NCAA Tournament Midwest Region First Round Preview

Pictured: Jaylen Nowell
Source: Jayne Kamin-Oncea / Getty Images North America

Take a look at the matchups set in the First Round Midwest Region.

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Huskies and Aggies set to face off in Columbus

One of the better No. 8 vs. No. 9 matchups will be played on Friday as the Washington Huskies and the Utah State Aggies are set to face off against each other. The Huskies (26-8) are coming off of a loss to Oregon in the championship game of the Pac-12 Tournament while the Aggies (28-6) won the Mountain West Tournament to extend their winning streak to 10 in a row.

Washington made it all the way to the final game of the Pac-12 Tournament but the Huskies have had their issues recently. They are just 4-3 over their last seven games with all of those wins coming by no more than five points. But Washington doesn’t lack for talent as the team features Pac-12 Player of the Year Jaylen Nowell as well as the league’s Defensive Player of the Year, Matisse Thybulle.

Meanwhile Utah State is in the midst of a 17-1 run that has the Aggies in the polls for the first time since the 2010-11 season. This also is the program’s first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2011.

Buckeyes take on the Big 12 Tournament champs in Tulsa

Two of college basketball’s premiere conferences will go head-to-head in the NCAA Tournament when the Big Ten’s Ohio State and Big 12’s Iowa State face off in the first round on Friday. While both teams haven’t been strangers to the Big Dance it’s been a few years since either has made a deep run. The Buckeyes (19-14) made it to the Elite Eight in 2013, were in the Final Four the year before that, and haven’t won a national title since back in 1960. The Cyclones (23-11) last made the Sweet 16 in 2016, the Elite Eight in 2000 but haven’t been to the Final Four since 1944.

Ohio State was the last of the eight Big Ten teams to get an invite to the Big Dance. The Buckeyes tied for eighth in the conference with a 8-12 record and after stumbling down the stretch (3-7 in their last 10), appeared headed for the NIT. But Chris Holtmann’s team’s total body of work, which includes wins over NCAA Tournament teams Cincinnati, Iowa, and Minnesota, was enough in the selection committee’s eyes. Another contributing factor to Ohio State’s late-season kid was the three-game suspension of Kaleb Wesson, the team’s leading scorer and rebounder.

Iowa State (23-11) won its way into the NCAA Tournament, taking the Big 12 Tournament title for the second time in three years to get the automatic bid. Steve Prohm’s team went 9-9 in the regular season, but took down higher seeds and fellow NCAA Tournament teams Baylor, Kansas State, and Kansas to cut down the nets in Kansas City. After a one-year absence, the Cyclones are back in the Big Dance and don’t want to be one and done.

Both of these teams have something to prove and the NCAA Tournament is the perfect stage to make that happen.

Pirates look to slow down the streaking Terriers

There probably isn’t a hotter team in the nation than Wofford heading into the NCAA Tournament. The Terriers own a 20-game winning streak and feature an offense that scores in bunches. Seton Hall gets the not-so-simple task of becoming the latest team to try and contain the Southern Conference champs.

Wofford earning a No. 7 seed is no fluke. The Terriers lost only to North Carolina, Kansas, Mississippi State, and Oklahoma during the regular season. They went unbeaten in conference play and have one of the nation’s best 3-point shooting teams.

Seton Hall teetered on the bubble with several bad losses before winning four of five and reaching the Big East Tournament championship game to nail down an at-large bid and a No. 10 seed. The Pirates are a strong defensive team, but also struggle on offense enough to cancel it out at times.

Seton Hall is seeking NCAA Tournament victories in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1993. A win for Wofford would be the school’s first in six NCAA Tournament appearances.

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