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March Madness Recap Ahead of the Final Four- Midwest Region

Midwest Region

Round of 64

1 Houston 63

16 N Kentucky 52

The Houston Cougars entered the tournament as a popular pick to win the whole thing. Kelvin Sampson has built a reputation for himself as a tough out in March, and he structures his teams around defence and rebounding. These teams rarely lose in upsets, so it wasn't a surprise that Houston took care of business in the first round. Northern Kentucky didn't even have the best record in the Horizon conference, so they're lucky to even be in the tournament. Nevertheless, the Cougars keep it rolling in this one; we'll see if they can keep that momentum going all the way home to the Final Four in Houston.

8 Iowa 75

9 Auburn 83

If this matchup happened in last year's tournament, there is no way it's in the first round. Auburn and Iowa are both in what their fans would call a down year, with the departures of Jabari Smith and Luka Garza in recent years. However, Auburn coach Bruce Pearl had his boys cooking on both ends of the floor, and in the end, it was too much for the Hawkeyes to handle. The Tigers shot 36 percent from three, and Johni Broome scored 19 points in the victory.

5 Miami 63

12 Drake 56

Miami is a sneaky pick for a late tournament run. They made the Elite Eight in last year’s tournament and have brought back the majority of the roster to this year’s. Jim Larranaga is one of the most experienced coaches in college basketball, and he'll be a significant factor when the Hurricanes run up against more talented teams in the future. In this one, however, Miami has no issues. Despite a brilliant performance from Darnell Brodie, Drake was no threat to pull off the upset. Miami is known as a team that can shoot the three ball, so although they only shot 33 percent against the Bulldogs, that will change.

4 Indiana 71

13 Kent State 60

College basketball historians still consider Indiana a blue blood, but they have much to prove to get back into that conversation for most fans. However, as a four seed, they are set up well to go on a run, especially with forwards Trayce Jackson-Davis and Race Thompson leading the attack. The duo had a combined 44 points in the opening matchup with Kent State, and the Hoosiers will need that type of performance every game if they want to make it out of the Midwest.

6 Iowa State 41

11 Pittsburgh 59

This game was destined to be a rock fight from the beginning. Two teams that have trouble scoring and thrive on the defensive end. If you’re a gambler, I hope you took the under. Iowa State scored a tournament low 18 points in the second half and shot an abysmal 23 percent from the field, allowing the Panthers to win an overall boring contest. Pittsburgh will not have it this easy in the next round, where they will take on Xavier for the right to go to the Sweet 16.

3 Xavier 72

14 Kennesaw St 67

Xavier is another program returning to their winning ways, going 27-9 leading up to the tournament. The Musketeers didn't shoot well on the night but dominated from the free-throw line, draining 22 to Kennesaw State's 8. That was the difference in the game, as the Owls couldn't keep Xavier off the line long enough to mount a comeback. Jerome Hunter had a game-high 24 points in the win and will hope to take that momentum into the next round against Pittsburgh.

7 Texas A&M 59

10 Penn State 76

Penn State is traditionally a football school, but don't tell their players that. They absolutely dominated the Aggies in this first-round matchup. The Nittany Lions went into halftime with a 38-22 lead and never looked back, cruising to a 17-point victory. Fan favourite Andrew Funk dropped 27 points and was red hot from three. He's a guy to watch in this tournament if Penn State makes a run.

2 Texas 81

15 Colgate 61

This may be Texas' best chance at a tournament run in years. The Longhorns enter the tournament as a two-seed, meaning their path to glory is much easier than usual. Sir’Jabari Rice has a name that commands respect with a game to match, and he put up 23 points in this 20-point blowout of the Colgate Raiders. Texas had some good and bad in this game, as they shot almost 55 percent from three but had 13 turnovers. However, that sloppiness will not fly against the competition they will be facing down the line.

