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Get To Know The Sweet 16 Teams: Midwest Region

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We’ll be doing these for all four regions going forward starting with the Sweet 16. We’ll take a look at the rotations, how the teams got to the second weekend and why they will or won’t win their respective regions. As we move on in the tournament we’ll go more in depth with scouting reports, etc. 

No. 1 Kansas Jayhawks
Record:
29-7
Rotation: Devonte Graham (6’2″), Svi Mykahiliuk (6’8″), Udoka Azubuike (7’0″), Lagerald Vick (6’5″), Malik Newman (6’3″), Marcus Garrett (6’5″), Mitch Lightfoot (6’8″), Silvio De Sousa (6’9″)
How They Got Here: Round 1 win over No. 16 Penn 76-60, Round of 32 win over No. 8 Seton Hall 83-79
Why They’ll Win The Region: You can talk about Devonte Graham has played his way to being a first team All-American and can just go win games. But, for me? It’s the development of Malik Newman. The former top-10 recruit has turned into the perfect sidekick for Graham. Take a look at the Seton Hall game. Graham struggled there, scoring just 8 points. Instead, Newman was able to take over the game and get 28. He’s done an excellent job of not forcing the issue, but attacking the rim. He’s also shooting 40% from three.
Why They Won’t Win The Region: The defense is still a huge question mark. It sounds like Azubuike won’t be on a minutes restriction going forward, which is huge for a team with minimal depth in the frontcourt, but they still struggle on the glass. We saw that rebounding issue come up against Seton Hall as Angel Delgado grabbed 23 rebounds, 9 of which were on the offensive glass. Are they going to be able to keep Marvin Bagley/Wendell Carter off the glass if they play Duke?

No. 2 Duke Blue Devils
Record:
28-7
Rotation: Marvin Bagley (6’11”), Grayson Allen (6’5″), Trevon Duval (6’3″), Wendell Carter (6’10”), Gary Trent (6’6″), Javin DeLaurier (6’10”), Alex O’Connell (6’6″), Marques Bolden (6’11”)
How They Got Here: 1st Round win over No. 15 Iona 89-67, Round of 32 win over No. 7 URI 87-62
Why They’ll Win The Region: Because Marvin Bagley is that damn good. It’s almost impossible to plan on how to completely stop Marvin Bagley as you can’t control how to keep him off the offensive glass. Throw in the fact that they moved Grayson Allen to the lead guard role and that’s been as important as the defensive switch to the 2-3 zone. Here’s the other thing. If you take away Bagley, Carter can still kill you. He’s quietly putting up double doubles as Bagley/Allen steal headlines. There’s just so much balance on this roster.
Why They Won’t Win The Region: Inconsistent guard play. While Allen has moved to the lead guard role, that still puts Duval in a weird spot. Moving him off the ball allows him to get some cuts going to catch the ball while moving and attack that way, but he still is a liability with his shooting. Teams will dare Duval to beat them shooting the ball and if he’s unable to get into the lane to break down the defense, is K willing to run O’Connell more minutes?

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No. 5 Clemson Tigers
Record:
25-9
Rotation: Marcquise Reed (6’3″), Elijah Thomas (6’9″), Gabe DeVoe (6’3″), Shelton Mitchell (6’3″), Aamir Sims (6’7″), Mark Donnal (6’9″), David Skara (6’8″), Clyde Trapp (6’4″)
How They got Here: 1st Round win over No. 12 New Mexico State 79-68, Round of 32 win over No. 4 Auburn 84-53
Why They’ll Win The Region: This defense is one that will just bust its ass and make you work. They rank 7th in AdjD and that’s with ranking 244th in turnover percentage. There’s a ton of discipline with that defense and that shows with the 36th ranking in FTA/FGA. They can ugly a game up and frustrate you into bad shots, which they then turn into open threes. That’s where Clemson excels offensively – from behind the arc.
Why They Won’t Win The Region: Are they going to be able to score with the remaining teams left? What happens if teams hit shots against them? They were able to blowout Auburn because of how well they played defense. We’ve seen them struggle to score and if DeVoe and Reed aren’t hitting shots, can someone else step up? Also, the Donte Grantham injury is still so huge for this team. He fit the role perfectly for this team.

No. 11 Syracuse Orange
Record:
23-13
Rotation:
Tyus Battle (6’6″), Frank Howard (6’5″), Oshae Brissett (6’8″), Marek Dolezaj (6’9″), Matthew Moyer (6’8″), Bourama Sidibe (6’10”), Paschal Chukwu (7’2″)
How They Got Here:
First Four win over Arizona State, 1st Round win over No. 6 TCU 57-52. Round of 32 win over No.3 Michigan State 55-53
Why They’ll Win The Region:
Because this tournament is drunk and Clem has all the good luck. I mean there’s absolutely no reason for Syracuse to be in this position, but here they are. They are playing that 2-3 zone perfectly right now and daring teams like Michigan State to beat them with Ben Carter in the high post. Tyus Battle does an excellent job of dictating tempo and if Syracuse can play games with 50-60 possessions it’s a win. 
Why They Won’t Win The Region:
For the same reasons I just listed. They will eventually play a team that can hit shots against the zone. Michigan State did have plenty of clean looks, they just missed. Will that happen in the next two games? The real problem here though is offensively. If Battle is struggling, who can step up for Cuse? Right now there are just three guys who can go get their own offensively and that’s Battle/Howard/Brissett. In order to get to the Final Four, they need a big game out of someone else.