The Road to Atlanta: East Region

EastBby Omar Moubayed

Wait; am I actually getting the opportunity to chime in on something that doesn’t involve ice, sticks, and pucks? It must be that month of the year where everyone thinks they’re a college basketball expert! I remember sitting in the hallway of the science wing of my high school filling out a bracket. The kicker is, I was the only one to do so way back then. Enough reminiscing about the past and let’s talk about the East bracket of the 2013 NCAA tournament.

The east is arguably the second most difficult bracket of the four, but nowhere near the conversation of the Midwest. Indiana has been in the top five practically the whole year. Miami has been the national Cinderella story coming from out of nowhere. Marquette shared the Big East regular season championship at 14-4, and Syracuse rounds out the top four teams in this bracket with their stellar play in all but one half against Louisville in the Big East championship. In my opinion these are the four teams that will advance to the Sweet 16, the only four teams that will be 1-4 respectively.

Let’s go ahead and break down the first round games below.

(1) Indiana vs. (16) JMU/LIU-Brooklyn

Alright come on. I don’t even have to bother with this one folks. Indiana will blow out either team, although if you are in a bracket pool that makes you pick play-ins I’m taking JMU.

(2) Miami vs. (15) Pacific

Miami has surprised me and the entire nation with their stellar play for the majority of the year. I had the privilege to watch this team grow in front of my eyes with leadership from the countless seniors. Coach Larranaga and his staff have paved the way for the success “THE U” has been able to show on the court. Miami takes this one folks, no doubt.

(3) Marquette vs. (14) Davidson

Davidson will give Marquette quite a run, but fans of the Golden Eagles won’t be scared to death, or maybe they will be half way. I think Davidson is a team that isn’t a true 14 seed. They bring the nation’s 38th most points per game and 42nd highest field goal percentage. If Davidson makes it rain from the outside it will be close. In the end, however, I believe Marquette still toughs it out!

(4) Syracuse vs. (13) Montana

I haven’t had the chance to watch this Montana team play this year but they won the Big Sky. Honestly, Montana should be proud of its 25-6 finish but Syracuse is out for blood after the embarrassment that was the second half of the Big East Championship game. Syracuse here folks.

(5) UNLV vs. (12) California

Is there a 5-12 upset here!? No. The PAC-12 has been down all year and California is another team that lost twice coming into this game. Then again UNLV lost to a ten win team on senior night. They could lose to anyone, just not tonight. UNLV.

(6) Butler vs. (11) Bucknell

Well if you have turned on ESPN at any point in time since this whole thing started Sunday night, you have seen tht this is the popular upset pick. NOT SO FAST! Butler has Smith to cover Muscala and I’m not sure Bucknell can cover Jones and Clarke for Butler. Butler wins.

(7) Illinois vs. (10) Colorado

Here is my upset pick on this bracket. Colorado has plenty of bad losses that should have cost them a trip to the tournament. Illinois doesn’t have many key wins other than a last second gimmick over Indiana. Teams don’t get to the line against Colorado and kenpom.com has their defensive efficiency at 26th in the nation. Illinois allows about a point per possession so even a bad Colorado offensive night may still have a chance. Colorado wins a thriller!

(8) NC State vs. (9) Temple

NC State has underperformed all year while having the 13th best points per game in the nation and the 5th highest field goal percentage. This is the team that was projected to win the ACC in a down year and well, that didn’t even come close to happening. Temple is a bad defensive team. Kenpom has them as the 117th and 250th in defensive efficiency and 3 point Def. efficiency respectively. The good news about this team is that they don’t turn the ball over which will help against an NC State squad that likes to get down the floor. NC State could easily make the Elite 8 if all the projections finally show up in March. NC State takes this handedly.

As we narrow it down now to only 8 teams in the east I have projected matches as follows:

(1) Indiana vs. (8) NC State

Which NC State team shows up will determine the outcome of this game. IF NC State gets open court because of Indiana’s lack of offensive efficiency, this game could go their way. The problem for the Wolfpack is that the Hoosiers match up well everywhere but the point guard position. I think this is close but Indiana moves on to DC.

(2) Miami vs. (10) Colorado

The Hurricanes will have to make some threes to get out of this one, but the big guys up front also need to play well. Gamble and Johnson need to show up and stay out of foul trouble for Miami to move on against Colorado’s big line up. Larkin and Scott will pull this one out for Miami as they move on to DC.

(3) Marquette vs. (6) Butler

Marquette is by far a better team than when these opponents met at the Maui Invitational. Want to know how this one ended? Google Butler buzzer beater and it’s the fourth video. Marquette dominates the paint and will dominate Butler as they punch a ticket to DC.

(4) Syracuse vs. (5) UNLV

Had to do some slight research on this match up but things are looking good for the Orangemen. UNLV doesn’t shoot well from the perimeter and that could be their downfall against a team that can run. Syracuse punches a ticket to DC.

And then there were four left in the East. A lot of information huh? Here is some more and here we go:

(1) Indiana vs. (4) Syracuse

This game will be awesome as almost all Big East vs Big Ten games are. If Syracuse can get to the glass over Indiana then the Orangemen will take it home. Both teams shoot about the same from the floor and “he who gets the ball from the glass shall win”. I don’t think Syracuse will get it done as IU moves on.

(2) Miami vs. (3) Marquette

Can the Canes keep the Eagles out of the paint? Yes. Can Kenny Kadji spread a team out to the perimeter? Yes. Are the ball screens going to hurt Marquette? Yes. Three Yes’s mean Miami will go on to face Indiana! Celebrate Coral Gables baby!

East Championship game:

(1) Indiana vs. (2) Miami

I’m being biased. Miami!!!!!!!!!

Thanks for reading. I will soon go back to NHL coverage, especially in time for the playoffs. My final four is Miami, Louisville, Ohio St., Georgetown. 😉

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