Round of 32

1 Houston 81

9 Auburn 64

Houston did what Cougars do. They took a much younger and inexperienced club and showed them how it was done. Tramon Mark and Marcus Sasser led an excellent one-two punch from the backcourt, combining for 48 points. The big men did their jobs as well, racking up 45 rebounds and controlling the paint and the glass throughout. Houston has yet to be tested in the tournament, and one seeds are dropping like flies. We'll see how they hold up in a Sweet 16 matchup with Miami.

5 Miami 85

4 Indiana 69

Miami shows up big in March. The Hurricanes out-paced the Hoosiers in every aspect of the game and returned to their sharpshooting ways. When Miami is hitting the three, they are almost impossible to contain, and this game was evidence of that. But their work on the glass was most impressive, out-boarding Indiana 48-31, stifling any hope of second-chance opportunities at the rim. Miami is trying to make it back-to-back Elite Eights, and they have Houston standing in their way, a team they match up very well against.

11 Pittsburgh 73

3 Xavier 84

Xavier was in control of this entire matchup from start to finish. To begin with, the Musketeers out-classed the Panthers, who were one of the last four in the tournament. But, all things considered, this was to be expected, and Xavier will head to the Sweet 16 to play Texas. The Midwest is playing out pretty much as planned in an otherwise wild March, with the one, two, three, and five seeds all making the round of 16.

10 Penn State 66

2 Texas 71

Dylan Disu was an absolute beast from the opening tip-off against Penn State. He put up a double-double comprised of 28 points and ten rebounds on the night, leading his Longhorns to their first Sweet 16 since 2008. The Nittany Lions did keep it exciting, but it was a one-possession game with under two minutes left. But they could not stop Disu, and the Longhorns survived the late-game push.

Sweet 16

1 Houston 75

5 Miami 89

I said it before, Miami matches up really well against Houston. The Cougars like to control the pace, work the ball down low, and control the paint. The Hurricanes run and gun, have a high tempo, and love to shoot the three. If those shots are going down, they are hard to stop, and boy, were they going down in this one. Miami gained the lead early in the first half and didn't look back. They drained 11 three-point shots on just 25 attempts and were even more impressive in the mid-range, shooting at an over 50 percent clip. If Miami can continue playing as they did in this one, I'd put my money on the National Championship heading down to southern Florida. Isaiah Wong came alive for his team, showing signs of his memorable performances in last year's tournament. Jim Larranaga is back in the Elite Eight for the second year in a row, and he’s got the talent to go even further.

3 Xavier 71

2 Texas 83

Texas capped off the Sweet 16 in the Midwest Region with a pretty standard win. Both teams played well, but the Longhorns were simply the better team. The actual storyline for the game was the loss of Texas star Dylan Disu. He had injured his foot in their previous matchup with Penn State, and although he finished that game without issue, he could not be on the floor for more than two minutes in this one. The Longhorns will need him in the Elite Eight if they have any hope against a red-hot Miami. Tyrese Hunter and Marcus Carr picked up the slack for their fallen teammate, but Texas needs everyone going strong moving forward.

Elite 8

5 Miami 88

2 Texas 81

Well, Dylan Disu didn't suit up for this game. The star forward was a big reason Texas was even in a position to advance to the Final Four, but they would have to try to do it without him. In the first half, it looked like the Longhorns would be able to do it too, and they were leading by 10 with 10 minutes left in the game. That's when Miami turned it on. The Hurricanes went on a 15-4 run led by the clutch shooting of Isaiah Wong and took the lead before the five-minute mark. The next four minutes were back and forth, and the game was tied at 79 with a minute left. Two defensive stops by Miami put Texas in a hole, forcing them to foul, and the Hurricanes made all of their shots. The Longhorns' collapse allows Miami to advance to their first Final Four in program history. Three out of the four teams in this year's semi-finals are there for the first time, and the highest seed of any qualifier is the four-seed UCONN Huskies. Miami will meet those same Huskies in Houston on Saturday, April 1st, at 8:49 pm EST for the right to play in the National Championship game.

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