Kansas Jayhawks huddle in the last moments of the game against the Texas Tech Red Raiders at T-Mobile Center. Mandatory Credit: William Purnell-USA TODAY Sports.
Kansas Jayhawks huddle in the last moments of the game against the Texas Tech Red Raiders at T-Mobile Center. Mandatory Credit: William Purnell-USA TODAY Sports.

Midwest Region Preview: Betting Odds, Favorites, Sleepers and Best Bets for the 2022 NCAA Tournament

Not only are we lucky enough to get our first normal NCAA Tournament since 2019, but this year’s Big Dance figures to be as wide-open as ever. Bettors and college basketball fans are certainly in for a treat.

After breaking down the South Region first, it is time to preview the Midwest Region of the 2022 NCAA Tournament. What first-round upsets should be on your radar? Who will end up winning the Elite Eight in Chicago? 

Let’s dive into all that (and more) before the NCAA Tournament gets underway. And make sure to place all of your bets at WynnBET.

Bracket

  • No. 1 Kansas (SPREAD TBD) vs. No. 16 Texas Southern/Texas A&M-CC

  • No. 8 San Diego St. (-2.5) vs. No. 9 Creighton

  • No. 5 Iowa (-10.5) vs. No. 12 Richmond

  • No. 4 Providence (-2) vs. No. 13 South Dakota St.

  • No. 6 LSU (-4.5) vs. No. 11 Iowa State

  • No. 3 Wisconsin (-7.5) vs. No. 14 Colgate

  • No. 7 USC (-1.5) vs. No. 10 Miami

  • No. 2 Auburn (-16) vs. No. 15 Jacksonville St.

The Favorites

Kansas — As I do every time I write about Kansas, I must admit that I am a Jayhawk (graduated from KU back in 2017) for full transparency. That said, I think even unbiased fans can see why there is suddenly optimism about Bill Self’s squad entering the NCAA Tournament.

The Jayhawks, who are now +700 to win the 2022 men’s college basketball national championship, were priced at 15/1 in that same market before the bracket was released. KU absolutely got a favorable draw in the Midwest Region, and are coming off a very promising run through the Big 12 conference tourney. I have money on the Jayhawks to cut down the nets this year, and I promise that is not always the case.

Auburn — Coming in as the No. 2 seed in the Midwest Region, Auburn has a price of +1500 to win this year’s national title. The Tigers are an enigma, as they have plenty of firepower but have struggled away from home. This includes neutral-site games, which we saw on display when Auburn was bounced early in the SEC conference tourney.

But this team won a SEC regular-season crown for a reason. The Tigers are very good on the defensive end, leading the nation in block rate while ranking eighth in adjusted defensive efficiency via Kenpom. Talented freshman Jabari Smith, who will be a top selection in the upcoming NBA Draft, headlines this impressive roster under Bruce Pearl. This team has more than enough firepower to win this region.

Sleeper Team to Win the Region: Iowa

Few teams have as much momentum as the Iowa Hawkeyes after they won the Big Ten conference tourney. Iowa had to win four games in as many days, capped by a 75-66 victory over Purdue in the championship game. It is a stretch that made people believe that Fran McCaffery’s team is under-seeded as the No. 5 seed in this region.

As a Kansas fan, this is the one team that I would be a bit nervous about facing. So it only makes sense to pick them as the sleeper team to win the region. Iowa ranks second in the country in adjusted offensive efficiency, led by sophomore Keegan Murray and his offensive rating of 131.6, which is good for ninth in the country.

Nobody should be eager about facing a Hawkeyes squad that has won nine of their last 10 games.

First-round Upsets to Consider

South Dakota State over Providence — Honestly is this even an upset at this point? The seeding difference suggests that it is, as do the betting odds, but it feels like the whole world is on the Jackrabbits. South Dakota State has not lost since Dec. 15, and this is a team that should get plenty of open 3-pointers against Providence. The Friars, who have famously won a lot of close games this year, are long overdue for some regression.

Miami over USC — This figures to be a coin-flip game, with USC slightly favored entering the matchup. The Hurricanes are coming off a 80-76 loss to Duke, but do a great job of taking care of the ball and can hit their shots. I’ll just back the better offense in this 50-50 tilt.

Best Bets

South Dakota State (+2) vs. Providence — I got this at +2.5, but there is a reason why the Jackrabbits are this short of an underdog. South Dakota State can and very well might win this game. No team in the country has a better effective field goal percentage (or 3-point percentage) than South Dakota State. In the second game of the opening round, the Jackrabbits are here to put on a show and get March Madness started off in style.

San Diego State (-2.5) vs. Creighton — This figures to be a compelling matchup in the opening round, but one I do like San Diego State to win by a possession. The Aztecs rank second in the country in adjusted defensive efficiency, limiting opposing teams to a 43.1% clip on 2-point attempts. San Diego State’s only two losses since Feb. 5 have come against Boise State, and this Mountain West Conference runner-up shouldn’t be overlooked.

Regional Final Prediction: Kansas Over Auburn

Going with a chalky prediction for what feels like an underwhelming regional. 

Nobody seems to be high on Wisconsin or Providence relative to their seeding, so it feels like Iowa is our best hope of chaos occurring in the Midwest. But an Iowa-Kansas matchup is only possible in the Sweet 16, where I trust Bill Self to come up with a game plan to out-duel the Hawkeyes.

As for the bottom half of the bracket, I like buying low on this talented Auburn team. The Tigers will have the better defense and player (Jabari Smith) in nearly any possible matchup until at least the Elite Eight.

In the regional final, I am backing the Jayhawks to get the job done and reach their first Final Four since 2018. This is a team that appears to be rounding into form at the right time, and will be the betting favorite in every possible matchup of the Midwest Region.

Our NCAA Tournament cheat sheet

The Playbook is here to provide all the betting content you might need for the NCAA Tournament. We have published in-depth previews on all four regions of the bracket, best bets, and value articles for those wanting to place futures ahead of the Big Dance. 

Here’s a rundown of all that content — in case you missed any of it.

Our region previews:

Futures market

Best bets

Bracket

We will also have a betting preview for every matchup of the 68-team event, so make sure to stay tuned throughout the NCAA Tournament in order to make sure you are informed as a bettor.

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