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NCAA Tournament Midwest Region Preview Predictions & Futures

Written by: Richard Janvrin
Published March 16, 2023
20 min read

March Madness has officially begun, with the first-round games already done. We expect this to be one of the most exciting in recent memory, with a deep field filled with talented teams. While the Midwest bracket may receive as much hype as the others, it’s filled with great college basketball teams and had a tone of great games on Thursday. 

That’s why we did a deep dive into the region to determine the favorites, who has a shot, the dark horses we like, and the teams that will be home this weekend. We will also review key stats and players, giving you everything you need to nail your bracket. Let’s start by taking a look at the teams involved.

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NCAA Tournament Midwest Region Preview Prediction & Futures

The Favorites

Houston Cougars (+170 at DraftKings Sportsbook) 

6-2 against tournament teams

The Cougars survived a close scare from Northern Kentucky on Thursday but were able to pull away in the final minutes. It was a troubling performance, made worse by the fact that leading scorer Marcus Sasser was held out in the second half due to a groin injury. He picked up an injury in the conference tournament but re-aggravated it on Thursday. They will need him against an Auburn team that looked great in their first-round win. 

Strengths

  • Turnovers (9.9 TO/G - 14th in NCAA)

  • Opponent scoring (56.5 PPG - 2nd in NCAA)

  • Rebounding (38.8 RPG - 18th in NCAA)

  • Opponent field goal percentage (36.4% FG - 1st in NCAA)

  • Opponent's three-point percentage (27.8% 3PT - 2nd in NCAA)

Weaknesses

  • Three-point percentage (34.5% 3PT)

  • Free throw percentage (71.9%)

Key Players

  • Marcus Sasser (Questionable): 17.1 PPG / 1.7 SPG

  • Jarace Walker: 11.1 PPG / 6.6 RPG / 1.0 SPG / 1.0 BPG

  • J’Wan Roberts: 10.4 PPG / 7.8 RPG / 1.3 BPG

Texas Longhorns (+250 at DraftKings Sportsbook)

12-7 against tournament teams

The Longhorns cruised to a 20-point first-round win over Colgate on Thursday. They shot the ball as well as they have all season, making 53.4% from the field and 56.5% from three. That and their rebounding were able to make up for some turnover issues they encountered. Now they will face a Penn State team that is coming off a blowout upset of Texas A&M. Texas is by far more talented, but they’ll need to continue their stellar defensive play to cool down the red-hot Nittany Lions.

Strengths

  • Scoring (77.9 PPG)

  • Field goal percentage (46.8% FG)

  • Three-point percentage (33.9% 3PT)

  • Turnovers (11.7 TO/G)

  • Opponent scoring (67.4 PPG)

  • Steals (8.1 SPG)

  • Blocks (3.7 BPG)

Weaknesses

  • Rebounding (34.3 RPG)

  • Opponent three-point percentage (32.7% 3PT)

Key Players

  • Marcus Carr: 15.9 PPG / 4.1 APG / 1.8 SPG

  • Sir’Jabari Rice: 12.6 PPG / 3.6 RPG

  • Dylan Disu: 8.3 PPG / 4.2 RPG / 1.4 BPG

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In The Running

Xavier Musketeers (+800 at FanDuel Sportsbook)

8-6 against tournament teams

The Musketeers barely survived an upset scare from the Kennesaw State Owls on Friday, thanks to a missed shot with two seconds left. It was a troubling performance for a team many had liked to contend for the Midwest Region’s Final Four spot. The biggest reason for their struggle was their ice-cold three-point shooting. They were third in the country by making 39.5% of their attempts from three during the season but were 2-12 on Friday. They must get their shooting back on track as they meet a #11 Pitt team that destroyed #6 Iowa State on Friday.

