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2022 NCAA Tournament
(Emma Praveck/University Daily Kansan)

2022 NCAA Tournament Midwest Region Preview: Kansas Secures No. 1 Seed

2022 NCAA Tournament
(Emma Praveck/University Daily Kansan)

2022 NCAA Tournament Midwest Region Preview

Welcome to our 2022 NCAA Tournament coverage! For other region previews, click below!

South Region | East Region | West Region

No. 1 Seed Overview: Kansas Jayhawks

Kansas definitely deserved to snag a No. 1 seed after winning the conference tournament for the Big 12, which is generally agreed upon as the toughest league in college basketball. The shining star for Kansas this season has been first team All-American Ochai Agbaji. The senior guard is averaging 19.7 points per game while shooting 47.7% from the field and 40.5% from three.

One of the biggest potential flaws with this Kansas team is that the production revolves around Agbaji far too much. Christian Braun and Jalen Wilson have each shown up at various times, but the majority of the time it falls to Agbaji being the one to carry the team. He’s good enough to do that, but obviously it would be better if there were other players able to make those major contributions consistently. David McCormack and Remy Martin were expected to be much better than they ended up playing this season, so that’s another disappointing aspect to Kansas’ overall team.

However, the Midwest Region is generally in Kansas’ favor. They still look to be the most complete team and winning the Big 12 Tournament is great from a momentum perspective. In what could be the most chaotic region of all of them, they have a great shot to emerge.

Sleeper Team to Win Region: No. 5 Iowa Hawkeyes

Iowa is probably the hottest team in the country and just won the Big Ten Tournament. They’re probably under-seeded as a No. 5 seed. With a pretty favorable draw in a chaotic region, it’s pretty easy to picture this team reaching the Sweet Sixteen. From there, who knows? Keegan Murray is one of the best players in the country and Jordan Bohannon is always capable of hitting a ton of threes. Iowa has also started to tighten things up on defense lately, which was one of the biggest knocks on their long-term outlook. The Hawkeyes haven’t performed great against top-flight competition, but the way they have been playing entering March, it feels like they can beat almost anyone.

Double-Digit Seed Most Likely to Make Noise: No. 13 South Dakota State Jackrabbits

Maybe this is the popular pick because of how many people believe No. 4 Providence is a complete fraud, but there’s good reasons to like the Jackrabbits. For one, they are one of the most efficient offenses in the entire country and shoot the three better than any other team. As a TEAM, South Dakota State converts 45% of their attempts from beyond the arc. However, it’s not just a team of shot-making no-names – the Jackrabbits have a legit star in sophomore guard Baylor Scheierman. He ranks No. 5 in Heat Check CBB’s Gold Star Guide and averages 16.7 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 4.6 assists per game while shooting an incredible 51.2% from the field and 47.3% from three. South Dakota State doesn’t really play a ton of defense, but you’re kidding yourself if you don’t think the offense can do something special.

Player to Watch: Keegan Murray, Iowa Hawkeyes

Kentucky’s Oscar Tshiebwe is the odds-on favorite to be named the National Player of the Year, but look out for Iowa’s Keegan Murray. The sophomore forward is putting up 23.6 points and 8.6 rebounds per game and shooting 55.5% from the field and 40.5% from three. A major reason why Iowa was dominated by Oregon in last year’s tournament was a disparity in athleticism. Keegan Murray is a far more athletic and well-rounded star than Luka Garza was. He can get the Hawkeyes far in this tournament.

Most Intriguing First-Round Game: No. 3 Wisconsin Badgers vs. No. 14 Colgate Raiders

This will be an interesting game because the upset potential is very much there. Wisconsin had a surprisingly good season, but they’re very Johnny Davis-dependent and he looked hobbled in the Badgers’ previous game against Michigan State. Furthermore, Wisconsin enters the tournament losers of two straight and didn’t make anything happen in the Big Ten Tournament. On the other side, Colgate is the second-best three-point shooting unit in the country and run a very fast-paced offense. The Raiders dominated their Patriot League competition and almost pulled off an upset as a No. 14 seed last season vs. Arkansas. If Colgate catches Wisconsin flat-footed, things could really get interesting.

Prediction

This region is going to be a disaster, I can just feel it. So many untrustworthy teams in one region is the perfect storm for something wild to happen. In a weird way, that benefits Kansas as many of the other contenders for the region are vulnerable to fall early. Auburn, Wisconsin, and Providence have displayed major flaws entering the tournament. Not to say Kansas doesn’t have flaws as well, but they’re situated themselves well with the No. 1 seed to avoid some matchup difficulties.

Region Final Prediction: No. 1 Kansas over No. 7 USC

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