Tuesday, March 19, 2013

March Madness Breakdown: East Region

Cody Zeller leads a complete, yet inconsistent Hoosier team.
Top Seeds

1 – Indiana
2 – Miami
 3 – Marquette
 4 – Syracuse

The Rest

5 – UNLV
6 – Butler
7 – Illinois
8 – NC State
9 – Temple
10 – Colorado
11 –Bucknell
12 – Temple
13 – Montana
14 – Davidson
15 – Pacific
16 – Long Island University -Brooklyn/James Madison University

All the preseason #1 Hoosiers had to do was win the Big Ten conference tournament and they had the #1 overall tournament seed and a spot in the Midwest Region hosted in Indianapolis. Indiana has spent over half the season(10 out of 19 weeks) ranked #1 in the country. Behind leading scorer sophomore F Cody Zeller the Hoosiers are a deep and talented team.  Junior guard Victor Oladipo is as complete a player in college basketball and can affect the game equally on the offensive and defensive end. Indiana faces a potentially difficult game in the 2nd round against NC State who has the talent to match the Hoosiers but have lacked consistent effort this year.

Miami burst onto the college hoops scene after a dominating performance against then #1 Duke in January. Led by do everything guard Shane Larkin Miami strikes with a three guard lineup but also has 6’11” big man Kenny Kadji. Hurricanes are led by head coach Jim Larranaga who took George Mason to the Final Four in 2006 at the same regional site in Washington DC.

Marquette tied for first place in the Big East regular season standings and has been playing well lately led by guard Vander Blue. The Golden Eagles have back to back Sweet Sixteen appearances under head coach Buzz Williams, but in order to make it three in row they will likely need to get past Butler a team that beat them in the regular season in November.

Syracuse ended the regular season winning only three of their last eight, but then rolled off three victories in a row and held a 16 point lead on Louisville in the second half of the Big East tournament championship game. ‘Cuse primarily deploy a 2-3 zone defensively and do a terrific job of using their length to diminish shooting lanes. The zone occasionally results in the Orange getting bounced early by a hot shooting team from outside (#13 Vermont-2005, #12 Texas A&M-2006 and #11 Marquette –2011)

Don’t sleep on NC State. A preseason top 10 team with reason, the Wolfpack have three NBA caliber players in juniors F CJ Leslie, G Lorenzo Brown and freshman G Rodney Purvis. Look for NC State to handle Temple in round one and push Indiana to the brink in round two. Plus we might get to see another Braveheart reenactment, which is always a plus.

The Picks

Sweet Sixteen: Indiana over UNLV and Miami over Marquette

Elite Eight: Indiana over Miami

Until next time, Beers, Brats, and Championships.

Neal Olson (

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