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NCAA tournament preview: Midwest Regional

NCAA tournament preview: Midwest Regional
Forward Dillon Brooks will try to lead the third-seeded Ducks to a deep run in the NCAA tournament. (Steve Dykes / Getty Images)

A look at the NCAA tournament's Midwest Regional:

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FRIDAY :: TULSA, OKLA.

1 Kansas (28-4, at-large)

vs. 16 Play-in winner

(See matchup below)

Never mind that Kansas lost its Big 12 Conference tournament opener. The Jayhawks are the second overall seed in the tournament and are contending for their first national title since 2008.

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8 Miami (21-11, at-large)

vs. 9 Michigan State (19-14, at-large)

Michigan State's first-round NCAA tournament exit as a No. 2 seed last season is still on the Spartans' minds, but this young team entered this season with much lower expectations and it's not safe to bet against Coach Tom Izzo in March.

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THURSDAY :: MILWAUKEE

5 Iowa State (23-10, at-large)

vs. 12 Nevada (28-6, Mountain West champion)

Iowa State won nine of its last 10 games, including an upset over West Virginia to win the Big 12 tournament. But Nevada, the Mountain West's regular-season and tournament champion, could produce one of the first tournament upsets.

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4 Purdue (25-7, at-large)

vs. 13 Vermont (29-5, American East champion)

Vermont won a program-record 29 games but must face Big Ten regular-season champion Purdue. The Boilermakers received a wake-up call in the Big Ten tournament, when they lost an opener to Michigan.

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FRIDAY :: SACRAMENTO

6 Creighton (25-9, at-large)

vs. 11 Rhode Island (24-9, Atlantic 10 champion)

Rhode Island made its first NCAA tournament since 1999 and could be catching Creighton at the right time. The Bluejays have lost eight of their last 15.

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3 Oregon (29-5, at-large)

vs. 14 Iona (22-12, Metro Atlantic champion)

Oregon won a share of the Pac-12 regular season title but enters the tournament without leading shot blocker Chris Boucher, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in the conference tournament.

FRIDAY :: INDIANAPOLIS

7 Michigan (24-11, Big Ten champion)

vs. 10 Oklahoma State (20-12, at-large)

Michigan is the hot team after winning four games in four days — including an overtime victory over Big Ten regular-season champion Purdue — to claim the conference tournament title.

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2 Louisville (24-8, at-large)

vs. 15 Jacksonville St. (20-14, Ohio Valley Champ)

First-year coach Ray Harper is taking Jacksonville State to its first NCAA tournament, but it likely will be a quick trip. The Gamecocks' 69.7 points per game ranks 259th in the nation.

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PLAY-IN GAME FOR NO. 16 :: WEDNESDAY :: DAYTON, OHIO

North Carolina Central (25-8, Mid-Eastern champions)

vs. UC Davis (22-12, Big West champions)

UC Davis is making its first appearance in the NCAA tournament and might get two games out of it, but almost certainly no more. A win over North Carolina Central pits them against Kansas, which is seeded second overall.

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Top seeds

[1 KANSAS]

This is the Jayhawks' second consecutive season, their 13th overall, as the No. 1 seed in a regional. Bill Self, coach at Kansas since 2003, is making his 19th consecutive NCAA tournament appearance.

[2 LOUISVILLE]

Coach Rick Pitino is making his 21st NCAA tournament appearance and finds his Cardinals in a loaded bottom half of the bracket. A first-round victory would likely earn the Cardinals a date against Big Ten tournament champion Michigan.

[3 OREGON]

The Ducks were top seeded in a regional last season and reportedly were in contention for another until they lost Chris Boucher to a season-ending knee injury and fell to Arizona in the Pac-12 tournament title game.

[4 PURDUE]

The committee rewarded the Boilermakers for winning the Big Ten regular-season title despite their loss to Michigan in a conference tournament quarterfinal. Two of Purdue's seven losses this season were to the Wolverines.

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Cinderella search

Iowa State's surprising run to the Big 12 tournament title landed them a tricky No. 5-vs.-No. 12 matchup that often results in a first-round tournament upset. But if the Cyclones can take care of Nevada, they could advance deep into the bracket.

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Top players

Dillon Brooks, forward, Oregon

The junior averaged 16.3 points per game and was voted Pac-12 player of the year after helping Oregon win a share of the Pac-12 regular-season title.

Jawun Evans, guard, Oklahoma State

The play-making sophomore averaged 19 points and dished for more than six assists per game. He scored 29 points in the Cowboys' loss to Iowa State in the Big 12 tournament title game.

Frank Mason III, guard, Kansas

The Big 12 named Mason the player of the year after he became the first player in the conference to average more than 20 points (20.8) and five assists (5.1) per game.

Donovan Mitchell, guard, Louisville

The sophomore is projected as a late first-round pick in the NBA draft after he averaged 15.7 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game.

Caleb Swanigan, forward, Purdue

The Big Ten named Swanigan the conference player of the year. The sophomore ranks second in the nation with 12.6 rebounds per game. He is projected as a late first-round pick in this year's NBA draft.

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Rim shots

• Michigan State forward Miles Bridges could be a one-and-done. The freshman is averaging 16.7 points and 8.3 rebounds per game and is projected as a lottery pick in this year's NBA draft.

• Oregon Coach Dana Altman could face his former team, Creighton, in the second round. Altman coached the Blue Jays for 16 seasons and became their winningest coach before he left for Oregon in 2010.

• Oklahoma State lost its first six Big 12 conference games before winning 10 of its final 14.

• Nevada is making its first NCAA tournament appearance since 2007.

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