Sick of hard-hitting analysis of the 2019 NCAA Tournament? Up to your eyeballs in expert picks chock-full of astute takes on players to watch and budding upsets?
Fear not, friends: your pals at Anonymous Eagle are here to inject some half-baked, homespun “insight” into the proceedings, with our annual region-by-region tour, as we go Anonymously Through the Brackets.
For each region, we’ll give you our patented Anonymous Eagle Half-Arsed Analysis with: a gutless pick to win the region; a sleeper regional champ; a CRUSH YOUR MAN upset special; a player/team we’d pay to watch; a player most likely to carry his team singlehandedly to the Sweet 16; and the best player in the region that you’ve never heard of before.
Without further ado, here’s Sam on the Midwest Region.......
It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Milwaukee finally isn’t frigid, all the snow is melting, the Marquette Golden Eagles are back in the Big Dance, and we get to get out of work to watch daytime college basketball. THIS. IS. *******. MARCH.
[Hits Jon Rothstein over the head with a heavy, blunt-ish, bat-like object]
Anyway, the Midwest region has a number of interesting storylines. A 5 seed SEC champion in Auburn who is peaking at just the right time. A 6 seed Big 12 Champion Iowa State who can beat anyone in the country if their offense is clicking (and can lose to anyone in the country if it isn’t). America’s darling mid-major Wofford, lead to an unheard-of 7 seed behind sharpshooter Fletcher Magee (41% on 322 attempts!) and Cameron Jackson. An intriguing 8-9 matchup between Utah State and Washington. The Houston revival behind a terrifying defense and Kelvin Sampson, whom I can only presume is exceptional at motivating his team through text messages.
Let’s be honest here. I think the two popular picks will be the favorites here, but outside of the West region, this is the one that has the most potential chaos. Houston has all of the potential in the world to make a run. So does Auburn. So does Iowa State. Wofford could surprise everyone and upend Kentucky (and the rest of the college basketball world in the process). Kansas, seemingly listless, could suddenly reassert themselves, especially if they can get to the Sweet 16 and play what amounts to home games in Kansas City.
GUTLESS WONDER Pick To Win The Region
Well, I feel like this is a coin flip between UNC and Kentucky. Both are good enough to win a national title. Both have star-studded rosters. Both have program history. Either way, you’re a cop if you pick one of them. (Full disclosure: in my bracket, I took Kentucky, therefore making me a cop.)
CHEX BOLD PARTY MIX Bold Pick To Win
If Wofford gets hot, there’s not a whole lot of teams that can outshoot them. You have to leave that possibility open. Don’t be too shocked if they do end up in the Elite 8 off of some whacky shooting numbers.
CRUSH YOUR MAN Upset Special
I think this region goes pretty chalk in the first round. But man, New Mexico State is on an 18 game winning streak, including going 15-1 in conference, has a neutral court loss to Kansas by only 3, owns 2 wins over Washington State, owns 2 wins over New Mexico, and owns 2 wins over Grand Canyon. That 5/12 game with Auburn could be very interesting, especially if Auburn is looking ahead to a looming Kansas.
Player I’d Pay To Watch
Man, where to start. Dedric Lawson, Coby White, Cam Johnson, Fletcher Magee, any of Iowa State’s scorers, the options are endless.
But I’m gonna have to go with Dedric Lawson, the All-American one man wrecking crew on Kansas. Let’s face it, I’m not sure there is a player more important to his team in this region than Lawson is to Kansas, especially at this point of this season. It’s not been the best of years for Bill Self and Co., but the prospect of making another Sweet Sixteen off the back of a Herculean Dedric Lawson effort sounds really, really, really fun. From there, anything is possible.
The Chiropractor Special aka: Who Can Put The Team On His Back?
Myles Powell on Seton Hall has been straight up balling on the court (and throwing elbows, and instigating fights, and shouting at head coaches of teams that you may be familiar with). This is a shoo-in. If he’s gonna go full Kemba Walker, this is the time to do it. He’s already done it once this season against Kentucky, and he’ll have to replicate that performance if Seton Hall wants to make the second weekend.
Best Guy You’ve Never Heard Of
Storm Murphy on Wofford. Their starting point guard, he has an ORtg of 128.3 (20th in the country per KenPom), an eFG% of 66.2 (18th in the country), True Shooting Percentage of 68.2% (13th in the country), 18.6% assist rate (top 500 in the country), and a three-point shooting percentage of 50.6% (3rd in the country).
Fletcher Magee gets all the credit he deserves, but Murphy is a great secondary or tertiary option to him and is just as lethal from the floor. Wofford might not beat high major teams with their defense, but their offense can run with just about anybody. Murphy is a key cog in that machine. Plus, c’mon: His name is Storm. How great is that?