2024 NCAA Tournament Midwest Region Preview: March Madness Upsets, Picks, Bets, and Bracket

2024 NCAA Tournament Midwest Region Preview: March Madness Upsets, Picks, Bets, and Bracket

The Midwest region is intriguing from top to bottom. Several double-digit seeds have good matchups, and there are a ton of teams that ended the regular season prematurely and are ready for a fresh start. Let’s take a look at the 2024 NCAA Tournament Midwest Region March Madness preview, upsets, picks, bets, and bracket!

Historically, the Midwest region has been represented by a team in the top five seeds. In the last ten tournaments, the average seed to win the region is around 3.7, and six of the ten winners have been top three seeds.

Trends don’t pay the bills, especially in March, but that is something that I found interesting. At first glance of the bracket, I can see another top-heavy Midwest region, especially at the bottom.

The two biggest questions everyone has for this region are if Purdue can exercise the demons from last year and if there is going to be another Cinderella story for St. Peters, who ironically beat Purdue in the Sweet 16 in 2022. Let’s break down/preview the Midwest Region and find some value.

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2024 NCAA Tournament Midwest Region Preview: March Madness Upsets, Picks, Bets, and Bracket

Best Bet: Creighton to make Sweet 16 (-150)

The Blue Jays’ path to the Sweet 16 could not be more favorable. They begin with an Akron team who beat up on a below-average MAC and when they stepped up in class, they lost.

The Zips played three top 80 teams (per Kenpom), and although they fought hard, they were unable to get a win. The big difference here is that Creighton is notches above all three of those teams.

Enrique Freeman and Ali Ali do a lot of the damage for the Zips. Their offensive rating is, on average, nearly 20 points higher than the next most productive player.

The issue is that Akron does most of their damage in two-point range, whereas Creighton is elite (top 20) at defending. A big part of a team producing an upset is three-point shooting, which is something Akron does not do well.

Akron’s three-point defensive metrics are a bit over-inflated. They are among the top 15 in defending the three, but they are in a conference that ranked 27th overall in three-point shooting. Offensively, this Blue Jays team will overwhelm Akron, and I think the gates open to a 15-20-point win.

Their remaining path consists of several teams who I do not think have the experience or shooting to knock off Creighton. Their biggest challenge will come after the Sweet 16 against Tennessee or Texas if the favorites prevail.

Lock in Creighton to the Sweet 16 as your Midwest Region best bet!

Favorite: Purdue +165

Can the Boilermakers do what Virginia did in 2019 after being upset by a 16-seed? Their path alone is possibly the easiest of all the one-seed paths. With favorable matchups against either TCU or Utah State, there should be zero issues getting to the Sweet 16.

Their biggest threats are Creighton and Tennessee, but the good news for them is that the Vols are coached by Rick Barnes, and the Blue Jays are at the bottom of the bracket with them. By my math, that would mean they can only play one of them, maybe neither if there is an upset.

Odds-wise the number is fair, especially with their path consisting of teams who do not match up with them stylistically. It all starts and ends with Edey, but they need more from Fletcher Loyer.

We know what we are getting with Edey and even to a certain extent, Braden Smith. Lance Jones and Loyer are the big ex-factors that will dictate how far Purdue goes.

It is now or never for Purdue. It can be debated that they have the easiest path of any one seed. Outside of the 15 and 16 seeds, I count four double-digit seeds that can pull off an upset. The odds indicate that as well with the point spreads all being competitive.

Dark Horse: McNeese +10000

McNeese and Will Wade are not your typical 12-seed. They have multiple high-level recruits who transferred down and have been dominant all year. Shahada Wells and Christian Shumate are going to give the Gonzaga defense fits with their ability to not only score but also rebound and defend.

Good coaching, shooting, and at least one big-time guard are what you want in a dark horse. McNeese checks all of those boxes and then some. They play at a slow pace (282nd in tempo), and on defense, they turn teams over at the sixth-best rate in the country. All turnovers are not created equal. You want live-ball turnovers that lead to easy baskets, which is what the Cowboys do.

McNeese is not three-point dependent, but they shoot at the seventh-best percentage in the country. They have five players who shoot 40% or higher from deep and four of those are starters.

The balance mixed with the slow tempo can wear down opponents, and with a do-it-all all-guard like Wells, it is a perfect recipe for a Cinderella story.

Two things that do concern me about the Cowboys are their depth and free-throw shooting. They are top-heavy and rank outside the top 270 in bench minutes. This means if any foul trouble occurs, it could throw off their momentum.

The Bulldogs’ strength is in the paint and mid-range. The Cowboys are among the top 30 in two-point defense and will be well-equipped to handle Mark Few’s mid-post actions. From a matchup perspective, I love the draw for the Cowboys, and I think Will Wade can scheme his way into a win with Wells and company.

McNeese is one of my Midwest Region dark horse picks!

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First-Round Upset: (13) Samford over (4) Kansas

This is not your typical Kansas team. They limped to the finish line to end the year with several injuries and losing four of their last five. Kansas is not a deep team (318th in bench minutes), and their best two players are nursing injuries, which limits them even more.

Maybe the time off helped Kansas get healthy, but Dickinson and McCullar would not have played in almost two weeks. Rust is undoubtedly going to be a factor regardless of how healthy they are, and you do not want to get off to a slow start against the Bulldogs, who are explosive offensively.

Normally, teams who play as fast as Samford would not be a positive against inferior talent. However, this Bulldog team has the depth and shooting to complement their pace.

Kansas is a heavy two-point offensive team. They are top 10 in percentage of points coming from two-point range but I believe the Bulldogs will be able to limit that, forcing Kansas out of their comfort zone. They are outside the top 200 in three-point percentage and do not rebound well offensively.

If the Bulldogs can pack the paint and protect the ball, there is no doubt they can upset the Jayhawks. They are three-point reliant, which could be detrimental if they are not dropping, but they have shown time after time that they can win even when the shots are not falling. All of the signs are there for the Bulldogs to advance not only here but into the second weekend.

Midwest Bracket

2024 NCAA Tournament Midwest Region Preview: March Madness Upsets, Picks, Bets, and Bracket

That wraps up our 2024 NCAA Tournament Midwest Region March Madness preview, upsets, picks, bets, and bracket! We are LIVE every night at midnight Eastern, breaking down EVERY SINGLE GAME with more March Madness bracket picks! Ride with Degen Nation, and SGPN will not let you down.

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