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2024 March Madness bracket: What to know about every team in the Midwest region

[Regional Breakdowns: East | South | Midwest | West]

With the field for the 2024 men’s NCAA tournament now official, we’re breaking down each team in the bracket in the lead-up to March Madness. Here’s what you need to know about the Midwest region.

1. Purdue (+600 to win national title)

  • 29-4, at-large

Purdue is hoping to do what Virginia did in 2019. A year after becoming the first No. 1 seed to lose to a No. 16 seed in the first round of the NCAA tournament, the Cavaliers won it all. Last year, Purdue became the second No. 1 seed to lose to a No. 16 when it fell to Fairleigh Dickinson.

Star center Zach Edey is again a Player of the Year favorite after averaging 24 points a game this season. He also averages nearly 12 rebounds a game. Sophomore guard Braden Smith escaped serious injury after he went down grabbing his right knee in the Big Ten tournament game. He dishes out over seven assists a game. Purdue shoots over 40% from behind the 3-point line and also has a dominant big man. It’s a recipe for March success. We’ll see if it comes together.

2. Tennessee (+1500)

  • 24-8, at-large

Dalton Knecht emerged as a star this season after transferring from Northern Colorado. Knecht has 21 points per game after averaging 20 a game in the Big Sky a season ago. Knecht is the only Vol who averages more than 10 shots a game and immediately became UT’s go-to player when the season began.

This is the ninth season for head coach Rick Barnes at Tennessee and while the Volunteers have racked up the regular-season wins in his tenure, they’re still looking for a deep tournament run. Tennessee hasn’t made an Elite Eight since the 2010 season when Bruce Pearl was the team’s coach. UT advanced to the Sweet 16 a season ago after falling on the first weekend of the tournament in each of the previous two seasons.

Dalton Knecht is averaging over 20 points a game this season as Tennessee looks to have a deep March Madness run this season. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Dalton Knecht is averaging over 20 points a game this season as Tennessee looks to have a deep March Madness run this season. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) (Andy Lyons via Getty Images)

3. Creighton (+3000)

  • 23-9, at-large

The Blue Jays boast three go-to scorers on an offense that’s one of the best in the country.

Baylor Scheierman leads the team with 18.4 points a game, while Trey Alexander averages 17.6 a game and center Ryan Kalkbrenner averages 17 a game.

Overall, Creighton shoots over 60% from inside the arc as a team and nearly 49% from the field. A hidden weapon for the Blue Jays may be their ability not to foul. Creighton ranks first in the country with 362 fouls committed all season.

4. Kansas (+4000)

  • 22-10, at-large

Yes, the Jayhawks are 40-1 long shots to win the NCAA tournament. That’s for good reason; this is a Kansas team that hasn’t looked capable of making a deep NCAA tournament run for a while now.

It all comes down to the health of Hunter Dickinson and Kevin McCullar for the Jayhawks. They both missed the Big 12 tournament — a one-and-done affair that was a blowout loss to Cincinnati — as Dickinson injured his shoulder against Houston in the regular-season finale and McCullar has been dealing with a knee injury. If KU’s two stars are healthy and effective, Kansas can make some noise in this region. Dickinson is very familiar with Edey from his time at Michigan.

WACO, TX - MARCH 2: Hunter Dickinson #1 of the Kansas Jayhawks reacts aft a slam dunk against the Baylor Bears in the first half at Foster Pavilion on March 2, 2024 in Waco, Texas. (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)
Hunter Dickinson suffered a shoulder injury in Kansas' regular-season finale. (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images) (Ron Jenkins via Getty Images)

5. Gonzaga (+6000)

  • 25-7, at-large

The Bulldogs were 11-5 after a loss to Santa Clara on Jan. 11. Since then, they ripped off a 14-2 run to end the season and get a solid seed in the NCAA tournament.

Gonzaga averages nearly 85 points per game and is led by Graham Ike and Anton Watson. Ike shoots over 60% from the field and Watson makes almost 58% of his attempts. The Zags aren’t a great 3-point shooting team, but make up for it with how effective they are close to the basket.

6. South Carolina (+10000)

  • 26-7, at-large

The Gamecocks made a huge leap from 2022-23 in head coach Lamont Paris’ second season in Columbia. After going 11-21 a season ago, South Carolina finished fifth in the SEC this season and improved in every metric.

South Carolina is led by Meechie Johnson and B.J. Mack and is a team that prefers to play slowly. The Gamecocks rank 354th out of 362 in KenPom’s adjusted tempo rankings. KenPom also thinks South Carolina has gotten lucky this season. Only Tarleton State has a higher luck rating — a metric that measures the deviation in a team’s actual winning percentage and its expected winning record.

7. Texas (+10000)

  • 20-12, at-large

Speaking of luck, the Longhorns can consider themselves lucky they scored a No. 7 seed on Sunday. Texas was underwhelming for most of the season and finished eighth in the Big 12 with a 9-9 conference record.

If you’re a casual college basketball fan who really pays attention only during March Madness, you’ll notice a familiar face with the Longhorns. Former Oral Roberts star Max Abmas is now at Texas. He’s the team’s leading scorer with 17 points per game.

