East Regional Preview: Sorry, but Hoosiers have no easy path
This one seems to be the toss-up region. Not in terms of a Final Four favorite; Indiana will run away with that and be picked in four out of five brackets. But for all the Round-of-64 and Round-of-32 matchups? You're going to notice a lot of disagreement. I think the East stands to have the best chance at the weirdest Sweet 16, Indiana's movement down the bracket aside.
This one seems to be the toss-up region. Not in terms of a Final Four favorite; Indiana Hoosiers will run away with that and be picked in four out of five brackets. But for all the Round-of-64 and Round-of-32 matchups? You're going to notice a lot of disagreement. I think the East stands to have the best chance at the weirdest Sweet 16, Indiana's movement down the bracket aside.
I cannot do justice in this space with telling you how much I love one particular matchup: Butler Bulldogs - Bucknell Bison . I have long loved Mike Muscala 's game. And while I think Butler is good, it definitely has deficiencies that could come to bite it here. Andrew Smith vs. Muscala will be a very nice matchup. And don't expect a lot of turnovers. Bucknell doesn't force many, and neither does Butler. This will be close. Expect a final somewhere in the neighborhood of 61-58.
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Elsewhere, almost every Round-of-64 game intrigues. Montana Grizzlies has Will Cherry to go up against Syracuse Orange / Michael Carter-Williams . Cherry's solid on D. NC State Wolfpack - Temple Owls will be the 8/9 game that nobody talks about that turns into the best one. Illinois Fighting Illini - Colorado Buffaloes could just get nuts if Colorado's defense can't control the pace.
Here's a breakdown of the East Regional:
THREE INITIAL THOUGHTS ON THE REGION
1. When Indiana doesn't make the Final Four, fans will lament not getting Indy.
I so very much enjoy what Tom Crean has built in Bloomington. I think Cody Zeller is actually, somehow, underrated at this point. Victor Oladipo has become the must-see player that college basketball needs every year. And yet, I don't think IU is getting out of this region. Had it been in Indy instead of D.C., then, yeah, definitely. And Hoosier fans will travel well, but nothing could compare to Lucas Oil being smothered in crimson.
Notice I said picks, not results. Big difference. Everyone's right in saying the Midwest is the toughest region. But if you hear the South or West is the most "wide open" of any, look again. Illinois Fighting Illini might be a trendy seven-over-two pick, with Miami having its doubters despite winning the ACC. California Golden Bears over UNLV Rebels could become chic since Vegas has never put together a run of games this season that made people believe. Montana over Syracuse, Butler into the Elite Eight, even NC State -- preseason favorite in the ACC -- could be an upset that some people go with.
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