Hassan Martin (Photo courtesy URI Athletics
Hassan Martin (Photo courtesy URI Athletics

MARK MADNESS | Mark Adams breaks down the Midwest Region

In bracket order, scouting the NCAA Tournament's Midwest Region for upsets and previewing the games. They start Wednesday with N.C. Central-UC Davis in a First Four matchup:

Ranking System | Chances for an upset

  • UPSET ALERT! Think "Hoosiers" — 60% or higher
  • I’ll take that bet! — Higher than 50%
  • Flip a coin! — 50%
  • Like marrying a Kardashian — 25%
  • So you’re saying there’s a chance (Lloyd Christmas optimism from "Dumb and Dumber" — 1 in a million

UC Davis vs. N.C. Central |
Wednesday, 6:40 p.m. ET


  • Record: 25-8, 13-3 MEAC.
  • Go-to guy: 6-5 SR Patrick Cole (19.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, 5.6 assists, 39% FG shooting, 35% 3PT shooting).
  • Strengths: Levelle Moton’s teams always guard and this might be his best defensive team holding frustrated opponents to under 40% FG and under 30% 3PT. Cole is one of the best offensive weapons you haven’t heard of and Dajuan Graf makes these guys go!
  • Weaknesses: The Eagles are not a great shooting team but not bad. Remember Norfolk State from the MEAC as a #15 seed in 2012 and their win over Missouri. North Carolina Central could be the next MEAC team to do just that. And by the way, N.C. State should hire Levelle Moton. Just my opinion.


  • Record: 22-12, 11-5 Big West.
  • Go-to guys: 6-4 SR Brynton Lemar (16.1 points, 3.3 rebounds, 42% FG shooting, 38% 3PT shooting); 6-6 JR Chima Moneke (14.4 points, 9.4 rebounds, 1.5 blocked shots, 52% FG shooting).
  • Strengths: Jim Les was fired at Bradley, which has hired two coaches and not had a winning season since. He has brought winning ways to UC Davis. Les has a solid defensive team but not a dominating team.
  • Weaknesses: These Aggies probably won’t advance as they turn it over too often, foul too often and struggle from the free throw line.

» UPSET PREDICTION: Flip a coin (50%)

Kansas vs. UC Davis/N.C. Central |
Friday, 6:50 p.m. ET


  • Record: 28-4, 16-2 Big 12.
  • Go-to guys: 5-11 SR Frank Mason III (20.8 points, 4.1 rebounds, 5.1 assists, 49% FG shooting, 49% 3PT shooting); 6-8 FR Josh Jackson (16.4 points, 7.2 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.1 blocked shots, 51% FG shooting, 38% 3PT shooting.
  • Strengths: Mason is the best closer in college basketball. He is the leader of one of the best three-ball teams in the nation shooting over 40% from deep and nearly 50% overall. Jackson is versatile as a Swiss Army knife who makes Kansas even more special.
  • Weaknesses: The Jayhawks could be haunted in two specific areas. We all know there will be a close call or two on the way to a potential Final Four and Bill Self might be losing sleep over a 66% FT shooting team. He also might have a nightmare over a late game three ball going down as KU gives up nearly 36% from behind the arc.

» UPSET PREDICTION: Like marrying a Kardashian (25%)

Miami (Fla.) vs. Michigan St. |
Friday, 9:20 p.m. ET

8 | MIAMI (FLA.)

  • Record: 21-11, 10-8 ACC.
  • Go-to guy: 6-6 SR Davon Reed (15.0 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 44% FG shooting, 40% 3PT shooting).
  • Strengths: Reed is a workhorse for Jim Larranaga and the Canes. He is on the floor 35+ minutes per game and he produces . Miami is a very solid defensive team and rebounds well that rarely fouls. That is always a good thing in the NCAA Tournament where officials seem to call the games tighter. And Larranaga led George Mason to the Final Four in 2006.
  • Weaknesses: The Canes turn it over way too much to be a deep run team. Only one Miami player has a 1.6/1 assist/turnover ratio or better (Bruce Brown).


  • Record: 19-14 10-8 Big Ten.
  • Go-to guys: 6-7 FR Miles Bridges (16.7 points, 8.3 rebounds, 1.6 blocks, 48% FG shooting, 39% 3PT shooting); 6-8 FR Nick Ward (13.7 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1.6 blocks, 59% FG shooting).
  • Strengths: Bridges is healthy and that makes these Spartans interesting and dangerous in March. Bridges gives Tom Izzo a legit 3-point shooting threat, scorer and rebounder. These Spartans intrigue me because while they have struggled at times they defend, well enough and shoot it well enough.
  • Weaknesses: While the Spartans still hold a +3 RPG advantage they do not dominate in this phase as usual. Their real weaknesses are on the free throw line and they turn it over in an un-Izzo like way.

