Sick of hard-hitting analysis of the 2023 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 (mostly) 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.
Let’s see what Bracketville has in store for us in the Midwest Region......
GUTLESS WONDER Pick to Win The Region
You do a lot of things wrong when you’re making picks in a bracket. One of the easiest things to do, however, is make a Gutless Wonder pick when the #1 seed in the region is the #1 team in the NET, the #1 team on KenPom, and the #1 team in T-Rank. That’s the Houston Cougars. Should you be worried about star guard Marcus Sasser’s groin strain in the AAC semifinals that miiiiight have led them to taking their third loss of the season in the conference title game? Maybe, but he’s going to have a few days to heal up, and the Cougars are good enough to get through the opening weekend without him.
CHEX BOLD PARTY MIX Bold Pick To Win The Region
Can I interest you in a team with a pair of wins over a #1 seed in a different region and a win over the #3 seed in this region? If I can, then I have just brought your attention to #4 Indiana, as they swept Purdue this season and beat Xavier on the road, too. Trayce Jackson-Davis is one of the best big men and/or players in the country, and Jalen Hood-Schifino is a nice second option to have. If you’re wondering why they’re the #4 seed if they have those nice wins, well, the fact of the matter is that they also got swept by the #8 seed in this region AND the #10 seed, too. That’s Iowa and Penn State for those of you double checking at home, but hey, this is a BOLD pick, and we’re being bold by taking a team that’s got losses against teams in this very region, right?
CRUSH YOUR MAN Upset Special
You need a 5/12 upset somewhere on your bracket, and going with Drake over Miami isn’t too bad of an idea. The Canes ended up tied atop the standings in the ACC this season, so if it were any other year, you’d say “oh, wait, how is the co-champ of the ACC only a #5 seed?” Yeah, the ACC’s bad this year, and that’s how that happens. Not only is there a nice layer of suspicion as to how good Miami actually is, but Drake’s pretty good, maybe better than you’d expect a #12 to be relative to their #5. KenPom says Miami by just two points, and only gives the Hurricanes a 56% chance of victory. That’s a cointoss at worst, and if the MVC double champs get their top 50 defense cooking, they could sail into the second round.
Player I’d Pay To Watch
I can pick a guy I’ve already watched this season, just not in person at Fiserv, right? Tolu Smith has been crushing it all year for Mississippi State. They need their big man to do a whole hell of a lot, and his whole hell of a lot was good enough to get them into the First Four and thus just their second NCAA appearance since 2009. Smith has great touch around the rim, both when it comes to scoring and pulling it off the glass for a rebound, he swats a bunch of shots, and gets to the line constantly. Maybe that last part isn’t super great since he’s only a 59% shooter, but the foul trouble he creates for the other team makes him even more dangerous on the interior. They have to fend of the the Pittsburgh Fightin’ Greg Elliotts in Dayton to get to a first round game against #6 Iowa State, so we’ll see what happens.
The Chiropractor Special aka Who Can Put The Team On His Back?
You know all those “best point guard in the country” lists that we see Tyler Kolek continuing to pop up on here late in the season? Penn State’s Jalen Pickett is also on those lists. He’s also #8 in the country on KenPom’s Player of the Year rankings. He shoots it from outside, he scores inside the arc, he rebounds really well for a guard, oh, and he’s #3 in the country in assist rate and almost never turns the ball over. If the Nittany Lions are in the Sweet 16, going from #10 past #7 Texas A&M and (probably) past #2 Texas, then it’s because Pickett picked up the whole squad and moved them there.
Best Guy You’ve Never Heard Of
I’m choosing to highlight Kent State’s leading scorer here because of the obvious “leading scorer on a #13 seed” aspect, but also because he’s got one of the best names in the entire region if not the entire tournament. Ready?
Kent State’s leading scorer and assists leader is named:
The fact that he is good at basketball and might be the reason why Indiana goes out in the first round is almost just icing on the cake here.