An old Cinderella in slippers (Loyola Chicago) vs. a new Cinderella in a plastic welder’s mask (Georgia Tech) colliding in the first round, and maybe Ayo Dosunmu vs. Cade Cunningham in the Sweet 16? Yes, please. And does the bottom of this Midwest Region bracket not look exactly like one in which a barely-in Syracuse somehow makes the Elite Eight? 

Whether it be the Orange or San Diego State, though, Bob Huggins and the West Virginia Mountaineers will have to earn their way out of the first weekend. Meanwhile, Kelvin Sampson and Houston, which nearly bounced Kentucky in the 2019 regional semifinals, would be a helluva final hurdle for top-seeded Illinois to get to the Final Four. 

This region, per Ken Pomeroy’s rankings, includes No. 3 Illinois, No. 6 Houston, No. 9 Loyola Chicago, No. 20 San Diego State, No. 27 West Virginia and No. 30 Oklahoma State. All things considered, a pretty reasonable path for the Big Ten tournament champ.

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