2018 NCAA Tournament Bracket Breakdown: Kansas, Duke, Michigan State headline loaded Midwest Region

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The Midwest Region immediately became the most intriguing in the tournament when three of college basketball’s powerhouses — Kansas, Duke and Michigan State — were all placed there.

And what made it even more interesting is that the four, five and six seeds in that part of the bracket are just kind of whatever.

Auburn, Clemson and TCU were teams that I was always planning on picking to lose in the first round of the tournament before the brackets came out, and they all ended up in the same spot.

So we’ll see how that plays out.

But I will say this: I’m not sure that there will be a more expensive ticket for the second weekend of the tournament that for what it will cost you to get in the door in Omaha.

With Kansas and Michigan State drivable from campus and Duke fans spread throughout the entire country, it will be loud and crowded in the CenturyLink Center.


  1. How much attention is going to be paid to off-the-court issues?: This is the bracket of distraction. Michigan State was dealing with the fallout of the Outside The Lines report on sexual assaults within the athletic department before Yahoo’s report that Miles Bridges accepted impermissible benefits. Auburn has had two players miss the entire season and could lose head coach Bruce Pearl for their involvement in the FBI investigation. And if you talk to people in basketball circles, the most shocking thing about the FBI’s involvement in the sport is that Kansas has more or less been kept out of it. Throw in the presence of Trae Young, and you have to wonder what percentage of the conversation about this region is going to be about basketball?
  2. Duke solved their issues, can Michigan State?: Duke went to a zone to combat the problems that they had on the defensive end of the floor, and it changed them from a tantalizing team without any potential to quite possibly the best team in the country. The Spartans are just as tantalizing, and Tom Izzo has had two weeks to try and solve the problems that are inherent in his team.
  3. Is Udoka Azubuike healthy?: Kansas lacks depth in their front court already, and now the guy that’s taken over the roll of low-post hoss is dealing with a sprained MCL? Yikes. The good news is that Kansas can probably survive without him until the Elite 8. Rest up, big fella.

THE ELITE 8 MATCHUP IS … No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 2 Duke

The way this bracket broke for Kansas is nice. They’ll have some trouble with Seton Hall if that matchup comes to fruition because Seton Hall is tough and physical, especially in the paint, but I can’t see either Auburn or Clemson really challenging the Jayhawks in the Sweet 16. Michigan State-Duke in the Sweet 16 would be a terrific rematch of a game played earlier this season in the Champions Classic, but that matchup would not be in Michigan State’s favor this time around. They really don’t pass it well, especially their big men, and that’s the thing that you need to do to be able to break down that Blue Devil zone.


I’m sorry, but there just isn’t one in this region. I’m not picking a short-handed Auburn team with no size to make a run. I’m not picking a Clemson team that lacks high-end talent to make a run. I’m not picking TCU to beat Michigan State, then Duke, then Kansas. Do you think Trae Young can win four games in March? I don’t.

(Steve Dykes/Getty Images)


  • No. 12 New Mexico State over No. 5 Clemson: This is last year’s version of Middle Tennessee State vs. Minnesota. The Aggies have some high-major talent on the roster while Clemson lost Donte Grantham and just has not been impressive to me this season.
  • No. 13 Charleston over No. 4 Auburn: The way to beat Auburn is to overpower them in the paint, and Charleston does not have the bigs that can do that. They do, however, have a sensational back court in Grant Riller and Joe Chealey. I think Auburn can be beaten, and I think Charleston has the horses to out-Auburn Auburn.


I already have to pick one of Arizona State or Syracuse to win in the play-in game. I cannot imagine a scenario where I would pick one of those two teams to win two games in a row.


  • MARVIN BAGLEY III, Duke: Have you heard of him?
  • DEVONTE’ GRAHAM, Kansas: There is an argument to be made that he had a better season this season and was more important for this Kansas team than Frank Mason III was last year.
  • MILES BRIDGES, Michigan State: He was the preseason National Player of the Year, and while he has not quite lived up to the hype, the hype wasn’t necessarily warranted. He’s a very good year in his role.


  • ANGEL DELGADO, Seton Hall: If Seton Hall can get past N.C. State in the first round, I think they’ll have a chance against a depleted Kansas front line because Delgado is an absolute monster in the paint. If Azubuike is out he might grab 30 rebounds.
  • ZACH LOFTON, New Mexico State: Lofton has been to five schools since his freshman season as San Jacinto JC in 2012. He’s now in the NCAA tournament and averaging 19 points for the Aggies.


While NMSU is the most likely upset, I do think that Auburn-Charleston is going to be the most aesthetically-pleasing first round game in the Midwest.


We really need Duke to run the gauntlet here: No. 10 Oklahoma in the second round, No. 3 Michigan State in the Sweet 16 and No. 1 Kansas in the Elite 8. Make it happen, basketball gods.


Duke. For my money, the winner of a Final Four matchup between Villanova and Duke is going to win the national title.

Wake Forest guard Keyshawn Woods to transfer or go pro after graduation

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Wake Forest will be down a key player next season as the school announced that guard Keyshawn Woods will either transfer or go pro after graduation.

