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Bracket Breakdown: NCAA Tournament Predictions: East Region
- Updated: March 13, 2012
By: Kels Dayton
Having trouble filling out your bracket? You’ve come to the right place. Roundball Daily.com‘s college basketball expert Kels Dayton will take you region by region, outlining what’s possible and what’s not, so that you can make informed decisions. Because making informed decisions is the key to winning your pool. And winning your pool is the key to using the prize money to buy a giant, gold-plated sculpture of yourself that hangs triumphantly over your desk and proclaims your bracket domination over everyone in the office.
8-9 GAME: Southern Miss is a good-looking team that plays solid defense and has great balance, relying on six players who score at least 9 points per game.
Still, go with Kansas State. The Wildcats are bigger, more physical inside, and shoot a higher percentage from the floor. 6-11 center Jordan Henriquez will be the difference in the game, and the reason K-State has a chance to advance to the second weekend.
FIRST ROUND UPSETS: There are a few ways you can go when trying to decide which first-round upsets to choose here.
12th-seeded Harvard, coached by Tommy Amaker, is a candidate to knock off Vanderbilt because the Crimson play in-your-shorts defense and held the region’s 3 seed, Florida State to 41 points in a win over the Seminoles in November. Still, Vanderbilt has lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in each of its last three appearances (2008, 2010, 2011) and will be hungry to prove that they can advance in the NCAAs. The Commodores also boast one of the best shooting guards in the country in John Jenkins (19.9 ppg, 47.8 FG Pct), and are a much better offensive team, averaging 72.9 points per game compared to Harvard’s 65.4.
It would be surprising, but it’s not impossible for 14th-seeded Saint Bonaventure to send 3rd-seed Florida State home after the first round. The Bonnies have a pro in forward Andrew Nicholson (18.4 ppg, 8.5 rpg) and can fill it up, having scored over 80 points in a game on eight different occasions this season.
SECOND-ROUND UPSET PICKS:
Kansas State is a candidate to knock off Syracuse, Cincinnati has the potential to shoot over the top and outscore Florida State, and it’s not impossible to imagine West Virginia or Gonzaga taking out 2-seed Ohio State.
Vanderbilt has the star-power and perimeter scoring ability to knock off Syracuse (it just takes one great shooting game to oust the Orange–just ask Cincinnati or Notre Dame) and get to the Elite Eight. There, the Commodores could face Ohio State, who will almost certainly have too much muscle inside to take them out. But Florida State may have already done the dirty work for Vandy, knocking out Ohio State thanks to sharp-shooting Michael Snaer and some great interior defense.
FINAL FOUR CANDIDATES: Syracuse, Ohio State, Florida State, and Vanderbilt could all come out of this region if things break their way. Don’t bet on anyone else.
Stats courtesy of www.statsheet.com.