Monday, March 18, 2013

NCAA East Region: Hurricane Warning

Ball So Hard Sports is breaking down each of the 4 regions before giving you our Final Four and title picks as well as unveiling our full bracket for you to compete against. We've already covered the Midwest and West Regions and now come back East, where Indiana holds the #1 seed.

This region feels like the one where nobody is really overwhelming, some teams have disappointed and fell into low seeds here. Others got seeded a bit better than they should but are here as well. You'd like to think one of the top 2, Indiana and Miami, would view this as a weak draw and roll through to Atlanta, but you can't help but think one of the lower seeds or a real Cinderella could come out of this one and not just because the new King of Cinderellas, Butler, is here either.

Favorites: Indiana has to be on the top of most prediction lists. They were at or near the top of the polls all year long, they have Victor Oladipo and Tyler Zeller, quite possibly the best duo in the country and after a steady rise, Tom Crean has the Hoosiers ready to return to glory. Miami, led by Jim Larranaga (who knows a thing or two about NCAA Tourney runs) has come from the unknowns this year to run through the ACC with regular-season and tournament titles. Syracuse has had its ups and downs, but they're always a threat in march with Boeheim manning the sidelines.

Sleepers:  NC State was a chic pic early in the season to do exactly what Miami did. While they sputtered all year, they are playing well now and could pose a big problem for the Hoosiers in round three. Butler is hoping the third time is the charm with coach Brad Stevens. Illinois is being talked about simply for being a Big 10 team and the dominance of the conference this year. While not region winner worthy, Cal, Bucknell, Montana and Davidson all could provide some first round upsets to mess up your bracket.

Best First Round Game: UNLV/Cal was my pick, simply because UNLV is playing with a chip on their shoulder as they hear they were over-seeded and have to play Cal in San Jose, but the best game to watch in this region is going to be the Davidson/Marquette contest. A lot of people picking Davidson in the upset and if it happens, watching a 14 over a 3 will be a highlight of your day, unless you have Marquette, of course.

Best Potential Late Round Game: Indiana vs. Butler. While I don't have this match-up in my bracket, you have to love the potential of this rematch. Indiana getting a shot at revenge and the Final Four by beating a Butler team who beat them on a buzzer-beater and would be heading to their third straight Final Four. Full of drama that we'd all love, but I don't think either will be playing on that day.

Ball So Hard Sports Pick:  Miami. I think point guards are going to be critical in this tournament. Shane Larkin is one of the best in the country and he's going to get a chance to show everyone that, as well as show that Miami isn't a fluke by bringing them to the Final Four. Hell, Miami is currently the capital of the basketball world, so why shouldn't the Hurricanes be our pick?

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