Bracket Prep: East Region

Posted 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

Region: EAST

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.

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Bracket Prep: Southwest Region

Posted by rtmsf on March 14th, 2011

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

Region: SOUTHWEST

Favorite: #1 Kansas (32-2, 14-2 Big 12). When the Kansas that showed up on Saturday afternoon in Kansas City is the team we get, the Jayhawks are the favorite not only in this region but in the entire NCAA Tournament.  The problem is that isn’t always the team that plays (witness the near-miss against Oklahoma State on Thursday).

Should They Falter: #2 Notre Dame (26-6, 14-4 Big East). Many observers had the Irish pegged as the fourth #1 seed over Duke given their sterling numbers on paper, so we know they’re capable.  Quite possibly playing as well as anyone the past two months, Mike Brey’s team is well-positioned in its bottom half of the bracket to make a run at the Final Four.

Grossly Overseeded: #11 USC or VCU (19-14, 10-8 Pac-10; 23-11, 12-6 CAA). It’s questionable whether either of these two First Four teams should even be playing in this Tournament, and for them to get an #11 seed slot instead of a #12 or #13 is equally irresponsible.  Before playing near home and making a run to the CAA finals, VCU had lost four of five games; USC had been playing better of late, but the Trojans also went through a Pac-10 stretch where they lost seven of ten (remember, we’re talking about the Pac-10 here, not the Big East).  The #12 seed in this region, Richmond, is better than both of these two teams, and they’re also playing like it.

Grossly Underseeded: #6 Georgetown (21-10, 10-8 Big East).  We’re hearing that Georgetown’s straw that stirs the drink, Chris Wright, will play in the NCAA Tournament, and if he’s near 100%, the Hoyas are much better than a #6 seed.  If not, or if he’s closer to 50% productivity, then JT3′s team is very much overseeded.  Guess we’ll find out on Friday which is which.

Sweet Sixteen Sleeper (#12 seed or lower): #12 Richmond (27-7, 13-3 A-10).  The Spiders received a favorable #5/#12 matchup in playing Vanderbilt, a BCS team that will not wow you with its athleticism.  They also defend the three very well, holding teams this year to 30.1%, an important consideration with Commodore sharpshooters John Jenkins (40.8%) and Jeffery Taylor (36.4%) very capable.  #4 Louisville in the second round would be difficult, but the Cards are a star-less team that sometimes drops a stinker against an inferior team (see: Providence, Drexel).

Final Four Sleeper (#4 seed or lower): #6 Georgetown (21-10, 10-8 Big East). Again, it completely and totally depends on the health of point guard Chris Wright.  If he can go, the Hoyas are quite capable of knocking out #3 Purdue, #2 Notre Dame and, under certain circumstances, #1 Kansas.  Their offense is so much more effective with Wright leading the charge that Georgetown has only broken sixty points in one game since his injury.

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Bracket Prep: Southeast Region

Posted by Brian Otskey on March 14th, 2011


Brian Otskey is an RTC contributor.
He will analyze the Southeast 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

Region: SOUTHEAST

Favorite: #1 Pittsburgh (27-5, 15-3 Big East). The Panthers won the Big East regular season title and now have their best chance to finally advance to the Final Four under Jamie Dixon. Pitt has made just one Final Four in their history (1941).

Should They Falter: #2 Florida (26-7, 13-3 SEC). Billy Donovan’s club racked up 11 top 50 wins this season and won 10 of their last 12 games. The two seed was surprising, but not unreasonable when you look deeper into their resume.

Grossly Overseeded: #8 Butler (23-9, 13-5 Horizon). Could last year’s success have played a role in their seeding? The Bulldogs are a solid team and won the Diamond Head Classic in December but their best non-conference win was over Florida State, a team that could only manage a #10 seed in this tournament. Butler lost three times to sub-100 RPI opponents, including #289 Youngstown State. A #10 or #11 seed would have been more appropriate.

