March Madness Midwest Region Predictions & Picks

John Arlia
Last Updated: Mar 20, 2024

The 2024 NCAA Tournament bracket is set, and the Midwest Region has a handful of intriguing storylines.

Can top seeds Purdue and Tennessee overcome the mental hurdle of past disappointments? Can Saint Peter’s bring back the magic from its 2022 Elite 8 appearance in its return to the tourney?

Let’s dig into the latest Midwest Region winner odds, preview the bracket, and pick out some best bets.

March Madness Midwest Region Odds

College basketball odds used for this Midwest Region preview are from Monday, March 18, and courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook.

  • Purdue (+160)
  • Tennessee (+340)
  • Creighton (+450)
  • Gonzaga (+800)
  • Kansas (+1000)
  • Texas (+1600)
  • TCU (+2800)
  • South Carolina (+4000)
  • Oregon (+4500)
  • Utah State (+7000)
  • McNeese State (+7500)
  • Colorado State (+8000)
  • Virginia (+10000)
  • Samford (+15000)
  • Akron (+20000)
  • Montana State (+35000)
  • Grambling State (+40000)

March Madness Midwest Region No. 1 Seed


The Boilermakers are the No. 1 seed in the Midwest after winning the Big Ten regular-season title and posting a 29-4 record.

Big Ten Player of the Year Zach Edey (24.4 PPG, 11.7 RPG) is a handful in the post at 7-foot-4, and sophomore guard Braden Smith is a talented distributor (7.3 APG) and shooter (44.8% from three-point range).

Although Matt Painter’s squad has plenty of talent, it has a mental hurdle to overcome when it comes to playing in March.

Purdue became the second No. 1 seed to lose to a 16-seed last year, dropping its opening game to Fairleigh Dickinson. That result followed a Sweet 16 loss to 15-seed Saint Peter’s in 2022 and a first-round defeat to 13-seed North Texas in 2021.

While the Boilermakers’ recent NCAA Tournament history is a cause for concern, every tournament is different, and one deep run can change the program’s perception.

March Madness Midwest Region Cinderella Team

McNeese State

The Southland regular-season and tournament champs will be a popular Cinderella pick this year given their 30-3 record and a head coach in Will Wade, who has a history of leading talented programs (VCU & LSU) in the NCAA Tournament.

The Cowboys averaged just over 80 points per game for the campaign and have four double-digit scorers in Shahada Wells, Christian Shumate, Javohn Garcia, and DJ Richards Jr.

McNeese didn’t play a particularly tough schedule — it earned its lone Quad 1 victory at VCU and was 2-2 in Quad 2 contests — so the tournament will represent a significant step up in competition.

March Madness Midwest Region Prediction

Creighton to Win the Midwest (+450)

I can’t trust Purdue, and No. 2 seed Tennessee has had similar NCAA tournament struggles, failing to advance past the Sweet 16 in five trips under Rick Barnes.

That leads me to the third-seeded Creighton Bluejays, who nearly reached the Final Four last season, falling 57-56 to San Diego State.

Much of the same squad returns this year, including leading scorer Baylor Scheierman, 7-footer Ryan Kalkbrenner, and guard Trey Alexander.

The Bluejays play a high variance style that relies on three-point shooting — they attempted the eighth-most threes in the country this season (29.3 per game) — and have proven the ability to knock off top teams, splitting the two-game season series with UConn and Marquette in Big East play.

Given that potential upside, Creighton is a legitimate contender in the Midwest.

[pick id="178754"]

March Madness Midwest Region Best Bet

McNeese State to Reach Sweet 16 (+475)

Does McNeese’s weak strength of schedule scare me? A bit.

But the Cowboys managed a decent draw as a 12-seed, catching Gonzaga on a year it failed to win the WCC regular-season and tournament titles (both won by Saint Mary’s).

They are also in the same section of the draw as an injury-hit Kansas squad, paving the way for a potential Sweet 16 run. These odds are too tempting to pass up.

[pick id="178755"]

March Madness Midwest Region Locations & Schedule

Round 1

Thursday, March 21

PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh, PA

No. 3 Creighton vs No. 14 Akron, 1:30 p.m., TNT

No. 6 South Carolina vs No. 11 Oregon, 4 p.m., TNT

Spectrum Center, Charlotte, NC

No. 7 Texas vs No. 10 Virginia/Colorado State, 6:50 p.m., TNT

No. 2 Tennessee vs No. 15 Saint Peter’s, 9:20 p.m., TNT

Delta Center, Salt Lake City, UT

No. 5 Gonzaga vs No. 12 McNeese, 7:25 p.m., TBS

No. 4 Kansas vs No. 13 Samford, 9:55 p.m., TBS

Friday, March 22

Gainbridge Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN

No. 1 Purdue vs No. 16 Grambling/Montana State, 7:25 p.m., TBS

No. 8 Utah State vs No. 9 TCU, 9:55 p.m., TBS

Round 2

Saturday, March 23

PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh, PA

Creighton/Akron vs South Carolina/Oregon, Time & TV TBA

Spectrum Center, Charlotte, NC

Tennessee/Saint Peter’s vs Texas/Virginia/Colorado State, Time & TV TBA

Delta Center, Salt Lake City, UT

Kansas/Samford vs Gonzaga/McNeese, Time & TV TBA

Sunday, March 24

Gainbridge Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN

Purdue/Grambling/Montana State vs Utah State/TCU, Time & TV TBA

Sweet 16

Friday, March 29

Little Caesars Arena, Detroit, MI

Regional Semifinal No. 1, Time & TV TBA

Regional Semifinal No. 2, Time & TV TBA

Elite 8

Sunday, March 31

Little Caesars Arena, Detroit, MI

Regional Final Time & TV TBA


John Arlia

Before joining The Game Day, John served as the National Writer for the United Soccer League, where he primarily covered the USL Championship out of the league’s headquarters in Tampa, FL. A devout soccer fan, John attended the men’s World Cups in Brazil and Russia and can’t wait for the 2026 edition to come to North America. Having also written for Sporting News Canada since getting his master’s from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at ASU, John has acquired a diverse sporting background, but considers football, golf, and soccer his three strong suits.

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