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2024 March Madness Preview: Midwest Region

March Madness Preview
(Trevor Ruszkowski/USA TODAY Sports)

March Madness is finally upon us, so let’s take a look at the teams in the field of 68. Here is the Midwest Region, headlined by number 1 seed Purdue.

(Courtesy of NCAA)

1) Purdue Boilermakers

29-4 Big Ten At-Large

There might be more pressure on Purdue than any other team in the tournament. The Boilermakers have been upset by double-digit seeds in the last three tournaments, including last year’s loss to 16-seed Fairleigh Dickinson. Not only that, but this is the last chance for potential 2-time National Player of the Year Zach Edey to get to the Final Four. In addition to the major interior presence that Edey is, Purdue also has the backcourt trio of Braden Smith, Lance Jones, and Fletcher Loyer as they look to finally get over the hump and advance deep into March.


16) Grambling State Tigers

20-14 SWAC Champions

Grambling State will be competing in its first-ever NCAA Tournament after being at the top of the SWAC standings all year. The Tigers will enter the dance, having won 9 of their last 10. Grambling’s offense runs through Tra’michael Moton, who scored 26 points in the SWAC semifinal, then transitioned into a facilitator, dishing 7 assists in the SWAC championship game.

8) Utah State Aggies

27-6 Mountain West At-Large

Danny Sprinkle’s first year at Utah State has been a resounding success. The Aggies were at the top of the strongest Mountain West conference in history. If Utah State has one weakness, it’s its three-point shooting, which ranks last in the Mountain West. However, that hasn’t been too much of a problem, with Mountain West player of the Year Great Osobor, averaging 18 points and 9 rebounds. Osobor is complemented by Ian Martinez and combo guard Darius Brown.

9) TCU Horned Frogs

21-12 Big 12 At-Large

For the third consecutive year, TCU has made the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history. Emmanuel Miller is the Horned Frogs’ best player, with 16 points per game, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists. TCU also boasts guards like Jameer Nelson Jr. and Micah Peavy, who lead the Horned Frogs to top 15 marks in the country in both steals and assists.

5) Gonzaga Bulldogs

25-7 WCC At-Large

At one point, Gonzaga looked like it may land on the bubble, risking missing the tournament for the first time in over a quarter-century. The Bulldogs finally got their first quad-1 win on February 10th against Kentucky. From that game at Rupp Arena, it seems like Mark Few finally got his team to turn around, with their only loss after that coming in the WCC Championship game. Like many Gonzaga teams before, this year’s Zags are great at scoring and rebounding, particularly from Graham Ike and Anton Watson.

12) McNeese State Cowboys

30-3 Southland Champions

A year ago, McNeese State was 11-23 and finished near the bottom of the Southland standings. They made a splash hire, bringing in former LSU Head Coach Will Wade. Despite missing the Cowboys’ first 10 games due to a suspension from his time at LSU, McNeese State dominated the entire season in the Southland. McNeese has lost only once since the end of November, led by leading scorer and stealer Shahada Wells and Christian Shumate, who is nearly averaging a double-double.

4)  Kansas Jayhawks

22-10 Big 12 At-Large

Death. Taxes. Bill Self leading Kansas to a high seed in the NCAA Tournament. However, it hasn’t been smooth sailing for the Jayhawks lately. Kansas is limping into the NCAA Tournament, having lost 4 of 5, including being trounced by non-tournament team Cincinnati in the first round of the Big 12 Tournament. The Jayhawks’ 2 leading scorers, Hunter Dickinson and Kevin McCullar, have both missed recent games due to injuries. Kansas hopes to have them back for the dance, but time will tell if they can get back to form in time.

