Bracket Prep: East RegionPosted by rtmsf on March 14th, 2011
Zach Hayes is the RTC bracketologist and a contributor. He will analyze the East Region throughout the NCAA Tournament.
Throughout Monday, we’ll be releasing our Bracket Prep analyses of each of the four NCAA Tournament regions. The order will be as follows — please check back throughout the day for all four (all times eastern).
- West – 9 am
- Southeast – 11 am
- Southwest – 1 pm
- East – 3 pm
Favorite: #1 Ohio State, 32-2 (16-2 Big Ten)- The Buckeyes come into the tournament as the #1 overall seed and the prohibitive favorite to cut down the nets. Big Ten freshman POY Jared Sullinger anchors the inside, but defenses can’t double Sully because of the Buckeyes’ plethora of perimeter options.
Should They Falter: #2 North Carolina, 26-7 (14-2)- The Tar Heels have been a completely different team since Kendall Marshall took over at the point guard position. His dynamic passing ability has aided Harrison Barnes, while big men Tyler Zeller and John Henson have also made tremendous strides.
Grossly Overseeded: #10 Georgia, 21-11 (9-7)- Most projected the Bulldogs to sneak into the field as one of the last teams in or even be left out altogether. Instead, they earn a #10 seed? Georgia has won just five games all season against the RPI top-100.
Grossly Underseeded: #11 Marquette, 20-14 (9-9) – The 9-9 record won’t jump out at you, but remember the Golden Eagles thrashed Notre Dame, won at Connecticut, beat Syracuse and also downed West Virginia in the Big East Tournament, all top five seeds. They also had many other close losses to good teams along the way
Sweet Sixteen Sleeper (#12 seed or lower): #13 Princeton, 25-6 (12-2)- We’ve seen this program pull off some March magic in the past. This year’s version is fairly efficient offensively and has capable players in Ian Hummer and Kareem Maddox. If the Tigers shock Kentucky, a more vulnerable West Virginia team likely awaits.
Final Four Sleeper (#4 seed or lower): #4 Kentucky, 25-8 (10-6)- This young Kentucky team is riding high after winning at Tennessee in the season finale and then dominating both Alabama and Florida in the SEC Tournament. Darius Miller is playing the best basketball of his career and it’s the junior amidst a trio of talented freshman that could make the difference for the Cats.
Carmelo Anthony Award: Harrison Barnes, North Carolina- 15.0 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 1.4 APG, 42% FG, 76% FT, 35% 3pt.
Stephen Curry Award: Tu Holloway, Xavier- 20.2 PPG, 5.5 APG, 5.1 RPG, 43% FG, 87% FT, 35% 3pt.
Home Cooking: #1 Ohio State, 142 miles from Columbus to Cleveland.
Can’t Miss First Round Game: Xavier vs. Marquette, Friday.
Don’t Miss This One Either: George Mason vs. Villanova, Friday.
Lock of the Year: The top four seeds in this region will reach the Sweet 16. I’d argue that Ohio State, North Carolina, Syracuse and Kentucky are the most dangerous teams of their respective seed lines.
Juiciest Potential Matchup – purists: Ohio State vs. North Carolina, Elite Eight. The stardom on the floor would be outstanding, but these two teams execute as well as any on the defensive end. They both rank in the top ten in the nation in defensive efficiency.
Juiciest Potential Matchup – media: Kentucky vs. West Virginia, Second round. Bob Huggins just can’t seem to escape the Wildcats. Question is: will Kentucky fair better than 4 for 32 from three this time around? With Brandon Knight and Doron Lamb, I’d bet on it.
We Got Screwed: #2 North Carolina. If there’s any flaw with the Tar Heels, it’s their inability to make threes. They shot just 33% from deep on the season. Against Syracuse’s patented 2-3 zone in what could be a quasi-road game in Newark, they’ll be coaxed into taking their fair share from deep.
Strongest Pod: Cleveland, with Xavier, Marquette, Syracuse, Indiana State. The Musketeers ran roughshod over the Atlantic 10 during the regular season, while Marquette’s long list of close defeats to elite teams makes them dangerous. Syracuse enters the tournament playing their best basketball and the Sycamores play some stout defense.
Odds of a 5-12 Upset: 40%. West Virginia has had some major trouble shooting this season and Clemson ranks ninth in defensive efficiency. Casey Mitchell is a question mark to produce on any given night. The Tigers need to scrape by UAB first, but if they win their first round game, Clemson has a fair shot to pull off the upset.
So-Called Experts: Ohio State as the overall #1 seed is predictably popular, but the ascent of North Carolina behind Kendall Marshall will attract their fair share of prognosticators. Also, Jay Bilas pegged Syracuse to win this region.
The Pick: Ohio State is the best team in the country and shows it, trudging through an extremely tough region by downing George Mason in the second round, Kentucky in the Sweet 16 and Syracuse in the Elite Eight.
Vegas Odds to Win Region: