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2013 NCAA Tournament: Midwest bracket

Best round of 64 matchup

If Middle Tennessee State beats St. Mary’s in the play-in game, it could give Memphis all it can handle. The Blue Raiders were ranked 15th in some computer rankings.

Best potential round of 32 matchup

Creighton has the ability to make a deep run and could knock out Duke in the second round after the Blue Devils were bounced by Lehigh in the first round last season.

Best cinderella hope

Fourth-seeded St. Louis will be an emotional favorite after coach Rick Majerus passed away earlier this season. Interim coach Jim Crews has done a great job with a veteran team that will be hard not to root for given Majerus’ popularity.

Player to watch

It will be hard to miss New Mexico State center Sim Bhullar, who might not be the best center in the ­nation, but at 7-5, 355 pounds, he’s the biggest player in college basketball.

Impact coach

Michigan State’s Tom Izzo has a 37-14 record in the NCAA tournament and a dangerous team. If Adreian Payne can continue his late-season tear and the Spartans can knock down some outside shots, Izzo could make his seventh Final Four appearance.

Prediction

Michigan State. After a rugged Big Ten season, Izzo said he is looking forward to the NCAA tournament. And with good reason.

- CAPSULES BY ASSOCIATED PRESS

1. Louisville

Record: 29-5.

Bid: Big East champ.

Coach: Rick Pitino.

The Cardinals were a preseason national title favorite and should be considered so now, especially after battling from 16 down with 151/2 minutes to go in Saturday’s conference title game to beat Syracuse for back-to-back Big East crowns.

2. Duke

Record: 27-5.

Bid: At large.

Coach: Mike Krzyzewski.

The Blue Devils built up their résumé in nonconference play, piling up wins against VCU, Louisville and Ohio State. The injury bug hit when forward Ryan Kelly (foot) missed 13 games. He returned, giving Duke its confidence back and adding versatility to its offense.

3. Michigan State

Record: 25-8.

Bid: At large.

Coach: Tom Izzo.

The Spartans are in for the 16th consecutive season under Izzo and have made the Elite Eight four of the last five seasons. Gary Harris was Big Ten freshman of the year, despite battling shoulder and back injuries, and Izzo said Harris might have sustained another shoulder injury Saturday.

4. Saint Louis

Record: 27-6.

Bid: Atlantic-10 champ.

Coach: Jim Crews.

Five players average at least nine points per game. The balance continues on the bench, led by Cody Ellis (10.1 ppg, 3.5 rpg), the A-10 sixth man of the year. After the passing of coach Rick Majerus, the Billikens lost only three games the rest of the regular season.

5. Oklahoma State

Record: 24-8.

Bid: At large.

Coach: Travis Ford.

The Cowboys, along with Kansas, led the conference in turnover margin with +2.5. Big 12 player of the year Marcus Smart needs nine steals to break the conference season record of 102. Sixth-man Phil Forte adds 10.4 points and shoots 90.5 percent from the free-throw line.

6. Memphis

Record: 30-4.

Bid: Conference-USA champ.

Coach: Josh Pastner.

The Tigers were unbeaten in C-USA play for the fourth time in seven seasons. Joe Jackson tops the team in scoring and assists and has vastly improved his three-point shooting. The Tigers also boast the league’s sixth man of the year in Chris Crawford.

7. Creighton

Record: 27-7.

Bid: Missouri ­Valley champ.

Coach: Greg McDermott.

Bluejays held off Wichita State for the conference regular-season and tournament titles. Have been nationally ranked for much of the season. National player of the year candidate Doug McDermott is among the top scorers in the country.

8. Colorado State

Record: 25-8.

Bid: At large.

Coach: Larry Eustachy.

The Rams are a rarity with five senior starters. The transition to first-year coach Eustachy went seamlessly. CSU’s success comes from its physical style, and it leads the nation in rebound margin. The Rams also have four starters averaging double figures.

9. Missouri

Record: 23-10.

Bid: At large.

Coach: Frank Haith.

The Tigers’ Achilles heel has been playing away from Columbia, with all seven of their SEC losses on the road. Phil Pressey has had another impressive season, ranking among the nation’s best in assists. Missouri hasn’t gotten past the second round since 2009.

10. Cincinnati

Record: 22-11.

Bid: At large.

Coach: Mick Cronin.

The Bearcats were ranked 7th nationally in blocked shots and 15th in rebound margin during the regular season. But they were one of the nation’s worst free-throw shooting teams (64.7 percent) and ranked among the worst 50 teams in field-goal percentage.

11. Middle Tennessee

Record: 28-5.

Bid: At large.

Coach: Kermit Davis.

The Blue Raiders’ win total and RPI were enough for bid.

11. St. Mary’s

Record: 27-6.

Bid: At large.

Coach: R. Bennett.

After an anxious week on the bubble, the Gaels have back-to-back NCAA bids.

12. Oregon

Record: 26-8.

Bid: Pac-12 champ.

Coach: Dana ­Altman.

The Ducks lost three of their ­final five regular-season games but won the Pac-12 tournament. Point guard Dominic Artis missed all of February with a foot injury and has been eased back. No Oregon player ranks among the Pac-12’s top 20 scorers.

13. New Mexico State

Record: 24-10.

Bid: WAC champ.

Coach: Marvin Menzies.

The Aggies’ repeat run through the WAC tournament was anything but smooth. NMSU made it through the weekend without senior forward Tyrone Watson. He had rejoined the team after a suspension stemming from an arrest, then sustained an ankle injury.

14. Valparaiso

Record: 26-7.

Bid: Horizon champ.

Coach: Bryce Drew.

Drew, the school’s career scoring and assists leader and author of one of the more famous shots in tournament history in 1998, has a group of accomplished shooters who set a school season record for wins. Ryan Broekhoff tops the team in scoring and rebounding.

15. Albany

Record: 24-10.

Bid: America East champ.

Coach: Will Brown.

The Great Danes set a school season record for wins away from home (11) by winning at Vermont to claim the conference bid. Guards Jacob Iati and Mike Black are the only double-figure scorers and account for three-fifths of all three-point attempts.

16. Liberty

Record: 15-20.

Bid: Big South champ.

Coach: Dale Layer.

Flames are just the second 20-loss team to make the tournament.

16. North Carolina A&T

Record: 19-16.

Bid: MEAC champ.

Coach: Cy ­Alexander.

The Aggies won four games in a row in the MEAC tournament.



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