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Breaking Down the Bracket - East Region

While there have not been many surprises in the East Region, if you do not have Indiana, Syracuse or Miami making the National Championship you better be rooting for a Marquette Final Four appearance!  If the Golden Eagles can somehow surprise everyone as a 3 seed (weird), it can really make a Bracket that has Kansas or Florida from the right side of the Bracket.

TV Schedule (EST):

Thursday, March 28
2 Miami vs. (W) 3 Marquette CBS 7:15pm
1 Indiana vs. (W) 4 Syracuse CBS 9:35pm

*Updates all week, check back daily!

2 Miami vs 3 Marquette
I have the Hurricanes making a Final Four appearance, but I would not mind them being upset this weekend.  It would make my Kansas National Championship pick much more realistic!  The only way that happens is if Vander Blue continues to be aggressive and attempt 15 shots.  His aggressiveness has lead to 12 free throw attempts (made all 12) and 45 points including 5 of 10 from downtown.  That will lead to Golden Eagles points and when they reach 70, they are 16-1. 

The Hurricanes shot 54% from downtown against Pacific, but Illinois was able to keep them at 36% and stay competitive.  Miami's guards have carried this team with 95 of the teams 141 points.  Kenny Kadji, Julian Gamble and the big guy Reggie Johnson have been ineffective shooting 11-29 and and just 7-14 from the free throw line.  I think they will need a big game on the offensive boards from one of these guys and they will have to capitalize on second chance points. 

1 Indiana vs 4 Syracuse
The Hoosiers team that struggled against the Temple Owls is the team I expect to see on Thursday against the 'Cuse zone.  A team that shot 42%, made just 4 3s and had just 9 assists.  Cody Zeller is going to have a tough time getting the ball where he would like it and needs it to be effective and we could see a repeat of his 4-10 performance in the last round.  The same game in which he had 6 turnovers.  Indiana will have to rely on the 3 ball, which is not something they do often, but they do shoot it rather efficiently.  Victor Oladipo and Christian Watford will be doing some heavy lifting for Indiana as well as senior guard Jordan Hulls who is the teams best 3pt shooter.

For Syracuse, they just need to play their game and score off turnovers the zone creates.  Their two opponents are just 8 of 51 from downtown and the only way to beat Syracuse is to knock down those 3s or figure how to get the ball inside.  Syracuse has been struggling from the line which could come back to haunt them in a tough matchup with Indiana.  They have attempted a tournament high 72 free throws but have made just 48 of them.  That has been a big issue all season long.  The one thing I like about Cuse is that they do not force the offense through a single player.  They share the ball and everyone gets the neccessary attempts to become the hot hand.

Pre Round of 64
The East Region is lead by the Indiana Hoosiers who finished 27-6 and were upset by Wisconsin 68-56 in the semifinals of the Big Ten tournament.  The Hoosiers finished the season just 3-3 with other loses to Minnesota and Ohio State.  This is the region that will screw up every ones brackets, with teams like Marquette, Syracuse and Butler to cause some chaos.

TV Schedule (EST):

Wednesday, March 20
16 Long Island vs. (W) 16 James Madison 6:40 p.m. truTV

Thursday, March 21
(W) 6 Butler vs. 11 Bucknell 12:40 p.m. truTV
(W) 3 Marquette vs. 14 Davidson 3:10 p.m. truTV
5 UNLV vs. (W) 12 California 7:27 p.m. truTV
(W) 4 Syracuse vs. 13 Montana 9:57 p.m. truTV