» UPSET PREDICTION: I’ll take that bet (Better than 50%)

Iowa St. vs. Nevada |
Thursday, 9:57 p.m . ET


  • Record: 23-10, 12-6 Big 12.
  • Go-to guy: 6-2 SR Monte Morris (16.3 points, 4.8 rebounds, 6.1 assists, 47% FG shooting).
  • Strengths: Any team with Morris has a chance. Nazareth Mitrou-Long and Deonte Burton give Steve Prohm a strong triple threat on offense. Matt Thomas is also a 3-point weapon. This team has offensive weapons that when firing on all cylinders is a dangerous team.
  • Weaknesses: This is a bad rebounding team and they do not get to the free throw line. The Cyclones are slightly better than average on D. This is a vulnerable team.


  • Record: 28-6, 14-4 Mountain West.
  • Go-to guys: 6-3 SR Marcus Marshall (19.8 points, 3.6 assists, 43% FG shooting, 39% 3PT shooting, 83% FT shooting); 6-7 SO Jordan Caroline (14.8 points, 9.2 rebounds, 47% FG shooting, 34% 3PT shooting).
  • Strengths: Caroline and Marshall were destined to be Missouri Valley starters at Southern Illinois and Missouri State respectively, but now they star for the Wolf Pack at Nevada. Those two along with Cameron Oliver make Nevada a deep run NCAA tournament team. These three make Nevada the best team in the country nobody knows about because they bang threes (38%+) and defend the arc (31%).
  • Weaknesses: This team does not have any outstanding weaknesses other than when they don’t have enough balls to go around for the top three scorers. They do not force turnovers but Eric Musselman’s team is solid.

» UPSET PREDICTION: I’ll take that bet (Better than 50%)

Purdue vs. Vermont |
Thursday, 7:27 p.m. ET


  • Record: 25-7, 14-4 Big Ten.
  • Go-to guys: 6-9 SO Caleb Swanigan (18.7 points, 12.6 rebounds, 54% FG shooting, 45% 3PT shooting, 79% FT shooting).; 7-2 JR Isaac Haas (12.6 points, 5.1 rebounds, 58% FG shooting).
  • Strengths: Swanigan is one of my favorite players in college basketball and Purdue one of my favorite teams. Swanigan truly does it all and Matt Painter can coach and he now has weapons to advance. Purdue is one of the best offensive teams in the country with the ability to shoot, post up and manufacture second-chance points. I really like the Boilermakers!
  • Weaknesses: Purdue is a position and possession defensive team. They don’t turn you over and they are not particularly intimidating inside and they are solid.


  • Record: 29-5, 16-0 America East.
  • Go-to guy: 6-6 FR Anthony Lamb (12.6 points, 3.5 rebounds, 51% FG shooting, 40% 3PT shooting, 74% FT shooting).
  • Strengths: The Catamounts are balanced led by Lamb. You have to execute to beat Vermont. They do not turn it over much and they do not foul. Vermont has outscored their opponents by more than 100 points on the season.
  • Weaknesses: Vermont plays a low-risk defense so while they take care of the ball they do not take many chances on defense and do not force many turnovers.

» UPSET PREDICTION: So you’re saying there’s a chance (1 in a million)

Creighton vs. Rhode Island |
Friday, 4:30 p.m. ET


  • Record: 25-9, 9-9 Big East.
  • Go-to guy: 6-3 JR Marcus Foster (18.3 points, 47% FG shooting, 35% 3PT shooting).
  • Strengths: A team with Foster always has a chance. These Bluejays are hard to guard and their offensive numbers are flying in first class. The Bluejays area top three FG% team and top 12 team 3PT% team. Creighton is a team that ride an offensive wave to a win.
  • Weaknesses: Creighton limped home losing three of their last four games prior to the Big east tournament. The reason? This team doesn’t rebound all that well and defensively they can be porous at times.


  • Record: 24-9, 13-5 Atlantic 10.
  • Go-to guy: 6-5 JR E.C. Matthews (14.9 points, 44% FG shooting, 35% 3PT shooting).
  • Strengths: URI has two great players in Matthews and Hassan Martin. Add Kuran Iverson and a healthy roster for the first time this season as reasons for optimism. Dan Hurley’s team is Ram tough and improving now with all weapons available.
  • Weaknesses: Rhode Island has struggled this season to make three point shots but they do crash the O glass to negate some of that negative. If Rhody can get hot and bang a few shots this team could win a game or two.

» UPSET ALERT! Think "Hoosiers" (60% or higher).

