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Snap Judgments: Midwest Region Preview

Photo by Robert Cole
Almost everything was going swimmingly for Dana Altman and the Ducks before Chris Boucher's ACL tear last week. Can the Ducks, a No. 3 seed, recover from that loss to make a Final Four run? (Yasmin Vahdatpour/ALOST)
Almost everything was going swimmingly for Dana Altman and the Ducks before Chris Boucher’s ACL tear last week at the Pac-12 Tournament. Can Oregon, the No. 3 seed in the Midwest, recover from that loss to make the Final Four? (Yasmin Vahdatpour/ALOST)

The Madness is here!

With apologies to Christmastime and St. Patrick’s Day (the latter being just around the corner), the most wonderful time of the year – especially for sports fans – is nigh, with the 2017 NCAA Tournament officially getting started today with the play-in games taking place in Dayton. Throughout most of the season, A Lot of Sports Talk has had the honor of being able to have a photographer courtside for many of the game’s biggest contests, and in so doing, has managed to take photos of players and coaches from teams that, combined, make up more than half of the 2017 NCAA Tournament field. Hmm…what’s there to do with all of these pictures?

How about creating a super duper photo gallery and fuse it with our NCAA Tournament preview?

Well, that’s exactly what we’ve done, as the next four “Snap Judgments” galleries will all be an extensive display of photos, taken from our lenses, of the major players who make up each of the four regions of the NCAA Tournament. Along with the photos, the captions will provide details on each of the teams highlighted as we preview almost each team in each region and edify you with what you need to know to better familiarize yourself with those teams. At the end of each gallery, we make our prediction as to which team we believe will make the Final Four in Glendale, Ariz.

Our latest preview is of the Midwest Region, where the top seed is the Kansas Jayhawks, looking to bounce back from a shocking Big 12 Tournament quarterfinals loss to TCU to make it back to Kansas City for the South Regionals. The team that went on to win the Big 12 Tournament, the Iowa State Cyclones, are also in the region, and two wins by both them and the Jayhawks would see the two square off in the Sweet 16. Louisville is the No. 2 seed in the region, and it seems like Rick Pitino is due for another Final Four appearance. His last Final Four, one in which the Cardinals won it all in 2013, paired Pitino with John Beilein in the national championship game, and that may very well happen again in the second round with the Wolverines as the No. 7 seed. One of the powers out West all season long, the Oregon Ducks look to prove the Pac-12’s might by taking the region away from the aforementioned schools. But, because of the team it drew in the first round to go along with a key injury to one of its best frontcourt players, is Oregon ripe for an early upset against an upstart from the Empire State?

We would not have been able to entertain this story idea without the yeoman effort of our photographer Robert Cole, who snapped almost all of the 39 pictures in this gallery. Special thanks also go out to Bay Area-based photographer Yasmin Vahdatpour, as well as New York City-based photojournalist Herbert Delancey of the America Sports Network, whose work is also featured in this gallery. Note: Not all teams are represented with a photo, so our apologies if your team isn’t a part of the gallery. That doesn’t mean we don’t have love for you. More often than not, that means we weren’t able to make it out to the school’s location to have a photographer present to shoot them. Pictures that were not taken my A Lot of Sports Talk but featured in the galleries are noted in parenthesis at the end of each caption.

Keep refreshing this page over the next couple of hours, as we will roll out previews of each of the other regions over the next few hours. Earlier this week, we released our previews of the East and South regions. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures.

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