Friday, March 22
8 N.C. State vs. (W)  9 Temple 1:40 p.m. TBS
(W) 2 Miami vs. 15 Pacific 2:10 p.m. TNT
(W) 1 Indiana vs. 16 James Madison 4:10 p.m. TBS
(W) 7 Illinois vs. 10 Colorado 4:40 p.m. TNT
1 Indiana vs. 16 James Madison
Pick Distribution - Yahoo (98% Indiana) ESPN (99% Indiana) CBS (100% Indiana)
  • Indiana will be safe until the Sweet 16.  If they get stuck playing Syracuse, they might have some issues, but UNLV should not stop the Hoosiers from an Elite 8 appearance.
    • They had a bunch of opportunities to prove to the Nation that they are in a league of their own, and failed.  I get the same feeling come a Sweet 16 matchup with Cuse or an Elite 8 matchup with the Miami Hurricanes.  Indiana has all of the neccessary players to win this entire tournament, with Cody Zeller, Victor Oladipo and the likes, but I can't bet my bracket on it.
2 Miami vs. 15 Pacific
Pick Distribution - Yahoo (97% Miami) ESPN (98% Miami) CBS (99% Miami)
  • There is little standing in Miami's way en route to the Elite 8 until a Sweet 16 matchup with Butler.  I do not think Brad Stevens team has enough to stop the Hurricanes. 
    • This Miami team is living up to their name of Hurricanes.  Once they get going they are nearly impossible to stop and blow through anything standing in their way.  Shane Larkin and Kenny Kadji are the required centerpieces to a potential National Championship.  They have a great supporting cast with Duran Scott, Julian Gamble, Trey McKinney Jones and Reggie Johnson. 
3 Marquette vs. 14 Davidson 
Pick Distribution - Yahoo (86% Marquette) ESPN (86% Marquette) CBS (87% Marquette)
  • Marquette might not make it past Butler in the Round of 32.  Hopefully you roll with Miami to the Elite 8 so you won't have to worry about either team after this potential matchup.
    • Marquette features two solid players in Vander Blue and Davante Gardner, but their lack of long distance shooters will hurt them. 
4 Syracuse vs. 13 Montana 
Pick Distribution - Yahoo (93% Syracuse) ESPN (94% Syracuse) CBS (95% Syracuse)
  • Cuse has the potential to run this region and ruin your bracket.  Montana and UNLV should be no problem for the Orange but a Sweet 16 matchup with Indiana will be fun to watch.
    • On paper Syracuse owns one of the nations deepest rosters.  They also have one of the nations best PG in Michael Carter Williams.  Add that to scorers CJ Fair, James Sutherland and Brandon Triche and you can understand why Cuse COULD possibly blow this region up.  The zone defense will cause problems for opposing teams.
5 UNLV vs. 12 California
Pick Distribution - Yahoo (75% UNLV) ESPN (74% UNLV) CBS (77% UNLV)
  • Huge fan of Anthony Bennett but not a fan of either team.  Regardless, neither team gets passed Syracuse in the Round of 32.  This is not the 12/5 upset you are looking for this year.
    • Cal relys solely Allen Crabbe and Justin Cobbs offensively and lacks any other options.  UNLV's superior supporting cast will lead them to a W.
6 Butler vs. 11 Bucknell
Pick Distribution - Yahoo (80% Butler) ESPN (80% Butler) CBS (82% Butler)
  • ESPN Insider Game Predictor gives Bucknell a 40% chance of upsetting Butler, yet 78% of people are going with Butler anyway.  I am one of the 78%. 
    • Mike Muscala of Bucknell could ruin the Butler's chance of yet another long tournament run, but in the end, Rotnei Clarke should help the Bulldogs play a couple of games this March.
7 Illinois vs. 10 Colorado
Pick Distribution - Yahoo (63% Illinois) ESPN (65% Illinois) CBS (63% Illinois)
  • Not an important game as Miami will wipe the floor with whoever is victorious.
    • Colorado is the better shooting and rebounding team.  Illinois love of the 3 ball will be the reason they win or lose.
8 NC State vs. 9 Temple
Pick Distribution - Yahoo (65% NC State) ESPN (70% NC State) CBS (68% NC State)
  • Same story here, neither team will get by Indiana.
    • Khalif Wyatt scores nearly 20 points per game for Temple and could be the difference maker.  NC State shares the scoring duties so if one guy struggles, someone else will be there to pick up the slack, which is why I like the Wolfpack.
Potential Bracket Busters:
4 Syracuse Orange - Cuse probably has the easiest road to the Sweet 16 of all 4 seeds.  The way Indiana has struggled in big games, Syracuse could be on their way to an Elite 8 appearance!

6 Butler Bulldogs - Can't count out a Brad Stevens team and their path to the Sweet 16 is only going to be challenged by Marquette, who can be beat.

Potential National Champions:
1 Indiana Hoosiers
2 Miami Hurricanes
4 Syracuse Orange

Breaking Down the South Region
Breaking Down the West Region
Breaking Down the Midwest Region