Here’s The Game Day’s March Madness Midwest Region Preview and predictions for the 2021 NCAA Tournament, breaking down the region with Illinois, Houston, West Virginia and Oklahoma State as the top four seeds. Zach Brunner offers his advice for Upset Specials, Cinderella Sleepers, and 2021 March Madness Midwest picks.
Read our full 2021 March Madness Picks & Predictions Guide.
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March Madness Midwest Region Preview
March Madness Midwest Region Schedule
- Round 1: Friday, March 19-Saturday, March 20
- Round 2: Sunday, March 21-Monday, March 22
- Sweet 16: Saturday, March 27-Sunday, March 28
- Elite 8: Monday, March 29-Tuesday, March 30
March Madness Midwest Region Teams
- West Virginia
- Oklahoma State
- San Diego State
- Loyola Chicago
- Georgia Tech
- Oregon State
- Morehead State
- Cleveland State
March Madness Midwest Region: Top 4 Seeds Breakdown
Despite having the third-toughest schedule, according to KenPom, Illinois has won 14 of its last 15 games. They have earned their 1-seed, and this team has very few flaws.
Illinois features one of the top duos in the country. Ayo Dosunmu is among the top players in the nation and arguably the most talented player in program history. He can score from anywhere, averaging 20.7 points on 48.8% shooting (38.7% from deep). Dosunmu is balanced out by the seven-foot sophomore Kofi Cockburn, who averages 17.6 points, 9.6 rebounds and 1.3 blocks.
The Cougars are a solid team, but they could be on the wrong side of some mismatches in the Midwest Region. Quentin Grimes was co-Player of the Year in the American conference, averaging 18 points and six rebounds per game. What could become the issue for Houston is its undersized lineup.
(3) West Virginia
West Virginia was tough all season long but is coming off three losses in its last four games, with back-to-back losses against the 4-seed in the Midwest Region. The Mountaineers’ strength is the number of weapons they have in their lineup. Sophomore point guard Miles McBride leads the way, averaging 15.4 points, 3.8 rebounds and 4.7 assists. However, junior center Derek Culver, senior shooting guard Taz Sherman and junior guard Sean McNeil all average double-digit points.
(4) Oklahoma State
The Cowboys of Oklahoma State are one of the most dangerous teams in the country and are likely the toughest 4-seed. When discussing Oklahoma State, we must start with Cade Cunningham, who may hear his name called first in the upcoming 2021 NBA Draft. Cunningham dominated this season, averaging 20.2 points and 6.3 rebounds while shooting nearly 44% from three-point range.
The Cowboys can beat absolutely anyone in the country, thanks to the freshman phenom.
March Madness Midwest Region: Upset Special
(10) Rutgers over (7) Clemson: First Round
This is a matchup between two defensive, battle-tested teams. Both Clemson and Rutgers also struggle to shoot the ball, which could lead to a low-scoring game. The Scarlet Knights defend the paint well, blocking the ninth-most shots in the country (5.9). This means the Tigers will be forced to knock down more jump shots than they may be comfortable with.
Ron Harper Jr. is the obvious leader for Rutgers. However, senior Jacob Young is their X-factor in the NCAA Tournament. Converting nearly 47% of his shots this season, he finally gets his chance to do so in the “Big Dance.” Baker is someone outside of Harper that will take and make a timely shot.
March Madness Midwest Region: Cinderella Sleeper
(14) Morehead State
Morehead State faces a tough matchup against West Virginia in the First Round. The Mountaineers are a great team, and this Cinderella pick isn’t a knock against them. On the contrary. These Eagles are dangerous. With only one loss in 2021, they are coming into the NCAA Tournament hot.
They also have 6-foot-10 freshman Johni Broome, who is a matchup nightmare. Broome is a quick, athletic lefty that can maneuver in the paint. If the Mountaineers overlook the athletic Eagles, we could see many brackets busted early. For what it’s worth, KenPom also gave Morehead State the third-best luck rating in the country.
March Madness Midwest Region: Prediction
Winner: Illinois over West Virginia
West Virginia faces a dangerous Morehead team in the first round, but they should be able to take control of the weak bottom section of the Midwest Region after that. Illinois is one of the most complete teams in the entire NCAA Tournament and is more than capable of winning it all.
Should the Illini escape an upset at the hands of Cade Cunningham, they will face Bob Huggins’ balanced team. What Illinois has over them is the level of competition they have faced, and overcome, this season, after running the gauntlet that was the Big Ten Tournament, which took place in this very building.
March Madness Midwest Region Futures Bet Picks
All betting odds for March Madness Widwest picks are courtesy of BetMGM as of March 17 of 12 p.m. ET. Use BetMGM’s welcome offer — a risk-free bet of up to $600 — to place this and more 2021 March Madness futures bets for the NCAA Tournament.
Illinois to Win Midwest Region (+150)
Illinois has the leading scorer to put up points in a hurry and compete with anyone. They have the big man to exploit mismatches and create extra possessions. They won the Big Ten Tournament in this building already and overcame the third-toughest schedule in the country.
West Virginia to Win 2021 NCAA Tournament (+2000)
The Mountaineers have the fourth-best odds to win this tournament from this region. It makes sense, given they have lost three of their past four games. However, they are an experienced team with an experienced head coach. They have weapons all over the floor, which makes them as dangerous as anyone.
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