Oregon vs. Iona |
Friday, 2 p.m. ET


  • Record: 29-5, 16-2 Pac-12.
  • Go-to guy: 6-5 JR Dillon Brooks (16.3 points, 2.9 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 51% FG shooting, 41% 3PT shooting).
  • Strengths: The national numbers are off the charts. The Ducks are top 25 in scoring margin. FG% shooting, FG% shooting defense, assists, blocked shots and assist/turnover ratio. Brooks is special!
  • Weaknesses: Shot blocker Chris Bouche is out so all bets are off on this over-seeded team. This guy was a defensive key and is now not available so the Ducks impressive defensive numbers are now suspect.

14 | IONA

  • Record: 22-12, 12-8 MAAC.
  • Go-to guy: 6-8 SR Jordan Washington (17.9 points, 7.4 rebounds, 55% FG shooting, 33% 3PT shooting)/
  • Strengths: The Gaels can be tough to guard as this is a team that hangs their hat on their collective ability to bang the 3-ball at a 39.7% rate, which is top 20 in the nation. Washington is a legit inside talent and Rickey McGill can dish it up and steal it off a plate. Watch out for Sam Cassell Jr.
  • Weaknesses: Rebounding defensively against a high major opponent might be a major issue in crafting an upset. Plus, Iona is an average defensive team that takes risks. If the risks pay off they could win but if not, it’s a first round exit in a blowout.

» UPSET PREDICTION: Like marrying a Kardashian (25%)

Michigan vs. Oklahoma St. |
Friday, 12:15 p.m. ET


  • Record: 24-11, 10-8 Big Ten.
  • Go-to guy: 6-0 SR Derrick Walton (15.2 points, 4.7 rebounds, 4.6 rebounds, 44% FG shooting, 41% 3PT shooting, 87% FT shooting).
  • Strength: Walton is a John Beilein kind of player. High skill with a high basketball IQ who scores, rebounds his position and is a smart passer. He makes the Wolverines go! Speaking of Beilein. his teams are my favorites to watch offensively year in and year out . This season, they are shooting 48% FG and 77% FT. Skill, skill and more skill exemplified in their #1 in the nation with only 9.5 turnovers per game!
  • Weaknesses: The Wolverines only rebound when it drops in their pockets and they play as little defense as possible. Opponents shoot over 48% FG and over 38% 3PT.


  • Record: 20-12, 9-9 Big 12.
  • Go-to guys: 6-1 SO Jawun Evans (19.0 points, 3.3 rebounds, 6.2 assists, 44% FG shooting, 38% 3PT shooting); 6-6 JR Jeffrey Carroll (17.4 points, 6.6 rebounds, 53% FG shooting, 43% 3PT shooting).
  • Strengths: Pressure + Evans + Carroll + Phil Forte = Offense!
  • Weaknesses: This is a high-risk, high-reward defense that gives up good shots. If you can break pressure you can ambush these Cowboys.

» UPSET PREDICTION: Flip a coin (50%)

Louisville vs. Jacksonville St. |
Friday, 2:45 p.m. ET


  • Record: 24-8, 12-6 ACC.
  • Go-to guy: 6-3 SR Donovan Mitchell (15.7 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.1 steals, 41% FG shooting, 36% 3PT shooting).
  • Strengths: It’s Louisville so I don’t have to look at the stats. They guard the heck out of you and block shots with an intimidation factor that gets in opponent’s heads. Mitchell can shoot, Quentin Snider can pass and run the show, Anas Mahmoud and Mangok Mathiang can both erase mistakes. Then there is the Rick Pitino secret weapon that leads to wins every March — depth!
  • Weaknesses: Free throws and personal fouls per game are the issues for this team. Other than that it’s hard to be critical.


  • Record: 20-14, 9-7 Ohio Valley.
  • Go-to guy: 6-2 JR Malcolm Drumwright (12.6 points, 3.8 assists, 42% FG shooting, 36% 3PT shooting).
  • Strengths: Coach Ray Harper has won four national championships (2 NAIA, 2 NCAA Division II) and led Western Kentucky to consecutive Sun Belt tournament titles in 2012-13 as No. 7 and No. 6 seeds, winning four games in four days both times. I do not know of anyone else has ever done that at the DI level. Harper might be the best March Madness coach ever! Drumwright, Greg Tucker and Erik Durham give Harper three guards who can be dangerous. One thing I know for sure, this team will be prepared and play with an edge.
  • Weaknesses: The Gamecocks have not been a good 3-point defensive team on the season and have suffered from too many turnovers until the OVC tournament where their collective decision making and guard play were a plus. This is not a deep team but the starting five are better than most will suspect.

» UPSET PREDICTION: So you’re saying there’s a chance (1 in a million)

Share This Story