The 6-foot-3 Woods was the team’s second-leading scorer this season as he put up 11.9 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game. Woods shot 43 percent from the floor and 37 percent from three-point range for the 2017-18 campaign.

Also a key member of last season’s NCAA tournament team for the Demon Deacons, Woods transferred to Wake Forest after spending his first season at Charlotte.

“I appreciate the opportunity that Coach Manning gave me to be a part of this program and to graduate from this great university,” said Woods in the release. “I am proud that I was able to help the coaches change the culture of the program and build a foundation for the future.”

The loss of Woods won’t be easy for Wake Forest, but the team is scheduled to return some talented guards like Bryant Crawford and Brandon Childress next season. Incoming freshmen like Jaime Lewis and Sharone Wright Jr. are also signed to add to the perimeter depth.

David Padgett not retained as Louisville coach

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Louisville announced on Wednesday afternoon that interim head coach David Padgett would not be retained.

Padgett, who is 32 years old, stepped in and took the program over in the wake of a scandal that cost Hall of Fame head coach Rick Pitino his job.

“We all owe a great debt of gratitude to David for his leadership and poise this season,” said U of L Interim Director of Athletics Vince Tyra. “He took over during incredible circumstances, has handled himself respectfully throughout the season and I believe he has a bright future in coaching. We expect to determine a new head coach in a short period to build upon the great basketball tradition of this university.”

Pitino was fired because an FBI complaint contained an allegation that he and his staff had arranged for a $100,000 payment to be funneled to Brian Bowen from Adidas.

In his one season with the Cardinals, Padgett went 22-14 and reached the quarterfinals of the NIT.

Louisville will now conduct a search for their next head coach, and current Xavier coach Chris Mack has long been considered the favorite to take that job.

Kansas State’s injured star hoping to play Thursday

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One of the most surprising parts about Kansas State’s run to the Sweet 16 is that they have done it without the services of their leading scorer, Dean Wade.

Wade injured his foot prior to the Big 12 tournament loss to Kansas. He did not play in that game or in either of Kansas State’s first two tournament games, but it is looking more and more like he’ll be on the floor on Thursday night when they play Kentucky.

“I don’t play percentages very well, but I’m feeling good,” Wade said, via SEC Country. “I’m very positive about it. It’s getting better every day and today I felt great out there, doing a little more than usual. It felt good.”

Wade averaged 16.5 points per game, but the big question is going to be whether or not he is actually healthy when he takes the court. Just because he’s on the floor doesn’t mean he’s at 100 percent.

“Really just trying to get it out of my mind that it’s not hurt,” Wade said. “Just more of a mental thing, just getting out there and running around. I think I got moved past that and it’s feeling better.”

Arizona’s Sean Miller: ‘I am not a candidate’ at Pitt

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With speculation mounting about who Pitt will hire to replace Kevin Stallings as their new head coach, current Arizona head coach Sean Miller released a statement saying that he is not in the running to fill the opening.

“I am not a candidate for the University of Pittsburgh men’s basketball head coaching vacancy. I wish them well in their search for a new coach,” the statement read.

Miller is a native of Pittsburgh and an alumni of the school — he’s the guy that had the assist on Jerome Lane’s famous dunk — and with the issues that are currently swirling around him and the Arizona program, there was speculation that he was looking for an escape plan.

Maybe he wasn’t.

Maybe he was and the Pitt administration decided they couldn’t risk hiring someone who had an assistant coach arrested in the FBI’s sweep of college basketball and who himself may be on wiretaps talking about who knows what. Releasing this statement would then be a way for him to save face and say he was never interested.

And then maybe there’s option No. 3: Pitt has won the Dan Hurley sweepstakes.

As it stands, both the Panthers and UConn are in the process of chasing after the Rhode Island head coach, and it’s not uncommon in coaching searches for a coach to announce that he is not a candidate for the job after the job decides they want someone else. Call it a professional courtesy.

But that’s neither here nor there.

What we do know now is that Sean Miller will not be the next head coach at Pitt.

Report: Notre Dame’s Bonzie Colson suffers another fracture in foot

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Bonzie Colson rushed back from a broken foot to try and help his Notre Dame team get into the NCAA tournament this season.

They were bumped out of the field when Davidson upset Rhode Island and earned the Atlantic 10’s third bid to the league tournament. The Fighting Irish were NIT bound, and in their second round loss to Penn State late last week, Colson reinjured the left foot that held him out of action for eight weeks.

On Wednesday, Yahoo reported that Colson suffered another fracture in the foot.

“I’m sitting there and he’s limping off and I’m going, ‘You gotta be kidding me,’” coach Mike Brey said after the game. “Everything we’ve been through? I thought we were out of the woods with him.”

There was a poignant moment at the end of the game.

Colson’s injury came during the third quarter. He returned to the bench at Purcell Pavilion with ice on his foot after going into the locker room. With 30 seconds left and a loss imminent, Colson walked right past Mike Brey, said “I’m going in”, and finished his college career on the court.

Colson is a potential second round pick. He was an all-american last year and a preseason selection this year. He was averaging 19.7 points, 10.2 boards and 2.2 blocks when he was injured.