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Chris Dufresne’s NCAA Midwest Regional picks

Here’s how the Times’ college basketball writer sees the Midwest Regional playing out.

March 14, 2010

Midwest Regional

First round: Kansas def. Lehigh; Northern Iowa def. Nevada Las Vegas; Michigan State def. New Mexico State; Houston def. Maryland; San Diego State def. Tennessee; Georgetown def Ohio; Oklahoma State def. Georgia Tech; Ohio State def. UC Santa Barbara.

Second round: Kansas def. Northern Iowa; Michigan State def. Houston; Georgetown def. San Diego State; Ohio State def. Georgetown.

Semifinals: Kansas def. Michigan State; Ohio State def. Georgetown.

Final: Kansas def. Ohio State.

How it plays out: Kansas wasn't ready to defend its 2008 title last season when it lost in the Sweet 16 to Michigan State, which made it all the way to the title game in Detroit. But this Kansas squad, led by veterans Cole Aldrich and Sherron Collins, is clearly the class of the bracket. Guess what: The Jayhawks (we're saying) are going to get a payback chance when they meet Tom Izzo's Michigan State team in the Midwest Regional semifinals in St. Louis. The other side of the bracket appears headed for an Ohio State-Georgetown matchup, featuring two of the tournament's biggest stars in Evan Turner (Ohio State) and Greg Monroe (Georgetown). Of course, there will be other games played in the bracket. You want a No. 13 over No. 4 shocker? Try Houston over Maryland, just, well, because. We know No. 4 owns a huge advantage, historically, with a 79-21 first-round record. But we loved Houston's energy in its upset victory over Texas El Paso to win the Conference USA's automatic bid. We loved better the breathless announcer's final countdown call of the victory: "Houston, we have liftoff!" We're guessing he had that one written down, on an index card, ready for launch.

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