8. Utah State (+12500)

  • 27-6, at-large

The Aggies are led by forward Great Osobor. The junior from England averages 18 points and 9.2 rebounds a game and leads Utah State in both categories. The Aggies are one of the best shooting teams in college basketball despite their poor 3-point shooting. Utah State shoots just 33% from deep but also takes just 19 3s a game as Osobor is the focus of its offense.

LOGAN, UT - JANUARY 30 : Great Osobor #1 of the Utah State Aggies drives past Christian Wise #20 of the San Jose State Spartans during the second half at the Dee Glen Spectrum on January 30, 2024 in Logan, Utah. (Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)
Great Osobor is Utah State's leading scorer. (Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images) (Chris Gardner via Getty Images)

9. TCU (+15000)

  • 21-12, at-large

The Horned Frogs have won their first game of the tournament in each of the past two seasons and have won at least 20 games in six of Jamie Dixon’s eight seasons in Fort Worth.

Senior forward Emanuel Miller averages 16 points a game and leads the team with six rebounds a contest. And if you want to feel really old, the team also boasts senior guard Jameer Nelson Jr. Yes, he’s the son of former St. Joseph’s and NBA guard Jameer Nelson.

10. Virginia (+25000)

  • 23-10, at-large

The Cavaliers were a somewhat surprising inclusion in the NCAA tournament field. Virginia finished third in the ACC this season but was just 2-7 in Quad 1 games. Fans of Big East teams like St. John’s and Seton Hall can argue their teams had a better résumé than the Cavaliers.

If Tuesday night’s play-in game against Colorado State is the first time you’ve watched Virginia all season, this team looks a lot like previous Virginia teams. The Cavaliers still play very slowly and pragmatically.

10. Colorado State (+25000)

  • 24-10, at-large

The Rams are one of six Mountain West teams in the tournament and snuck in as the bubble got squeezed during conference championship week. If you like experienced teams in March, then you should be intrigued by Colorado State’s roster. The Rams’ five leading scorers are all seniors. Isaiah Stevens averages over 16 points per game and Joel Scott shoots 63% from inside the arc.

11. Oregon (+25000)

  • 23-11, Pac-12 champion

The Ducks were one of the last bid stealers of conference championship week as they beat Colorado for the Pac-12 title on Saturday night. They’re also the highest-seeded conference tournament champ in this region; the 11 teams seeded ahead of them are all at-large bids.

Senior center N’Faly Dante leads the team with 16 points and nine rebounds a game as he shoots a remarkable 70% from the field.

12. McNeese State (+50000)

  • 30-3, Southland champion

Will Wade is back in the NCAA tournament. The former LSU head coach ousted as part of the FBI investigation into college basketball is now in charge at McNeese State. The Cowboys beat VCU, UAB and Michigan this season and lost just one game to a Southland opponent all season. Guard Shahada Wells averages 18 points a game and shoots 40% from behind the arc. The matchup with Gonzaga could be an offensive showcase.

McNeese State coach Will Wade watches the team's NCAA college basketball game against New Orleans in New Orleans, Wednesday, March 6, 2024. Wade was suspended for the first 10 games of the 2023–24 season by the NCAA but the team went to a 28-3 record and finished first in the Southland Conference. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton)
Will Wade's McNeese State has lost just three games all season. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

13. Samford (+100000)

  • 29-5, Southern champion

Samford is in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2000 and is set up to be a March darling if it can knock off Kansas. The Bulldogs shoot over 39% from behind the 3-point line and force 10 steals a game. Only four teams average more than Samford’s 86 points a game too.

14. Akron (+100000)

  • 24-10, MAC champion

Akron won the MAC tournament in stunning fashion after Kent State took the lead late before a player mistakenly committed a foul that led to game-winning free throws for the Zips. Enrique Freeman is a double-double machine with 18.6 points and 12.9 rebounds a game. He’ll have a tough test inside against Creighton’s Ryan Kalkbrenner.

15. Saint Peter’s (+200000)

  • 19-13, MAAC champion

The 2022 tournament darling is back in the field after taking down Fairfield for the MAAC title on Saturday. The Peacocks won their three MAAC tournament games by a combined nine points.

This year’s team looks a lot different than the one that captured hearts around the country two seasons ago. Sophomore Corey Washington is the team’s leading scorer and rebounder with 16.5 points and 6.6 boards per game.

16. Montana State (+200000)

  • 17-17, Big Sky champion

It’s the third consecutive tournament appearance for the Bobcats, though they’ll have to win a game to advance to the first round this time. That’s what happens when you go .500 in conference play before winning your conference tournament. Senior guard Robert Ford averages 16 points and over 7 rebounds a game.

16. Grambling (+200000)

  • 20-14, SWAC champion

Welcome to the Big Dance, Grambling. Good to see you. It’s the first tournament berth for the Tigers as they’ve won 20 games in back-to-back seasons for the first time. Thanks to a non-conference schedule that included a nine-game losing streak, Grambling has actually been outscored by its opponents this season. Leading scorer Dozier Kintavious averages 13 points in 27 minutes a game.