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March Madness: A breakdown of Purdue and the Midwest Region from an odds perspective

March 19th, 2024

Twice in NCAA men’s basketball tournament history, a No. 1 seed has lost to a No. 16 seed in the first round. The first time, Virginia bounced back the next season to win the national title.

Purdue will try to follow the same path.

The Boilermakers suffered one of the biggest upsets in college basketball history last March, losing to No. 16 seed Fairleigh Dickinson. It was a brutal end to a season that had high hopes with national player of the year Zach Edey. Purdue was left still seeking its first Final Four appearance since 1980. They return for this NCAA tournament as a No. 1 seed again in the Midwest Region, just like Virginia the year after they lost in the first round as a top seed.

Yahoo Sports’ Frank Schwab and Scott Pianowski are going to break down each region from a betting and bracket perspective, using odds from BetMGM. Here’s a look at the Midwest Region:

Do you trust the favorite?

Frank Schwab: Ah, the Purdue conundrum. The Boilermakers have lost to No. 13, 15 and 16 seeds the past three NCAA tournaments. It’s hard to ignore that. But this Purdue team has an unstoppable force in Zach Edey and is also a great 3-point shooting team (40.8%, second in the nation). If you ignored the previous tournament disasters, there’s no reason to not trust Purdue to make the Final Four. But it’s a little scary given the ghosts of Fairleigh Dickinson.

Purdue Boilermakers Center Zach Edey (15) will try to lift his team to its first Final Four since 1980. (Photo by David Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Purdue Boilermakers Center Zach Edey (15) will try to lift his team to its first Final Four since 1980. (Photo by David Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Scott Pianowski: I trust Purdue about as much as I can a team with their recent history. They only played one bad game all year, the loss to Nebraska. Zach Edey is an unstoppable interior star surrounded by distance shooters; this is the blueprint every offense wants to copy.

Which non-No. 1 seed could make a run?

FS: Creighton was a tough foul call against San Diego State in the Elite Eight last year from going to the Final Four. Just because Creighton hasn’t been to the Final Four doesn’t mean they can’t do it. It’s a balanced team with a lot of scoring options, good size (could be useful if the Bluejays meet Purdue) and some quality wins including a 19-point victory over UConn. Maybe the Bluejays take the next step this year.

SP: Tennessee is just another Purdue type of team in different uniforms. Rick Barnes hates March more than my season allergies do. But the Volunteers take care of the ball, make their free throws, defend for 40 minutes, and have high-echelon talent. One of the top two seeds is exorcizing ghosts this weekend. Of course given my history with Barnes, I have to side with Purdue.

First-round game to watch

FS: Gonzaga vs. McNeese State is a fun No. 5 vs. No. 12 matchup. McNeese went 30-3 and ran through the Southland Conference. They have a good coach in Will Wade, who would still be in the SEC if he didn’t get in trouble with the rules at LSU. The problem with the Cowboys is they haven’t really played any elite competition. Gonzaga was good late in the season and is a 6.5-point favorite in the first round. McNeese will be a popular No. 12 seed upset pick, but don’t overlook Gonzaga.

SP: I’m with you on the McNeese love. I also give Samford a reasonable chance to beat a Kansas team that’s banged up and in the middle of a 9-9 funk. Samford is an outstanding 3-point shooting team, the simplest path for a lesser squad to take down a blueblood.

Which long shot is being overlooked?

FS: Colorado State was really good early in the season. They have a heck of a senior guard in Isaiah Stevens. The Rams took on some losses in conference play, but the Mountain West was deep and tough. They might be happy to be out of league play. Colorado State got a No. 10 seed and will be in the First Four, but that isn’t a problem. Since the First Four began in 2011, the only time a First Four team hasn’t also won a round of 64 game was in 2019. Colorado State could win a couple games and maybe give Tennessee a run in the second round.

SP: It’s probably cheating to say Oregon is being overlooked, as the No. 11 Ducks are a small underdog against South Carolina. I just wanted a window to share some Pac-12 love before the conference dissolves. Dana Altman doesn’t lose first-round games, and the Oregon story could simply be a slow-developing Polaroid. With interior monster N’Faly Dante healthy again, Oregon is a completely different team.

This content was originally sourced and posted at Yahoo! Sports – News, Scores, Standings, Rumors, Fantasy Games »
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