Photo courtesy of Lukas Keaproth
It’s Madness Time ladies and gentleman, and with that comes Bracket Challenge season. I spend the entire week leading into the tournament doing bracketology, and in this series I’ll be giving you my entire 2021 Bracket Predictions as the opening tip draws near.
Each day we’ll run through my key thoughts on a specific region, and today we’ve got the Heartland of America, the Midwest. I’ll update each post with links to the other regions as they come out, so if you haven’t gotten the chance to check out the West, East, or South then you’ll be able to find them as soon as the hyperlink appears on the region.
Trader’s Projected Midwest Region Bracket
Most Boring Round of 64 in the Field
For my money this is the least exciting opening round of the tournament, in large part due to the chalk nature I’m predicting in my bracket. That doesn’t mean that there won’t be some interesting matchups in the first two days, but I just think the other three regions are better positioned for true madness to thrive.
Of the games that we will be treated to, I think five of the eight have potential to go either way, but as you can see, I also believe that the higher seeded team will advance in four of those. With that being said, should we see a flip in the script from a team like Liberty or Oregon State, this region has the potential to be special as the tournament progresses. Unfortunately, as far as the excitement surrounding this great tournament I think we may need to look at curbing our expectations of the Midwest.
This Elite Eight Matchup Seems Almost Inevitable
I know that it seems kinda boring, the tried and tired 1/2 Elite Eight, but is there really anything stopping it? Illinois comes in as arguably the hottest team in the field after winning the Big Ten Tournament, as well as my best player of the region. I understand that Cade Cunningham will in all likelihood come out as the #1 overall pick in the upcoming draft, but Ayo Dosunmu is truly something special for the Illini. At just over 20-5-6, Dosunmu has every opportunity to take over in the games he plays. The presence of Kofi Cockburn down low doesn’t hurt either, making this team nearly unstoppable.
As for Houston, the Cougars posted a phenomenal 24-3 record on their way to a two-seed in the Midwest. Led by Quentin Grimes, I just don’t see this team slipping up against what will be inferior competition along the way. West Virginia is the only potential trap that I see the Cougs falling into prior to the Elite Eight, but that won’t be enough for me to take them out of that spot. Unfortunately for Kelvin Sampson, Illinois will simply be too much, and the round of eight will be as far as we see his team progress.
There will be ups and downs with this region, and my nearly chalk bracket is in no way denying that. I think Oklahoma State vs. Liberty will be very close, and I think Georgia Tech vs. Loyola Chicago may well be the best game of the first round in this region, but I just don’t see the finishes coming out in full force the way that they may in other brackets for one reason or another. The Midwest has my 3rd best team in the country in search of their first National Championship in school history, and they’ll be tough to stop in that task. Make sure to check back every day to keep up with all the Bracketology at the Trader Talks Sports Network!