CCS March Madness Regional Breakdown – East
Best Player you’ve Never Heard Of: Tu Holloway – PG – Xavier Musketeers
— Tu is a take-over-games player, in a class of players who are dependent on pure skills or systems to drive their success. Don’t expect him to immediately churn a tourney performance into NBA lottery status, although he remains the sleeper player of the East Bracket.
Most Overseeded: Villanova Wildcats – 9
Starting the season with impressive and convincing wins over a tough spread, the Wildcats went from under-dog to over-rated. Ever since the Wildcats were put onto the national radar, they closed the season on a 5 game losing streak. The strength of schedule may have helped them retain a measly 9th seed, but nobody will be fooled by their one-trick pony offense of streak shooting from Senior guard, Corey Fisher.
Most Underseeded: Washington Huskies – 7
Unlike most uptempo teams in the tournament, the Huskies have made the adjustments to improve their defense and overall game after losses. Most high powered offenses patch their weaknesses with more of the same, while Washington has made impressive strides to control the passing lanes and capitalize off turnovers.
Upset Alert: Marquette
I hate being on the fence with a bracket, but the East doesn’t have any standout upsets in the 2nd Round.
Indiana State has the make-up to pull the biggest upset and furthest run for a 14th seed. If they can pull a miracle and beat Syracuse, they have the momentum to walk into the Sweet Sixteen.
Marquette has been finding ways to stay close in games, and winning most of them. It’s not a clear upset, but If I picked my bracket to win, you have to take chances on underdogs to set yourself apart. Marquette is the best chance at an upset in the 2nd Round.
How can George Mason be a surprise team? They have been turning heads for the last 5 years and at this point, they are no longer surprising anyone in tournament play. When is it okay to just accept the fact that George Mason can be a Cinderella ever year? Until they make it back into the Final Four, they haven’t proved more than establishing a solid developmental system. Don’t sleep on the Patriots again this year and don’t be surprised if they sneak up on the Buckeyes.
Princeton will be making an Ivy League record, 24th appearance, after a late season surge to knock rival Harvard out, who has not made the tourney in 60 years.
(1) Ohio St. vs (16) UTSA or AL St.
Neither matchup will be a problem for Ohio State. Both UT San Antonio and Alabama State are lead by a single senior presence and lack depth to compete with OSU. Devin Gibson will pose the biggest threat between the two teams, and I expect the UTSA Roadrunners to squeeze by ALST in round two. If Gibson falls flat, the small size and speed of the Roadrunner’s supporting cast can take over a game against most teams, but they are far from being a Championship contender.
(2) UNC vs. (15) Long Island
The Long Island Blackbirds are lead by two athletic sophomores in Julian Boyd and Jamal Olasewere. The Blackbirds represent one of the highest power offenses in the tourney, but lack the stopping power against teams with size and strength. Don’t expect the North Carolina Tar Heels to hold the Blackbirds under 60 points, but don’t expect Long Island to hold UNC under 80. UNC is far too strong to lose this game.
(3) Syracuse vs. (14) Indiana State
The Syracuse Orange play a pro-style game with a good level of efficiency. Look for them to dominate the paint and win ugly. Indiana State is an emotional powered team that quickly loses composure in frustrating games. This matchup is going to be 40 minutes of frustration, a nightmare for the Indiana State Sycamores and I can’t foresee an upset here. Although if the Sycamores catch fire from beyond the arc, don’t expect the Orange-men to match intensity.
(4) UK v (13) Princeton
Kentucky is a NBA-factory, always recruiting one-two year and done players. This team has two potential first round picks in Brandon Knight and Terrence Jones. Don’t expect an upset here, with Princeton scraping it ways to an IVY league title and getting over-ranked for the tourney thanks to a weak schedule.
(5) WV vs. (12) Alabama-Birmingham/Clemson
West Virgina made a dark horse run into last year’s Final Four, and remain basically the same core as last season. The WV Mountaineers are Elite-8 material this season. If they were to get upset, look for Clemson to force West Virginia into a very close game that could come down to the buzzer.
I don’t expect UAB to beat Clemson. The Blazers 22-8 record is credited to one of the toughest home courts this season.
(6) Xavier vs (11) Marquette
Xavier has nearly no depth and heavily relies on starters to win games. Tu Holloway is their 6’0″ beast who has been extraordinarily consistent, and will be the main reason why Xavier should win. I see Marquette pulling off an upset due to their depth and tempo. The Golden Eagles should make a run in the final 4 minutes that could knock off #6 for my first upset pick of the Region. Xavier has the edge in size and skill, making this a tough pick, however the Golden Eagles are one of a few low-ranked teams that can drive games with a lead foot on offense.
(7) Washington vs (10) Georgia
The Georgia Bulldogs are a high-risk team that can punish teams quick. Without a huge 3-ball threat, expect Georgia to foul early and often to regain some tempo. The Washington Huskies on the other hand are a powder keg waiting to explode. This is the fastest tempo offense in the tourney that will prove to be the most fun game to see in round two of the East. Georgia has struggled of late and most teams have already figured out how to beat them. If Washington can avoid the grind, this is an easy win for them.
(8) George Mason vs (9) Villanova
The GM Patriots have become one of the most impressive basketball systems under Jim Larranaga since it’s memorable run in 2006. George Mason is on a hot-streak among top teams, and Villanova is just the opposite.
The Villanova Wildcats started the season with an impressive 16-1 run. For the remainder, the Wildcats went 6-10 against a very tough schedule.
I have no hopes for the Wildcats in this tourney whatsoever. George Mason may not have the biggest names or a dominating player, but they are among the most disciplined and reliable teams in NCAABB. Expect George Mason to crush Villanova, so it can rest it’s best players. Villanova needs F Antonio Pena to become a high volume threat in the paint to give the Patriots any mismatches, and that is not likely.
——-Sweet 16 Projection——–
1-Ohio St Vs. 5-WVU
3-Syracuse Vs. 2-UNC
Don’t forget to enter your Brackets into the CCS March Madness Pool.