NCAA Tournament Breakdowns - Midwest, Part 2

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Mar 19, 2013


Quick analysis of every team in the NCAA tournament so you'll know what you're doing.

2013 NCAA Basketball Tourney

Midwest - Bottom Half


By Phil Harrison
Follow me on Twitter @PhilHarrisonCFN

2013 NCAA Basketball Tournament Team Breakdowns
Play-In Games | South - Top Half | South - Bottom Half 
East - Top Half | East - Bottom Half
Midwest - Top Half | Midwest - Bottom Half
West - Top Half | West - Bottom Half

Yeah, yeah, yeah, we know, we're CollegeFOOTBALLNews.com, but like the rest of the world, we take a wee bit of a break for the first round of the NCAA college basketball tournament. Before you fill out your bracket - DON'T GUESS - check out the quick breakdown of each team with what you need to know to make an informed decision.

6. Memphis (30-4)
Here’s The Deal: Has any team flown under the radar more? In case you haven’t noticed, Memphis won the Conference USA tournament championship thanks to some dynamic athletes who can get up and down the court and make plays. The Tigers shoot the ball well, share the basketball and force bushels of turnovers – and they’re hitting their groove at just the right, winning 24 of their last 25. If they can hold onto the ball and not clunk away a close game at the free-throw line, there’s a chance they can get deep.
Player You Need To Care About: Junior guard Joe Jackson is the team’s most versatile player on the roster leading the team in scoring, but he probably should be shooting more, hitting over 52% percent of his shots and 47% percent of his three-point attempts. He also leads the team in assists and minutes, serving the role as the floor leader. If he can get a little more selfish and get even more involved, he could grow into a breakout star.
Really, How Deep Will The Run Be? They’ll blow by their first game without breathing hard, and then they’ll get bounced by Michigan State and its toughness and power.

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11. Middle Tennessee/St. Mary’s

3. Michigan State (25-8)
Here’s The Deal: We’ve seen this story before. The Spartans were a bit underappreciated coming into the season, but true to form, Tom Izzo has been able to get everything to come together with solid defense, great rebounding and the toughness that has become the staple of his program. A bit of an afterthought in the Big Ten behind the preseason hype machines of Indiana, Michigan and Ohio State, the Spartans found their way into the mix of the top teams as the season went on. It was thought that they lacked leadership with the graduation of Draymond Green, but point-guard Keith Appling has been the main man for an offense that will get up and down the court, but can slow down the music and play a half-court donnybrook if needed. Izzo’s teams have been known to play their best in March, and they have the talent and chemistry to be a Final Four contender yet again.
Player You Need To Care About: Appling is the spark plug who fires up the engine, but the emergence of fellow guard Gary Harris has made the Spartans truly dangerous. The freshman started out well as a key newcomer, turning into the second leading scorer, while his minutes and point production have been on the rise as the year has progressed. He’s a dangerous outside shooter, and having a viable option to go alongside Appling gives opposing teams more areas to worry about.
Really, How Deep Will The Run Be? This is the team no one wants to deal with. With a good backcourt and toughness up front, the Spartans are built for the tournament. They’ll get to the Sweet 16, power past Duke and then get outclassed against Louisville.

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14. Valparaiso (26-7)
Here’s The Deal: Valpo is in the tourney after winning the Horizon League tournament, and it wasn’t a case of going on a miracle run as they also won the regular-season crown. If the Crusaders want to make a run reminiscent of 1998, they’ll have to continue on their hot shooting streak. Whether it’s from deep or near the hoop, they can fill it up, but there’s cause for concern, averaging almost 15 turnovers a game. Crank up the competition, and there’s a good chance the mistakes increase and limit the effectiveness of the sharpshooters.
Player You Need To Care About: Senior forward Ryan Broekhoff is the marksman defenses need to keep close tabs on. The Australian is nailing 45% of his shots and 43% from three. At 6-7 he creates mismatches with his ability to knock down shots from anywhere on the floor, and he’s not afraid to get into the fray and fight for rebounds.
Really, How Deep Will The Run Be? One and done. There’s no holding up against the Michigan State interior.

