March Madness Midwest Region Best Picks
March Madness is here, and the Midwest Regional is going to be tough to beat. It features UNC, No. 2 ranked Kentucky, No. 4 Kansas, SEC and Big 12 conference champions, respectively No.5 Auburn and No.6 Iowa State.
I’m going to break down the Midwest Regional, showcasing the underdog, the Cinderella of this region, the best and worst ATS, and the Over/Under value.
This region is going to be a fierce battle in 2019. Every one of these teams has the goods to emerge victoriously, but it’s going to be the those blue Tarheels from North Carolina, who are favored at +700 to win the whole NCAA tournament by bet365. They have two wins over Duke and went 15 of 16 before falling to Duke and have beaten No.1 seed, Gonzaga. UNC is well-coached, and have some veteran players, (Cameron Johnson/ Luke Maye) who will bring this team to the top, once again. They have some new talent (Colby White) as well and they rank in the top 10 defensively and offensively.
The value bets are No.5 Auburn and No.6 Iowa State at 8/1, who are both coming hot off of its conference championships. Don’t be surprised if these two teams make it to Minneapolis. Auburn comes into the tournament as one of the best teams in the nation at 3-point shooting and steals, while Iowa State is playing its best games of the year. Iowa State has some exceptional shooters and the defense is starting to make its presence felt.
My potential Cinderella is No.8 Utah State. They can play both sides of the ball and have Guard Sam Merrill (21.2 ppg), who is the Mountain West’s player of the year. Also, watch for the Wofford Terriers. They’ve been ranked 20 consecutive games in the KenPom rankings. The Terriers are also good at shooting 3’s, like really good. They’re ranked second in the nation, hitting 41.6 percent of them, and they shoot 3’s a lot. They are 18/1 to win the Midwest. Watch out.
Best ATS Team:
North Carolina is the favorite among bettors. The Tar Heels had the ninth-best ATS record in the nation (21-10-2), covering spreads in all sizes. They ended the season covering the number in its last four games and were 4.5-point underdogs in its 74-73 loss to Duke in the ACC semifinals. The Tar Heels are 8-10-1 ATS in the last five years in the tournament.
Worst ATS team:
What a coincidence, the worst ATS team is the round one opponents to North Carolina, Iona. They went 13-19 ATS this year and failed to make the spread in the last 11 games. They enter this matchup covering eight of their nine games on the way to their fourth consecutive MAAC title. The 24.5 points they’re getting is better than expected.
Best Over Team:
Kansas scores 75.4 points a game while allowing 70, but all the overs are because of how inconsistent they are both sides of the ball. Kansas lost Center Udoka Azubuike to a season-ending injury and Shooting Guard Lagerald Vick. Kansas might be the most over-seeded team this year, but then being the best over than any other Midwest team. They get a total 144 against Northeastern.
Best Under Team:
Those Washington Huskies are the Midwest region’s best Under bet heading into the tournament at 23-11-1, fifth best in the country. They rank 30th in scoring off opponents (64.4) while scoring a merely 68.9 points on their own. Maybe it’s because they play in the worse conference, the PAC-12, sorry. The total for the Huskies opening round matchup with Utah State is 135.
Shortest Travel in Round of 64:
Hey, remember Wofford. Here’s another reason to believe in fairytales. They only have to travel 370 miles to Jacksonville, Florida. Can you say home crowd advantage?
Longest Travel in Round of 64:
Whew, they’re two teams who will have to travel about 2400 miles to get to their opening round matchups. Washington will travel across the country for its matchup against Utah State. The Northeastern Huskies will also be traveling the same distance for its matchup against Kansas.
Players to Watch:
Sam Merrill of Utah State, Dedric Lawson of Kansas, Fletcher Magee are just a few who can all take over games. But it’s freshman Guard, Coby White, from North Carolina to watch out for. Scoring 16.2 points per game on 43.1 percent from the floor, while adding 4.2 assists and 3.4 rebounds per game, this star has the stats and the ability to open it up in big games.