This article is part of our NCAA Tournament Preview series.
The Midwest Region is highlighted by Illinois – the top seed in the region and third overall team on the Selection Committee's seeding list. It's difficult to find many teams playing as well as them entering the NCAA Tournament, as the Fighting Illini have reeled off seven straight wins, including four against top-two seeds in Michigan, Iowa and Ohio State (twice). One team that can make a strong argument is the second seed in the region, Houston. Although it doesn't get near the same amount of attention playing in the American Athletic Conference, the Cougars have also won seven straight and defeated Cincinnati by 37 points in the AAC final.
Illinois and Houston are joined by a few other conference tournament champions among the middle seeds that will look to continue their momentum and create a Cinderella story to remember. One team that has done that before is No. 8 Loyola Chicago, and they'll look to see if they can relive old memories after rolling through the Missouri Valley Conference. Meanwhile, No. 12 Oregon State is one of the most unlikely teams to make the dance, having been picked to finish dead last in the Pac-12 preseason media poll. The Beavers pulled off three consecutive upsets in the conference tournament to make it in the dance for the first time since 2016.
Here's a closer look at the breakdown of players and matchups as we preview who is most likely to represent