Wednesday, March 19, 2014

2013 March Madness - East Region (First Weekend)

Best Game: #5 Cincinnati vs. #12 Harvard

The 5/12 upset has become one of the main talking points when people go to fill out their brackets. However, in recent seasons, while the talk hasn't faded, I feel like the instances of the 12 beating the 5 have gone down. That hasn't stopped people from immediately pegging this game as an easy pick for an upset. Harvard knocked off New Mexico last season as a 14 seed and is even better this year. Cincinnati had a good season but not many people have much respect for the AAC. Harvard plays great team basketball and doesn't have very many weaknesses. But one are where the Bearcats could overwhelm them is inside. Despite not having much more size than Harvard, the Bearcats ranked 106th in the nation in rebounds per game, while Harvard ranked 207th. Most of Cincinnati's offensive production comes form guard Sean Kilpatrick, who averaged 20 points per game. If Kilpatrick plays within the offense and doesn't try to force too many things, the Bearcats could wear down the Crimson. Harvard's best player is Ivy league player of the year Wesley Saunders. Saunders averaged 14 points per game but has been held in single digits scoring in three of his last five games. For Harvard to pull off the upset, Saunders will have to get back to being the scorer he was for most of the season.

Player to Watch: Iowa State guard DeAndre Kane

Kane is an exciting, fill up the box score type of player. I feel like anytime I saw Iowa State games or highlights this season, Kane's name was constantly being called and usually for only positive reasons. He is a high energy player that brings up the level of play of his teammates. Kane logs heavy minutes and along with F Melvin Ejim, and F Georges Niang gives the Cyclones of the best trios of scorers in the tournament.

Best Potential Game: #3 Iowa State vs. #6 North Carolina

This would not be a game for the faint of heart as both of these teams like to push the tempo and attempt to outscore their opponents. Both teams have good size, great guard play, and a matchup between these two teams could be the game of the tournament. Both teams are filled with star power, the Cyclones have Kane, Ejim, Dustin Hogue, and Niang, while the Heels have Marcus Paige, James Michael McAdoo, Brice Johnson, Leslie McDonald, and J.P. Tokoto. For the Heels to be able to pull the upset Paige will have to figure out a way to play strong basketball for two halves, as opposed to just the second half, which has been a habit of his for a while.

Lowest Seed to Make It Through the Weekend: #7 Connecticut

I'm predicting almost no upsets in this region which means there will probably be a ton of them. However, if things go the way I expect them to, the only true surprise to emerge out of the first weekend in the East will be the Connecticut Huskies. Their matchup against St. Joseph's will be a tough one but if they can get past them, I really like them going up against former Big East conference mate Villanova. The Wildcats have an impressive record but remained largely under the radar all season. When they did face a tougher team, such as Creighton, they were blown out on each occasion by the Blue Jays. Guard play is especially critical in March and that is where the Huskies will have a distinct advantage with all everything player Shabazz Napier.

Second Round

#1 Virginia over #16 Coastal Carolina

#8 Memphis over #9 George Washington

#5 Cincinnati over #12 Harvard

#4 Michigan State over #13 Delaware

#6 North Carolina over #11 Providence

#3 Iowa State over #14 North Carolina Central

#7 Connecticut over #10 Saint Joseph's

#2 Villanova over #15 Milwaukee

Third Round

#1 Virginia over #8 Memphis

#4 Michigan State over #5 Cincinnati

#3 Iowa State over #6 North Carolina

#7 Connecticut over #2 Villanova

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