7. Creighton (27-7)
Here’s The Deal: The Bluejays are back in the field winning both the Missouri Valley regular season and tournament championships, and they have the right makeup to make a little bit of noise. Absolutely lethal at shooting the ball, this is one of the better deep shooting teams in the tournament, able to bomb their way to wins scoring over 75 points a game by making almost nine threes a game hitting 42%. But this isn’t a one-trick pony, also taking advantage of teams trying to extend the perimeter defense and get to the lane off the dribble or make the extra pass for an even better look. But were the stats a product of a soft schedule? Yes, but the team can still shoot.
Player You Need To Care About: Junior forward Doug McDermott is a dangerous Player of the Year candidate, able to score from anywhere on the flow with tremendous range and good inside presence. Deadliest from the outside, he has launched over 140 threes and is one make shy of shooting over 50%, while his overall field-goal percentage is a blazing 57%. Defenses have to locate him and at least minimize the damage.
Really, How Deep Will The Run Be? If the shooting is hot early, getting by Cincinnati won’t be a problem, but to get past Duke it’ll take a shootout with everyone hitting at the right time.

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10. Cincinnati (22-11)
Here’s The Deal: The Bearcats didn’t start out with much fanfare, but started out white-hot winning their first 12 games to start the season. However, the lack of offensive firepower kept them from being consistent once Big East play started. The body of work gave the selection committee something to think about, but a .500 record with some decent wins in a traditionally tough conference was enough to get a ticket. Shooting isn’t the strength of this year’s team, but the defensive effort and work on the glass has kept games close against teams with more talent. Guarding the mediocre offense might be enough to spring an upset or two, but there will be huge problems against anyone who can fill it up. Cincinnati has to find some more scoring options once things get cooking, or go home early.
Player You Need To Care About: Junior guard Sean Kilpatrick is the scoring machine, but the heartbeat of the Bearcats is the other guard, senior Cashmere Wright. He only averages a little over 12 points per game, but his impact on a game is so much more as the team’s best defender - averaging almost two steals per game – while setting the table on the offensive end. He’ll look to get the ball to the right positions on the floor, but can also create on his own when chasing the shot-clock. Staying healthy has been a problem, but he’s been able to tough it out and now is at the top of his game on both ends of the floor.
Really, How Deep Will The Run Be? This is a tough team with decent potential to rise up for a game or two, but it’ll have too many problems against Creighton’s offensive firepower.

2. Duke (27-5)
Here’s The Deal: Not all that long ago, this seemed like the No. 1 overall team in the tournament. The Blue Devils might have been bounced early in the ACC Tournament, but as usual, they play great defense and spread the ball around the court between outside shooters and a solid presence on the inside. They can beat you in a variety of ways, especially now that they have forward Ryan Kelly back in the fold after injury, and with peerless coaching to go along with a chip on the team’s shoulder after getting the No. 2 seed, this is Duke at its most dangerous.
Player You Need To Care About: As always, there’s plenty of talent in Durham, but it’s Kelly who makes a good team great. The 6-11 senior forward is a matchup nightmare with great outside range and the size to score in the interior without a problem. Because of his height he can get shots off against anyone at anytime, and his absence earlier in the year showed as the offense lacked its expected versatility, able to stretch things out for center Mason Plumlee while taking the pressure off the guards. If Kelly is Kelly, and Duke is Duke, the city of Atlanta awaits.
Really, How Deep Will The Run Be? Everything will look right over the first few games, and then will come Michigan State. The Spartans will be too tough inside and sound in the backcourt.

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15. Albany (24-10)
Here’s The Deal: A 14-2 in conference Stony Brook team took the America East regular-season title, but Albany came up with the conference title to get the invite despite finishing just 9-7 in the regular season. The Great Danes are most comfortable when trying to set the pace in the sixties, loving to take the air out of the ball. The hope will be to shorten the game and try to scrap and claw through the whole thing and make a play or two at the end to spring an upset against a Duke team looking ahead.
Player You Need To Care About: The Danes prospects will rise and fall with how well senior guard Mike Black plays. He averages right around 15 points and can get his points from deep or going to the basket with dribble-drives. While he’s able to do a little bit of everything, the coaching staff needs him to score, score and score some more.
Really, How Deep Will The Run Be? Unless Duke’s head isn’t in the game, it’ll be a quick exit.

2013 NCAA Basketball Tournament Team Breakdowns
Play-In Games | South - Top Half | South - Bottom Half 
East - Top Half | East - Bottom Half
Midwest - Top Half | Midwest - Bottom Half
West - Top Half | West - Bottom Half