Bracket Bustin’: East & Midwest Regions

14 Mar

For our musings on the South & West regions in this year’s bracket, head here.

East Bracket

Randall P. Floyd:

– So far the most buzz to come out of this region has been Syracuse’s loss of star Fab Melo, who’s been suspended for the tournament due to academic problems.  I had doubts about the Orangemen’s mental focus and toughness even before this, and now it’s even harder to see them getting very far in the tourney this year.  They have an easy game in the first round, but still expect to see several shots of Peeved Jim Boeheim on the bench before the second round’s over.

– Wisconsin looks to be the team most able to take advantage of Syracuse’s misfortune.  The Badgers have some tourney experience and can easily sneak into the Elite Eight or maybe even the Final Four.  Just don’t expect to have a great time watching several rounds of the grind-em-out, ‘first to 50 wins’ games that the Big Ten is so strangely proud of.

– The quicker Ohio State just goes away, the better.

– Florida State has been looking sneakily good all season, starting with strong regular-season wins over Duke and UNC and finishing up with an ACC Tournament title.  Their ranking might not make them an ‘underdog’ pick, but I still think they’ll surprise people with how far they’ll make it.  Also, they’re being coached by Bunny from The Wire, which is worth at least two tourney wins in its own right.  If I was a FSU student, the Hamsterdam Fan Shirts would have been made months ago.

– Gonzaga always seems to have at least 2-3 players who look like that shaggy kid in your homeroom or dorm hall who rocked sweatpants 24/7, played a lot of FIFA, and had a great pot hook.

–  It wouldn’t be very surprising if Vandy and Harvard had velvet pouches of gold coins kept on the scorers’ table during their game and then delivered to the winner, just to make things a little more interesting and worth their time.

– Feels like the Sweet Sixteen matchups coming out of the East will be Kansas State vs. Wisconsin, and Florida State vs. Ohio State, with the region to be decided by Wisconsin vs. Florida State.

Donovan Kess:

Syracuse.  My chips were all in with Syracuse until Fab Melo was declared ineligible. Losing Melo impacts the style of gameplay dramatically, however this will not be an easy upset for UNC Asheville who will need to take advantage of the defensive holes by transitioning fast and winning the inside game.

Wisconsin.  The alma mater of my soon to be father-in-law, the Badger’s made an impressive end of season run, which makes me hate to like them ever more. Not counting the two losses to Michigan State, this team has played some impressive basketball this season and they will need to bring it against Montana in Round 1 and then potentially against Vanderbilt in Round 2.

Cincinnati.  After going 1-1 with Syracuse for the regular season, and gaining momentum with wins against Marquette, Georgetown and Connecticut, it just feels right watching Cincinnati advance to late in the tourney. The obvious question will be if they can get past a round 2 matchup versus a rabid Florida State.

Ohio St.  With a fresh loss to Michigan State the Buckeye team is deflated, but needs to realize they played ruthless basketball all season. They are capable of maintaining a steady offense while not letting anything go on D. The big match ups include a possible round 2 versus Gonzaga.

Midwest Bracket

RPF:

–  Kansas has been a popular pick to get upset early on, based upon some of their recent tourney struggles, and Detroit is no push-over behind their scoring leader and coach’s son, Ray McCallum.  McCallum is a solid player and was even given an offer to play at Kansas, which he turned down to play for his dad.  This could make for an interesting game, but Kansas is probably just too strong.

– Not to be outdone by fellow WAC member, St. Mary’s always seems to have a few of the bushy-haired roommates of the aforementioned Zag brahs at their disposal.

– Cal was the only Pac-12 team to receive an at-large bid to the tourney this year, which is totally justified.  The Pac-12 play this year bordered on a pillow fight, and the level of excitement at the conference tournament in Staples was dismal.  You had a good chance of finding a higher level of basketball being played at the USC street courts down the street.

– North Carolina finished off the year on a good run, after being stunned by a last-minute Duke comeback in Chapel Hill.  Can the Mr. Rogers of college basketball take them to the ‘ship this year?

–  Creighton has a little bit of that ‘surprise run’ feel to them this year, but face a daunting second round challenge against UNC.  Expect a lot of ‘scrappy’ references.

– Temple seems like a bit of a surprise as a 5-seed – feels like I haven’t heard anything about them all year.  The only thing I can think of when I hear about Temple is Bill Cosby.  In fact, if the selection committee had taken a break during the bracketing process and Bill Cosby: Himself was on TV, and everyone enjoyed some laughs and Pudding Pops before getting back to their work, then I can totally understand how that moved Temple up several seeds.

DK:

UNC.  My third most watched team of the year behind Duke and Western Washington University, this year’s squad is electric with a stellar pace that is backed up by a defense that affects every team it plays. My favorite matchups include a potential Round 3 battle against Temple.

Temple.  Temple always has a respectful basketball team on the court and this year is no different. They beat Duke early in the season and have been riding that big blue wave of joy ever since. Two of their players are shooting nearly 40% behind the arc which will make the possible round 2 matchup against Michigan even more exciting.

Georgetown.  They are a great defensive team that should go far in the tournament due to the depth of their regular season schedule and the veteran status of Henry Sims and Jason Clark. The Hoyas possible matchups are challenging with possible opponents of Perdue in Round 2 and Kansas in Round 3.

Kansas.  A perennial tournament favorite that should have no problem dealing with the first two rounds of this tournament. The discipline required to win against Georgetown or Syracuse rounds will come from the lessons they learned during the early season losses to both Duke and Kentucky.

Enjoy the Madness and stop by Dan Swanky’s throughout the tourney for more straight talk and snappy sound bites.

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