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.