Strengths

  • Scoring (81.4 PPG - 11th in NCAA)

  • Field goal percentage (49.4% - 6th in NCAA)

  • Three-point percentage (39.5% - 3rd in NCAA)

  • Assist (19.3 APG - 1st in NCAA)

Weaknesses

  • Opponent scoring (74.1 PPG)

  • Opponent field goal percentage (44.3%)

  • Opponent's three-point percentage (35.9%)

  • Turnovers (12.3 TO/G)

Key Players

  • Souley Boum: 16.5 PPG / 4.3 RPG / 4.4 APG / 1.0 SPG / 42.5% 3PT

  • Colby Jones: 15.2 PPG / 5.4 RPG / 4.3 APG / 1.4 SPG / 38.5% 3PT

  • Zach Freemantle: 15.2 PPG / 8.1 RPG / 58.5% FG

Indiana Hoosiers (+1000 at DraftKings Sportsbook)

10-10 against tournament teams

Indiana efficiently handled the Kent State Flashes in their first-round matchup on Friday, winning 71-60. It was an impressive performance by a Hoosiers team that has been inconsistent against a dangerous Kent State team. They won by making 46.8% of their shots from the field and 35.7% from three. One primary concern for Indiana was their ability to get defensive rebounds, as they allowed 19 offensive rebounds on Friday. Kent State’s poor shooting (31.9 FG%) failed to take advantage of those second chances, but a team like Miami will.

Strengths

  • Field goal percentage (48.9% - 10th in NCAA)

  • Three-point percentage (37.0%)

  • Assists (15.4 APG)

  • Blocks (4.9 BPG)

  • Opponent field goal percentage (40.9%)

Weaknesses

  • Opponent scoring (68.5 PPG)

  • Rebounding (35.8 RPG)

  • Turnovers (11.6 TO/G)

Key Players

  • Trayce Jackson-Davis: 20.89 PPG / 10.9 RPG / 4.1 APG / 2.7 BPG / 57.8% FG

  • Jalen Hood-Schifino: 13.5 PPG / 4.1 RPG / 3.7 APG

  • Miller Kopp: 7.9 PPG / 44.3% 3PT

Miami Hurricanes (+1400 at Caesars Sportsbook)

Miami barely survived their first-round matchup with the #12 Drake Bulldogs. The Hurricanes made 30.4% of their shots from the field, but their rebounding and defense allowed them to mount a comeback. The good news is that Norchad Omier, who was questionable, ended up starting and playing well. His health will be critical against an Indiana team that allowed 20 points to Drake’s star forward.

7-5 against tournament teams

Strengths

  • Scoring (79.4 PPG - 25th in NCAA)

  • Field goal percentage (48.6% - 14th in NCAA)

  • Three-point percentage (36.8%)

  • Free throw percentage (77.6%)

  • Assists (14.9 APG)

Weaknesses

  • Opponent scoring (72.1 PPG)

  • Opponent field goal percentage (45.0%)

  • Rebounding (34.6 RPG)

  • Turnovers (11.3 TO/G)

Key Players

  • Isaiah Wong: 16.2 PPG / 4.3 RPG / 1.4 SPG

  • Jordan Miller: 15.3 PPG / 6.2 RPG / 1.3 SPG

  • Norchad Omier (questionable): 13.6 PPG / 9.7 RPG / 1.0 SPG / 1.3 BPG

Check out the Best March Madness Betting Sites for the 2023 NCAA Tournament: Best March Madness Betting Sites & Sportsbook Apps 2023

The Longshot

Auburn Tigers (+1200 at DraftKings Sportsbook)

7-10 against tournament teams

With a massive win over Iowa and an injury to Houston’s top scorer, Aurburn’s path to a Final Four berth is suddenly much more realistic. They looked great against an Iowa team whose offense was among the best in the country. The Tigers won by outshooting the Hawkeyes, holding them to a 41.2% field goal percentage and 25.9% from three. Auburn’s ability to limit turnovers against an Iowa defense that thrives on steals was equally impressive. Auburn will face a more challenging test with Houston on Saturday, but their 17 games against tournament teams mean they won’t shy away from the challenge.

