The East bracket isn’t the most interesting of regions in the tournament but it does boast some pretty impressive matchups. No. 1 seed Indiana doesn’t have a clean path to the Final Four but it’s not impossible. However while Indiana has dreams of dancing in Atlanta, so do teams like Syracuse, Butler, Marquette and Miami and they all plan on stopping at nothing to ensure their dreams are realized.
No. 1 Seed:
Indiana is the No. 3 overall seed in terms of all the teams in the tournament, and they’re clear cut favorites to make a deep run in the East region as the No. 1 seed. Indiana is a streaky team though and that’s been on display all season long with upset losses putting a damper on an otherwise solid season from the Hoosiers. But while they’re favorites to emerge from the region, we’ve seen what happens when the Hoosiers have an off game and we’ve also seen the frequency rate of those as well.
Bucknell is perhaps the quintessential Cinderella team this year as their first two matchups set them up well to make a run into the Sweet Sixteen in the region. Butler is returning to the tournament after missing the dance last year, but Bucknell has the upset odds in their favor in that game, and also boast an overwhelming chance in the Round of 32 against Marquette. It’s not a lock that they will tear into the region’s lower half, but people look for that Cinderella team every year and Bucknell is the closest thing we’re likely to get to one. As for California, they get a matchup against No. 5 UNLV in the Round of 64 which is essentially a home game for them. Not only is the game in San Jose, but California played UNLV earlier this season as well. Despite losing in that game, Cal is poised for an upset now that things count.
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Butler is returning to the tournament after missing out last season, but that doesn’t mean they’re a lock to make a deep run in the tourney. The Bulldogs get a rough second round matchup with the Bucknell Bison and it’s shaping up to be a game that will put Butler on the ropes right out of the gate. As for Illinois, the Illini don’t defend well, they don’t shoot particularly well either. They win when Brandon Paul and D.J. Richardson are lighting things up from outside, but that doesn’t happen often enough to make them a strong team in the tournament. UNLV has a nasty game against Cal in the Round of 64, and despite winning earlier this season when the two teams played, UNLV isn’t an overwhelming favorite to beat the Golden Bears this time around and even if they do they’re not making it much further than the Round of 32.
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Last Two Standing:
Despite the fact that the road there is going to be bumpy at best, the East region’s Elite Eight representatives are shaping up to be Indiana and Miami who happen to be two of the hottest teams in the country at the moment. Indiana has been up and down all season long, but they boast an impressive lineup that can dominate you just as easily as they can slip up and allow you to get into a close game with them. The Hurricanes are the darlings of the tournament at the moment, as every analyst and fan is keeping a watchful eye on them to see just how far this team can go. Miami has never played basketball this well ever before, and they’re currently riding on pure adrenaline that got them through the ACC tournament and earned them a title. But the question remains how long will that adrenaline last?
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Well, apparently it will last them into the Final Four. I know, it’s the fluffy, easy popcorn pick because everyone in the world thinks that they’re an NCAA guru because they have Miami making it to the Final Four. But when you look at it, the Hurricanes are far from being the worst pick to do so. Miami boasts one of the ACC’s best shot-blockers in Julian Gamble, they have insanely strong rebounders in Reggie Johnson and Kenny Kadji, and just so happen to have the top two vote-getters in the ACC’s Defensive Player of the Year voting: runner-up Shane Larkin and winner Durand Scott. So you can see that they’re more than just the team everyone is picking to make it to the Final Four, they’re a legit threat to make a run at a title.
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