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March Madness Betting: Top Players To Watch In Midwest Region

College Basketball Betting

The 2020-2021 college basketball season has dispensed with the preliminaries. It’s time for the main event: the NCAA Tournament. In the Midwest Region, where Illinois is the No. 1 seed, which players are worth keeping tabs on during March Madness? This is not an exhaustive list, since it doesn’t cover all 16 teams in the region, but it highlights the very best of the best and gives you a sense of the players who could carry a team to the Sweet 16 if not the Final Four.

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Ayo Dosunmu of the Illinois Fighting Illini handles the ball under pressure from Aaron Henry of the Michigan State Spartans
Rey Del Rio/Getty Images/AFP

Ayo Dosunmu, Illinois Fighting Illini

The national player of the year in college basketball is likely to be Luka Garza of Iowa. Some people would say it is Corey Kispert of Gonzaga. However, there are some people in the crowd who would tell you that Dosunmu is the actual player of the year. He has a sixth sense on the court with great floor vision. Not only is he able to get the ball to teammate Kofi Cockburn in the right spot on the court, but he is able to make the pass so that Cockburn doesn’t have to bend down or stretch for it. Cockburn can make a relatively easy uncontested catch and immediately dunk the ball or lay it in.

The precision passing of Dosunmu is special, but he also has a quality jump shot, great defensive quickness, and a knack for making the big play in crunch time. He has a complete game which is hard for opponents to pick apart, and that is a big reason why Illinois has developed into a No. 1 seed over the course of the season, turning into one of the favorites to make the Final Four and mount a real run at the brass ring in early April.

Kofi Cockburn, Illinois Fighting Illini

The big man is Dosunmu’s teammate on the Illinois roster. If there is a college equivalent of Shaquille O’Neal from past decades, this is it. Luka Garza, as mentioned above, is a candidate for national player of the year in college basketball. Garza is 6-11 and over 240 pounds. Garza is a big man who is muscular and agile. Kofi Cockburn makes Garza look very small on the court. Cockburn dominated Garza this past Saturday in the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament, as Illinois beat Iowa 82-71 and moved forward in the bracket en route to the Big Ten Tournament championship, which it won on Sunday against Ohio State.

The only real weakness of Cockburn’s game is his free throw shooting. He is shooting just under 55 percent for the season and will be hacked a lot by opponents late in close games. If he can nudge his foul shooting up to 65 percent for the NCAA Tournament, that will make Illinois a lot tougher to beat.

Cockburn and Dosunmu are the main reason the Illini are +115 favorites to win the Midwest.

DeJon Jarreau, Houston Cougars

The terrific scorer for the second seed in the Midwest Region recently notched a triple-double in the AAC Tournament. Jarreau also plays great defense as part of Houston’s feisty and tenacious group under head coach Kelvin Sampson. This is the player Houston will look to late in games for clutch baskets. If Jarreau has a great NCAA Tournament, chances are the Cougars will at least make the Elite Eight. They could meet Dosunmu and Illinois for a chance to make the Final Four.

Miles McBride, West Virginia Mountaineers

The West Virginia Mountaineers have usually been a defense-first, offense-second team under head coach Bob Huggins, but in this particular season, they have been much more potent on offense and ordinary on defense. It has been a case of role reversal for the Mountaineers, and when they look for offense, the first player they normally turn to is McBride, who has a lethal first step-dribble combination and is great at getting into the paint to cause defenses to collapse, setting up passes to teammates for high-quality shots. If defenses lay off McBride and try to shut off the dribble drive, he is more than capable of knocking down a 3-point shot. He will be a load for any team to deal with in March Madness.

Derek Culver, West Virginia Mountaineers

The West Virginia offense is mostly perimeter-based, but it wouldn’t function nearly as well without the complementary presence of Culver, an agile big man who operates inside and demands attention from opposing defenses. If teams extend on the perimeter to take away McBride and the other 3-point shooters West Virginia has on its roster, the Mountaineers’ guards can make a clean and relatively easy entry pass to Culver in the low post. He can operate one-on-one against his defender without the threat of a double-team. He can go to work and give WVU some points in the paint to accompany the team’s outside shooting. This is part of why the Mountaineers have developed such a potent offense and have given themselves a No. 3 seed and a chance to make the Final Four for the first time since the 2010 season.

Cade Cunningham, Oklahoma State Cowboys

The best player in the entire NCAA Tournament could be Cade Cunningham. It is already known that Cunningham will be the No. 1 pick in the upcoming NBA draft, beating out USC big man Evan Mobley. Cunningham simply does it all with the ball. He shoots, he drives, he passes, he sees the floor, he scores in traffic after absorbing contact, he raises his game in crunch time, he hits free throws.

There is very little Cade Cunningham can’t do. He is a silky-smooth player who exhibits total command of the chaos and tumult surrounding him. He has been on fire as a shooter and as a late-game scorer the past four weeks. Accordingly, Oklahoma State has become a top contender in the NCAA Tournament. The Cowboys could knock off top-seeded Illinois in a possible Sweet 16 game. It’s all because of Cunningham, who will soon make an NBA team very happy.

Cameron Krutwig, Loyola-Chicago Ramblers

The beefy big man was a freshman on Loyola-Chicago’s roster in 2018 when the Ramblers, as a No. 11 seed, made a Cinderella run to the Final Four. Now he is a seasoned upperclassman who continues to outfox opponents. He isn’t fast, but he is agile and effective, and his width makes it very hard for opposing defenders to deny him the ball or block his shots. Krutwig will make Loyola a tough out in this tournament.

Moses Wright, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

The big frontcourt star for Georgia Tech will have a battle royale against Krutwig and Loyola-Chicago in round one. Wright had a strong argument to make for ACC Player of the Year. He threw down some very big numbers in recent weeks, piling up games with close to 30 points and 15 rebounds. He is a relentless rebounder who has developed a sharp shooting touch. Opponents are overwhelmed when they go up against him.

Bet on every game these players are in at our college basketball odds found in our online sportsbook.

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