13) Samford Bulldogs

29-5 SoCon Champions

Samford will make the tournament for the first time since 2000 and do so with an aggressive style of basketball. The Bulldogs are deep, with no player averaging more than 26 minutes per game. Samford ranks extremely high in points, 3pt%, and steals, and nobody exemplifies that more than their star Achor Achor. The Melbourne, Australia native leads Samford in points and rebounds per game as well as blocks, where he rejects almost 2 per contest. To beat Samford, teams must be focused for the complete 40 minutes.                                                                                                                                                                                 

6) South Carolina Gamecocks

26-7 SEC At-Large

South Carolina was picked to finish last in the SEC, but you’d never know it watching them all season. The Gamecocks started the season 21-3 and are very well-balanced scoring-wise, with five players averaging between 8 and 14 points per game. Collin Murray-Bowles has carried much of the rebounding load as of late, and South Carolina has several players who can shoot the three very well.

11) Oregon Ducks

23-11 Pac-12 Champions

The Ducks have been ravaged by injuries all season, and it looked like that would cost them an NCAA Tournament berth. But Oregon got healthy and hot at the right time, upsetting Arizona and Colorado to win the final Pac-12 men’s tournament. Oregon center N’Faly Dante was named Pac-12 Tournament Most Outstanding Player after shooting 12-12 from the field for 25 points and 9 rebounds in the championship game. Oregon’s opponents should also look out for Jermaine Couisnard and Jackson Shelstad.

3) Creighton Bluejays

23-9 Big East At-Large

Creighton’s biggest strength is undoubtedly its offense. Baylor Scheierman, Trey Alexander, and Ryan Kalkbrenner each average more than 17 points per game. When they don’t make shots, the Bluejays can also rebound, which is a category they led the Big East in. Creighton was also playing its best basketball of the season recently, having won 7 of 8, including crushing UConn before losing the Big East quarterfinal to Providence.

14) Akron Zips

24-10 MAC Champions

Akron led the MAC throughout most of the season but stumbled, losing three of their last four heading into the MAC tournament. The Zips were able to recover. Enrique Freeman, as he has been all season, was a force in the MAC tournament. Freeman averaged over 23 points and 10 rebounds in Akron’s three MAC tournament games. Freeman averaged a whopping 13 rebounds throughout the whole season, and he and Ali Ali form an impressive frontcourt.

7) Texas Longhorns

20-12 Big 12 At-Large

The Longhorns had a disappointing showing in the Big 12 tournament but will look to build on last year’s Elite 8 appearance in the dance. This year’s Texas team is led by Congo guard Max Abmas, who, of course, led a Cinderella run for Oral Roberts a few years ago. Dylan Disu and Dillon Mitchell are also great players for Texas who can both score and rebound. 

10) Colorado State Rams

24-10 Mountain West At-Large

Colorado State’s offense is best when it runs efficiently. The Rams are really good at finding the right shot, as evidenced by their high ranks in both field goal percentage and assists. The catalyst to this success is Isaiah Stevens, who leads Colorado State in both points and assists. Joel Scott and Nique Clifford lead the Rams in rebounds.

2) Tennessee Volunteers

24-8 SEC At-Large

Dalton Knecht is one of the best scorers in college basketball. The National Player of the Year Candidate eclipsed the 30-point mark seven times this season, leading the Volunteers to a regular-season SEC championship. Tennessee also led the SEC in steals, with Zakai Ziegler leading the way as the 2023-24 SEC Defensive Player of the Year.

15) Saint Peter’s Peacocks

19-13 MAAC Champions

Two years after making a miraculous Cinderella run to the Elite 8, the Peacocks are dancing (or strutting) once again. This has a different head coach, Bashir Mason, and different star players, but it is built very similarly to the 2021-22 squad. All 3 of St. Peter’s MAAC tournament wins came by 5 points or less, proving that St. Peter’s still knows how to win high-pressure games in March. They are led by Corey Washington, who scored 24 points, 9 rebounds, and 4 blocks in the MAAC championship game.


The Midwest Region may have more potential for chaos than any other region this year. Several teams, such as Samford, McNeese State, or Oregon, might possibly become Cinderella.

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