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NCAA Bracket Predictions: Midwest Region

CHAPEL HILL, NORTH CAROLINA - MARCH 09: Coby White #2 of the North Carolina Tar Heels reacts after a play against the Duke Blue Devils during their game at Dean Smith Center on March 09, 2019 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

The NCAA men’s basketball tournament is perhaps the most thrilling, excruciating time on the sports calendar. It’s certainly the time college basketball is its most relevant nationally, and it brings out the expert in everyone as brackets everywhere are filled in and submitted with varying levels of confidence.

I watch maybe 12 minutes of college basketball per year, and convince myself come bracket time that I’ve got this thing nailed. I never do.

So what we’re going to do is pick games and then give some (likely wrong) rationale for each one. Sometimes there’s a real reason for the pick. Other times there’s not. We don’t recommend filling out a bracket based on these selections, but feel free to do so if you need someone to blame.

Here are our predictions for the East, the West and the South. Finally, the Midwest.

No. 1 North Carolina vs. No. 16 Iona

I will not make an Iona pun. I will not make an Iona pun. I will not make an Iona pun.

Pick: North Carolina

No. 8 Utah State vs. No. 9 Washington

It felt like every time Washington played a good team this year they got smacked. Meanwhile, Utah State has won 10 in a row and 17-of-18.

Pick: Utah State

No. 5 Auburn vs. No. 12 New Mexico State

Auburn shoots a ton of threes and they were really good in the SEC Championship game. That’s good enough for me.

Pick: Auburn

No. 4 Kansas vs. No. 13 Northeastern

Picking this one on name recognition!

Pick: Kansas

No. 6 Iowa State vs. No. 11 Ohio State

The Cyclones are the better team. They also have a way better mascot.

Pick: Iowa State

No. 3 Houston vs. No. 14 Georgia State

Houston shoots a lot of threes which is the best way to play basketball. They’re also good at it while giving up just 61 points-per-game.

Pick: Houston

No. 7 Wofford vs. No. 10 Seton Hall

If you told me this was an NIT matchup I would’ve believed you. Wofford’s mascot is a Boston Terrier, which is an A-plus dog. They get the nod.

Pick: Wofford

No. 2 Kentucky vs. No. 15 Abilene Christian 

Kentucky doesn’t have a surefire top-three NBA draft pick, yet they’re still a No. 2 seed. Maybe John Calipari isn’t so bad.

Pick: Kentucky

Round 2

No. 1 North Carolina vs. No. 8 Utah State

If North Carolina hadn’t played so well against Duke in the ACC tournament, this would be a fun upset pick.

Pick: North Carolina

No. 4 Kansas vs. No. 5 Auburn

Shoutout to Bruce Pearl. We’re riding Auburn’s 30 three-point attempts per game.

Pick: Auburn

No. 3 Houston vs. No. 6 Iowa State

Houston seems primed for a run. Three-point shooting and defense are something I’ll ride with all day.

Pick: Houston

No. 2 Kentucky vs. No. 7 Wofford

Despite the fact they’ll probably get beat, the Boston Terriers are still the better mascot here.

Pick: Kentucky

Sweet 16

No. 1 North Carolina vs. No. 5 Auburn

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Coby White’s sensational head of hair.

Pick: North Carolina 

No. 2 Kentucky vs. No. 3 Houston

Kentucky and Houston sounds like a Florida Georgia Line tour schedule.

Pick: Houston

Elite 8

No. 1 North Carolina vs. No. 3 Houston

Would it be tacky to make the Florida Georgia Line tour schedule joke again? Okay, fine. North Carolina might be the best team in the country.

Pick: North Carolina