country.
This South Dakota State team is absurdly efficient. They rarely turn the ball over, can score from anywhere on the court, and have six players shooting at least 39% from beyond the arc (minimum two attempts). If they get hot, they can certainly take down the Friars.
Other West Upsets To Consider
(11) Iowa State over (6) LSU: Iowa State is an elite defensive team, and with an interim head coach at the helm, LSU may not get the guidance it needs to work around it.
(9) Creighton over (8) San Diego State: The Aztecs’ offense is worrisome, and they may not have enough juice to overcome a Creighton team that performed well defensively this season.
(7) USC over (2) Auburn: USC has the size and strength necessary to compete with Auburn’s bigs, which makes this one matchup to keep an eye on.
March Madness Region Predictions
March Madness Midwest Region: Cinderella
(13) South Dakota State
Three-point shooting is the great equalizer. Any number of self-inflicted mistakes can be overcome by catching fire from deep, and there’s no team in the field that’s better equipped to do so than South Dakota State.
The Jackrabbits went 27-0 in games in which they shot 37% or better from three-point range, a mark that’s well below the 44.9% rate they averaged over the course of the season. If they can stay hot, their scoring ability could carry them into the Sweet Sixteen.
Other Midwest Cinderellas To Consider
(5) Iowa: Though hardly a true Cinderella as a 5-seed, Iowa has what it takes to make a Final Four run.
(7) USC: The Trojans are one of the tallest and best rebounding teams in the field, and they excel at protecting the rim.
(14) Colgate: If the Raiders can get by Wisconsin, there may be a path for them to advance to the Sweet Sixteen.
March Madness Midwest Region Prediction
Midwest Region Winner Pick: (1) Kansas Over (3) Wisconsin
Kansas has a tough road to this spot, including a potential Sweet Sixteen matchup with Iowa, but I still believe they’ll be able to make their way out of this region.
This Jayhawks team is experienced, and their offense will be difficult for any team to slow down. That includes the Badgers, who, at times, struggled to defend opponents inside the arc this season.
March Madness Midwest Region: Best Bets
All March Madness betting odds are current as of 10 p.m. ET on Sunday, March 13.
Kansas to Make Final Four (+160) at DraftKings
Wager: 1 Unit
Of the four 1-seeds in the NCAA Tournament, Kansas has the second-longest odds to make the Final Four. The fact that they’ll potentially have to go through Auburn (+250), Iowa (+330), and/or Wisconsin (+1400) is likely part of the reason why.
Despite the stiff competition in their region, I still like Kansas to advance. I expect them to take their opponents seriously and thrive under pressure.
Iowa to Make Final Four (+330) at DraftKings
Wager: 1 Unit
Should Kansas crack, Iowa would be my favorite to come out of the region. The Hawkeyes are red-hot, and against a relatively strong schedule, they proved that their offense is for real. Iowa ranked fourth in the country in scoring this year at 84 points per game.
This is one team you don’t want to be trading buckets with in the final minutes of a game. Look for Keegan Murray and the Hawkeyes to shine under the bright lights.
Wisconsin to Make Final Four (+1400) at DraftKings
Wager: 1 Unit
Let’s go back to what we said earlier about Wisconsin: the Badgers almost never turn the ball over. Those extra possessions will be key, and if they can continue to limit their mistakes, Wisconsin could make a deep run in the tournament.
At +1400, this is great value for a 3-seed.