Grossly Underseeded: #9 Old Dominion (27-6, 14-4 CAA). ODU has won nine straight and 13 of their last 14 games. The Monarchs beat NCAA teams Xavier, Richmond, Clemson and St. Peter’s out of conference, split with George Mason and beat VCU twice on their way to the CAA tournament title. Blaine Taylor’s team arguably should have earned a #6 or #7 seed.

Sweet Sixteen Sleeper (#12 seed or lower): #12 Utah State (30-3, 15-1 WAC). The Aggies are actually ranked well ahead of their first round opponent, Kansas State, in the Pomeroy Ratings. Utah State plays at a slower tempo and can grind Kansas State to a halt. Stew Morrill’s team is also terrific on the defensive end, ranking sixth in efficiency and second in defensive rebounding percentage. If they can make K-State shoot jump shots all night, Utah State will have an excellent shot to pull the #12 over #5 upset. Should they get by the Wildcats, Utah State will face Wisconsin or Belmont. They’d be comfortable in the pace Wisconsin plays and can use their stellar defense to slow Belmont’s up-tempo pace and efficient offense.

Final Four Sleeper: #5 Kansas State (22-10, 10-6 Big 12). The Wildcats had won six in a row and eight of nine games before slipping up against Colorado for the third time this season in the Big 12 Quarterfinals. Kansas State has a talented senior in Jacob Pullen, a guy capable of willing this team all the way to Houston. This club can play with anyone when they’re hot and has the toughness to stand up to any team in this bracket, including Pittsburgh. A surprise trip to the Final Four would be sweet redemption for this team, one that was picked to advance there by many before the season started.

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Bracket Prep: West Region

Posted by rtmsf on March 14th, 2011

Andrew Murawa is an RTC contributor.  He will analyze the West 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

Region:  WEST

Favorite: #1 Duke (29-4, 13-3 ACC). They shouldn’t be regarded as a big favorite here, but given that the school that is the #2 seed here has never won an NCAA Tournament game, and the #3 seed if coming off five games in five days, the ACC Champion should again be a favorite to reach the Final Four.

Should They Falter: #2 San Diego State (32-2, 14-2 MWC). Provided the Aztecs can notch their first ever Tournament victory, things set up pretty nicely for them. Their experience with Jimmer Fredette should give them confidence in a potential matchup with Kemba Walker and Connecticut in the Sweet 16 round, and if they see Duke in the regional final, they’ll be the most  athletic team on the court.

Grossly Overseeded: #8 Michigan (20-13, 9-9 Big Ten). The Wolverines bounced back from a six-game losing streak in January to win nine of their last 13, but for a team that figured to be on the bubble going into the Selection Show, an eight seed is shocking.

Grossly Underseeded: #4 Texas (27-7, 13-3 Big 12). Saying Texas is “grossly underseeded” is grossly overstating it, but I’m having a hard time seeing anybody else in this region that is underseeded, and Texas at least has an argument for getting a #3 over a team like BYU. However, a 4-4 record down the stretch turned a team that was in the conversation for a #1 seed in late February into a #4 seed with a tough road ahead.

Sweet Sixteen Sleeper (#12 seed or lower): #13 Oakland (25-9, 17-1 Summit). The Grizzlies feature future NBA big man Keith Benson on a veteran team that is playing in its second straight NCAA Tournament. And Oakland won’t be fazed by playing a major conference team like Texas, as they played the 4th toughest non-conference schedule in the nation, and even knocked off Tennessee in Knoxville in mid-December.

Final Four Sleeper (#4 seed or lower): #5 Arizona, 27-7. Wildcat forward Derrick Williams is on the very short list of the best players in the nation, and if Sean Miller can get production from a couple of other players on his roster, guys like Momo Jones, Solomon Hill or Kevin Parrom, this Wildcat team could be a tough out. However, if they’re going to get to the Final Four, they’d potentially have to go through Memphis, Texas, Duke and San Diego State or UConn to get there – in other words, they’ll have to earn it.

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