Observer Sports March Madness Bracket — Round of 64, Midwest Region
Observer Sports Staff | Thursday, March 26, 2020
With everyone wondering what may have happened in the 2020 NCAA Tournament, the Observer Sports Department has decided to throw our hat in the ring, as our staff has combined all of our picks to create a tournament bracket. Each day, we will release the results of a specific region. Today’s region is the Midwest Region, Round of 64. The games are below:
No. 1 Kansas def. No. 16 Siena, 94-63
This one isn’t close from the get-go. Kansas is the No. 1 overall seed, and Siena is regarded as one of the worst, if not the worst, teams in the field. Kansas goes up by 20 by the half and rests most of its starters for the final 10 minutes.
No. 9 Marquette def. No. 8 Houston, 76-75
This was a split vote among all writers who sent in their picks, but Marquette edges out Houston in a brutally tight first-round matchup. Since we can’t actually see a play-by-play, let’s have fun and say Markus Howard drained a 35-footer to give the Golden Eagles the victory.
No. 5 Auburn def. No. 12 Liberty, 79-74
Had this game actually happened, Liberty would have undoubtedly been a popular underdog pick, but we’ve got Auburn avoiding the popular 5 vs. 12 upset, albeit narrowly. Auburn leads virtually wire-to-wire, but Liberty never goes away. The Tigers escape and move to the Round of 32.
No. 4 Wisconsin def. No. 13 North Texas, 71-57
Wisconsin puts up a clean performance in this one, gradually and steadily pulling away from North Texas, a solid mid-major team. The Mean Green may be capable of a first-round upset against another opponent, but against the stiff defense of the Big 10 regular-season champions, they struggle to put up points, and Wisconsin handles their business.
No. 6 Iowa def. No. 11 Eastern Tennessee State, 80-71
If there’s one good recipe for avoiding an upset, it’s having the most dominant player on the court at all times. More often than not, Luka Garza of Iowa has been the most dominant player on the court, and he allows the Hawkeyes to defeat a gutsy Eastern Tennessee State squad by 9. Whether or not Garza got snubbed for AP Player of the Year is up for debate. Whether he is capable of putting Iowa on his back is not, as the Hawkeyes move to the Round of 32.
No. 3 Duke def. No. 14 Belmont, 91-70
Duke isn’t a 3-seed very often, and they don’t play like it here. The Blue Devils start slowly but get up by 10 at the half and bury Belmont at the beginning of the second half, cruising to the finish line and setting up an enticing second-round contest versus Iowa.
No. 10 Arizona State def. No. 7 Providence, 80-78
This region hasn’t been flush with upsets, but it also boasts a strong core of favorites. Providence is a somewhat weak 7-seed, so they become the first upset victim of our tournament, dropping a tight one to the Sun Devils. The game is a tug-of-war battle, with Providence trailing the whole time. The Friars’ game-tying shot hits the back rim and bounces out, giving Arizona State the win.
No. 2 Kentucky def. No. 15 North Dakota State, 81-69
Kentucky starts slowly (Remember, they did lose to Evansville.), and they only lead by 4 at halftime, but they pull away in the second half to crush the upset dreams of North Dakota State behind the gritty defense of Ashton Hagans and the play of junior big man Nick Richards.