Fan-I Bracketology: East Region
The East region is intriguing because the best two teams are not the top two seeds. Virgina and Nova are the 1 and 2 seeds but Michigan State, Carolina, and UConn all have a good chance of winning the region.
Virginia surprised everyone this year with their emergence to the top of the ACC mountain. People still don't think they deserve the #1 seed but when you win the ACC regular season and tourney championship, you deserve it. 4 of the Cavs losses came against tournament teams but they are 17-3 in their last 20 games. UVA plays great defense, ranked #1 in scoring defense, but struggle to put up points at times. In their Wisconsin loss earlier this season they only scored 38 points(20 points at the half). Malcom Bragdon, who leads the team in scoring averaging 12.6ppg, is a solid player but I don't think he has that takeover mode you need in the big dance. Every team needs that one player that can just takeover in any game and UVA lacks that.
2nd weakest of the four regions but has great individual players.
Michigan State has been my Final Four favorite all season. They started the season off 18-1 before going 8-7 in their final 15 games. Injuries slowed them down but they are finally at full strength. Like Louisville, they are much better than their #4 seed but have a much easier road to the Final Four. Spartans might have the best backcourt in the country with Keith Appling and Gary Harris, both can takeover a game at any time and play perfectly together. Coach Izzo always has his teams ready for the big dance, no matter how good they are, but this has to be his best team in a long time.
- #13 seed Delaware - The Blue Hens have a solid big 3 and matches up well with the Spartans but they lack the depth, which could hurt them.
- #14 Seed North Carolina Central - The Eagles come into the tournament on a 20 game winning streak with 7 man rotation full of seniors and juniors. Experience is key.
Villanova might be the worst team out of all the #2 seeds in the tournament. Their 1st round loss to Seton Hall in the Big East tournament does not give me confidence that they will be a final four team. They have a weak schedule and was blowout by 2 other tournament teams, Creighton twice and Syracuse. Don't be surprised if Milwaukee sneak a win away from Nova in the 1st round.
Players to watch
Carolina caught fire at the right time. They went 0-3 in their first 3 ACC games and was 11-7 in the first 18 games but went on an 12 game winning streak before losing to Duke at Cameron Indoor in the season finale. Carolina also loss in the 1st round of the ACC tournament to Pitt, a game Roy Williams wishes to forget, but I still think they can go deep in this region, mainly because of Marcus Paige. The Tar Heels took a big hit when PJ Hariston was declared ineligible and later dismissed from the team, but Paige stepped up big time. Paige only averaged 8 points last season but this year he leads the Tar Heels in scoring, averaging 17 points a game. Don't forget they still have James Michael McAdoo still banging down bottom, averaging 14 points and 7 boards a game. All I can say is expect the Tar Heels to make noise.
Potential Game to Watch
- UVA v. Memphis 2nd round
- Cincy v Michigan State 2nd round
- UConn v Nova 2nd round
- UVA v. Michigan State Sweet 16
- North Carolina v. UConn Sweet 16
Region Winner: Michigan State