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NCAA Tourney Men’s Midwest Regional Odds and Value Pick

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  • Where: .. Kansas City, Tulsa, Sacramento, Milwaukee, Indianapolis
  • When: March 15, 2017 6:40 pm EST
  • Moneyline: Kansas (+200) Louisville (+375) Oregon (+475) Purdue (+550) Iowa State (+800) Michigan (+1000) Oklahoma State (+2000) Creighton (+2800)

The Midwest regional is being called the “weakest” in the NCAA Tournament field by some pundits. But don’t tell that to the head coaches of the 17 teams, who are among some of the most decorated in the sport. Bill Self of Kansas, Louisville’s Rick Pitino and Tom Izzo of Michigan State each bear national championship rings and Pitino and Izzo have already have been enshrined in the Naismith Hall of Fame.

Regretfully, none of the above coaches are enjoying ideal scenarios going into the Big Dance.

Self’s #1-seeded Kansas Jayhawks, money-line favorites to win the region, have suffered from a lack of discipline which caused star freshman Josh Jackson to be suspended before the team’s downer loss to TCU in the Big 12 tourney. Pitino, meanwhile, watched his talented Cardinals lose to Duke in the ACC Tournament, and Izzo’s Spartans drew a monumentally difficult #9 seed in the NCAA Men’s bracket…placing Miami and Kansas in their way.

Will any of the legendary skippers right their ships? And if not, could there be a spoiler bid from Purdue or Iowa State? Read ahead for MSB’s preview and value-wager recommendation for a winning Final Four candidate out of the Midwest.

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The favorites

March Madness 2017 Midwest Regional BettingJackson is in hot water on and off campus after vandalizing the vehicle of a KU women’s basketball student-athlete. But when the coach was asked on Monday if the incident will ultimately cost the freshman playing time in the tournament, Self barked “hell, no.” Obviously, the general is in no mood to allow campus security and police protocol to interfere with the team’s title chances.

But the incident and its aftermath – culminating in the loss to TCU – casts doubt on the ‘Hawks status as favorites in the Midwest. Now is not the time for disharmony, especially between the two KU basketball teams.

Still, Kansas is a brawny, dangerous opponent for anyone in the bracket. The Jayhawks have gone 9–1 in games decided by three points or less and feature veteran guard Frank Mason, a national player-of-the-year candidate who will compliment the troubled Jackson’s scoring punch.

Louisville, in contrast, is a team that may not have the firepower to reach the Final Four, but are almost sure to reach the Sweet Sixteen. The Cardinals have drawn surprise-entry Jacksonville State (20-14) in the first round, which they will breeze through. Led by shooting guard Donovan Mitchell and stout defenders such as veteran 7-foot forward Anas Mahmoud, Louisville probably won’t be tested until the third round. But there is no escaping the fact that they have lost three of their last five contests.

Potential dark-horse picks (pretenders)

Oregon has experienced a rare 2016-17 athletic calendar in which the men’s basketball team has out-shined the storied football team. The Ducks have lost only five times on the season while playing in a major conference (the PAC-12) and recently posted an eight-game winning streak. But the team’s national-title hopes have probably quacked to a halt with exciting star Chris Boucher out for the tournament with an ACL tear.

Meanwhile, the Purdue Boilermakers could seem like a tasty pick to reach the Final Four at (+550) payout odds. Sophomore muscle-man forward Caleb Swanigan has been a sensation, averaging over 18 ppg and bullying opponents with his 6’9″ and 250 lb frame.

However, as the #4 seed in a supposedly “weak” quarter of the bracket, the Black and Gold are faced with a killer draw. To reach the Elite Eight, Purdue will have to subdue tough America East conference champ Vermont, beat Iowa State, and then beat Kansas. Their odds might promise $700 per Benjamin, but it’s a $700 you won’t get to cash in. Instead, look even further into the heartland to find the value underdog pick.

Michigan State will face Kansas in the second round, which will probably spell more disappointment for Izzo…assuming the Spartans even get that far.

Dark horse pick (the real thing)

Some analysts are predicting that Iowa State, facing talented first-round opponent Nevada in Milwaukee, will suffer an early exit from March Madness. Hardly. The Cyclones’ region-winner odds at (+800) are pretty standard for a #5 NCAA seed, but what is also an unfortunate standard (but good news for bettors looking for a windfall) involves teams being written off in mid-season.

ISU was a mess in December and January, losing to Iowa, Texas and Vanderbilt. But the ‘Clones turned their campaign around after that. Coach Steve Prohm’s boys have lost only once since February 7th, and won the Big 12 Tournament last week with a terrific win over West Virginia. Monte Morris, a quick senior guard, leads the team with 16+ points per game and is an above-average passer in the back court.

Morris’ fellow upperclassman Deonte Burton is officially listed as a guard, but crashes the boards as well as anyone and has collected 200+ rebounds on the year while shooting at a near-50% rate from the field.

Take the Iowa State Cyclones to reach the Final Four

Bet on Iowa State to win the Midwest Regional at BetOnline (+800).

Remember Al Unser Jr, the auto racer who won time after time by drafting and waiting for those ahead of him to crash? Iowa State has grooved a fast track to Big 12 glory and may just pass a group of crippled cars on their way to winning the Midwest region.

Kansas is embroiled in scandal. Louisville has been wildly inconsistent down the stretch. Oregon has lost its best athlete, and Purdue won’t be there in the end. The result? A talented, deep, hot ISU team has been granted a golden opportunity, and wagerers along with them.

Don’t take the highest seed or the most hyped program. Bet on the healthy, improving Cyclones to surprise, survive and advance to an April date in Phoenix.

Kurt BoyerThis article was written by Kurt Boyer

A freelance sportswriter from Missouri, Kurt has covered court, gridiron, rink and ring for 10+ years. He muses about High School football on social media as The Gridiron Geek.

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