Wednesday, March 20, 2013

2013 March Madness - East Region (First Weekend)

Quite frankly, the East region is pretty boring. Sure, it features preseason favorite Indiana, and a team no one was talking about in the preseason, the Miami Hurricanes. But besides those teams, I find little that interesting on this side of the bracket. The higher seeded teams appear to be clearly better than their opponents, so I expect mostly chalk to rule the day in the East this weekend.

Best Game: #6 Butler vs. #11 Bucknell

Was hard to find a Second Round game that really excited me, but watching two strong mid-majors do battle could be fun. The Bison are led by monster Mike Muscala. Muscala is a force both scoring and rebounding and averaged a double double for the season. On the other side are the Bulldogs, who in their last two appearances in the NCAA Tournament reached the championship game. Guard Rotnei Clark is their leading scorer, but the pressure will be on center Andrew Smith to win his battle against Muscala. It will almost be like watching throwback basketball to see the game decided by a battle between two big men.

Player to Watch: Indiana guard Victor Oladipo

Before the season began all anyone wanted to talk about on the Hoosiers was Cody Zeller. Now, many have shifted their attention from Zeller to the dynamic Oladipo. Oladipo is fun to watch, someone who can make spectacular moves against defenders and seems to play with a reckless abandon. He is an obscenely strong shooter, able to hit his shot from just about anywhere on the floor. He finds the open man, he fights for boards, he is just a fantastic basketball player in every way.

Best Potential Game: #1 Indiana vs. #8 North Carolina State

This Big Ten/ACC challenge game would be the best offering the East could give in Round Three. The Wolfpack never lived up to their preseason hype, which surprised no one but Wolfpack fans, but maybe their talent could finally show up in March. After all, they did make a run to the Sweet 16 last season. Both teams like to get up and down, with Indiana averaging 80 points per game, and the Wolfpack 77. Since NC State plays next to no defense, I wouldn't be shocked if the Hoosiers put up 100. C.J. Leslie against Cody Zeller would be a intriguing battle between two future pros.

Lowest Seed to Make It Through Weekend: #11 Bucknell

I think Muscala will make the difference and become a household name by Sunday. After leading them to a win over Butler, Muscala will give the Bison the necessary toughness to overcome Marquette in the Third Round.

Predictions

First Round

#16 LIU Brooklyn over #16 James Madison


Second Round

#1 Indiana over #16 LIU Brooklyn

#8 North Carolina State over #9 Temple

#12 California over #5 UNLV

#4 Syracuse over #13 Montana

#11 Bucknell over #6 Butler

#3 Marquette over #14 Davidson

#7 Illinois over #10 Colorado

#2 Miami over #15 Pacific


Third Round

#1 Indiana over #8 North Carolina State

#4 Syracuse over #12 California

#11 Bucknell over #3 Marquette

#2 Miami over #7 Illinois





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