The final bracket is out, and the Michigan Wolverines were declared a two seed in the Midwest region. Michigan faces the 15 seed Wofford in their opening game, which will be played in Milwaukee. The region features three of last year’s Final Four teams, with only Syracuse falling to another bracket.
The top seed in Michigan’s region is the Wichita State Shockers, who just wrapped up an undefeated regular season. There has been a lot of debate about the Shockers, and people are interested to see how they stack up against tougher competition. They only played two NCAA tournament teams during the regular season. The Shockers will face the winner of Texas Southern and Cal Poly. Texas Southern is from Southwestern Athletic Conference and have a 19-14 record, while Cal Poly sits below .500, with a 13-19 record in the Big West.
Michigan would have likely gotten the final 1 seed if they had beaten Michigan State in the Big Ten Tournament title game, but the Wolverines were completely outplayed by the Spartans. The Cavaliers of Virginia would take that final spot, as they had won both the regular season title as well as the conference tournament. Michigan will look to get their offense back on track, as well as shoring up their rebounding effort, after the pre-tournament wake up call from Michigan State. Their opponent won’t be as tough as the Spartans, however. Wofford is a 20-12 team from the Southern Conference, and the two teams have a common Big Ten opponent in Minnesota. The Terriers lost to the Golden Gophers by 20, while Michigan beat Minnesota twice.
The 3 seed is the Duke Blue Devils, who Michigan lost to earlier in the year. This was at Cameron Indoor Stadium, and Michigan folded under the pressure of a tough home crowd. The Wolverines were still finding their identity at this point, and this game featured the breakout of Caris LeVert. Duke only has a few bad losses on their resume, and aside from Notre Dame and Clemson, they only lost to ranked teams. Michigan and Duke share a common opponent, as both lost to 1 seed Arizona in close games. The Blue Devils take on the Mercer Bears, a mid major from the Atlantic Sun Conference. Mercer played a couple of close games against tournament teams Texas and Oklahoma, losing both.
The fourth seed was surprising to many analysts, as some thought last year’s champions could have gotten a 2 or a 3 seed. The Louisville Cardinals have been on a roll lately, and they shared the newly formed American Athletic Conference’s regular season title with Cincinnati. The Cardinals won their conference tournament and are on a five game winning streak. They face the 13 seeded Manhattan Jaspers, the winners of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament. The Jaspers are largely untested, as they did not face any tournament teams during the regular season.
The rest of the seeds are as follows: the 5 seed is the Saint Louis Billikens from the Atlantic 10 Conference, the 6 seed is the Massachusetts Minutemen (also from the Atlantic 10), the 7 seed is the Texas Longhorns from the Big 12, the 8 seed is the University of Kentucky Wildcats from the SEC, the 9 seed is the Big 12’s Kansas State Wildcats, and the 10 seed is the Arizona State Sun Devils of the Pacific-12. The 11 seed will either be the Big Ten’s own Iowa Hawkeyes or the Southeastern Conference’s Tennessee Volunteers. The 12 seed will either be North Carolina State Wolfpack of the Atlantic Coast Conference or the Xavier Musketeers of the Big East.
The Midwest looks to be the toughest region by far, and it is going to be a tough road for the Final Four. To make it to Dallas, Michigan is going to need torevert back to their efficient offensive ways. The Wolverines should be able to dispatch Wofford fairly easily, and both the Longhorns and Sun Devils haven’t been playing well as of late. The Sweet Sixteen is where it could difficult, as Duke is another one of the country’s best offenses. If Michigan wins the rematch with the Blue Devils, they would advance to the Elite Eight. On the other side of the bracket, it looks like it will be a dogfight between Louisville and Wichita State. The Cardinals defeated the Shockers in the Final Four last year in a game that was close until the final seconds. Michigan would probably prefer to face Wichita State, though revenge against Louisville is probably on everyone’s minds.
The Wolverines will play their first game Thursday, with the time to be decided. The game will air on the one of the CBS-affiliated channels.
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