Strengths

  • Free throw percentage (75.9%)

  • Rebounding (36.8 RPG)

  • Opponent scoring (66.2 PPG)

  • Opponent field goal percentage (40.5%)

Weaknesses

  • Opponent three-point percentage (32.3%)

  • Assist (12.6 APG)

  • Turnovers (12.3 TO/G)

  • Field goal percentage (43.5%)

So You’re Saying There’s a Chance

#10 Penn State Nittany Lions (+1600 at DraftKings Sportsbook)

Penn State shocked most of the country by blowing out a Texas A&M team that had made the SEC Championship Final. They did so thanks to a career night from guard Andrew Funk, who went 8-10 from three for 27 points. It was a ridiculous performance boosted by the Aggies going a combined 10-34 from three. It’s impressive, but chances are they won’t make 59.1% of their threes against Texas on Saturday night. 

Strengths

  • Scoring (72.4 PPG)

  • Field goal percentage (46.5%)

  • Three-point shooting (39.0% - 6th in NCAA)

  • Turnovers (9.0 TO/G)

Weaknesses

  • Opponent scoring (68.1 PPG)

  • Opponent shooting percentage (42.7%)

  • Opponent three-point percentage (33.1%)

  • Steals (4.4 SPG)

  • Rebounding (32.6 RPG)

Key Players

  • Jalen Pickett: 17.9 PPG / 7.3 RPG / 6.7 APG / 51.1 FG%

  • Seth Lundy: 14.3 PPG / 6.2 RPG / 40.2 3P%

  • Andrew Funk: 12.5 PPG / 42.0 3P%

#11 Pittsburgh Panthers (+4000 at Caesars Sportsbook)

In their first-round game, Pitt trounced the #5 Iowa State Cyclones, winning 59-41. They had an awful shooting night against ISU’s great defense, but they could hold the Cyclones to their worst shooting night of the year. Iowa State only made 23.3% of their shot from the field and went 2-21 from three. While the Cyclones aren’t known for their shooting, it was an impressive performance from a Pitt team that is very well-balanced. Now they’ll have a chance for a Sweet 16 trip against a Miami team that barely survived Drake.

Strengths

  • Scoring (75.2 PPG)

  • Three-point percentage (36.1%)

  • Opponent three-point percentage (32.6%)

  • Opponent field goal percentage (41.9%)

Weaknesses

  • Field goal percentage (44.9%)

  • Steals (5.2 SPG)

Key Players

  • Jamarius Burton: 15.2 PPG / 4.7 RPG / 4.3 APG / 49.2 FG%

  • Blake Hinson: 15.2 PPG / 6.1 RPG / 38.1 3P%

  • Nelly Cummings: 11.2 PPG / 4.7 APG

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Need some betting advice or tips for the NCAA Tournament? How to Bet on March Madness: Ultimate Betting Strategy

Our Pick to Win the NCAA Tournament Midwest Regional

We still love the Longhorns to advance from the Midwest bracket. They have a favorable matchup with Penn State, and Xavier and Houston have not looked impressive. We love the balance Texas brings and their experience playing in the brutal Big 12. 

Best Odds Overview

  • Houston Cougars (+170 at FanDuel Sportsbook)
  • Texas Longhorns (+250 at DraftKings Sportsbook)
  • Xavier Musketeers (+800 at FanDuel Sportsbook)
  • Indiana Hoosiers (+1000 at DraftKings Sportsbook)
  • Miami Hurricanes (+1400 at Caesars Sportsbook)
  • Auburn Tigers (+1200 at DraftKings Sportsbook)
  • Penn State Nittany Lions (+1600 at DraftKings Sportsbook)
  • Pittsburgh Panthers (+4000 at Caesars Sportsbook)
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AUTHOR

Richard Janvrin

575 Articles

After graduating from the University of New Hampshire with a BA in Journalism, Richard Janvrin has been covering iGaming and sports betting since December 2018. Richard has covered betting at Bleacher Report, Gambling.com, The Game Day, Forbes, and more.

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