3rd Part of our Regional Breakdown continues with the East Bracket:
Pittsburgh hails as the number one team in this region. The East Region is considered by some to be the weakest of the four in terms of the road to the Final Four. Following Pittsburgh are: (2) Duke, (3) Villanova, (4) Xavier, (5) Florida State, (6) UCLA, (7) Texas, (8) Oklahoma State, (9) Tennessee, (10) Minnesota, (11) VCU, (12) Wisconsin, (13) Portland State, (14) American, (15) SUNY (Binghamton), and (16) East Tennessee State.
Best Matchup Wisconsin vs. Florida State. Florida State lost three time this year to Duke and split matchups with North Carolina. Toney Douglas averages 21.3 ppg and is the ONLY player on the Noles roster to average in the double digits. Basically, if you can shut him down, their done. Overseeded in my mind. On the other hand, Wisconsin is a more balanced team with three players in the double digits and wins over Ohio State and Michigan in the last three weeks.
Biggest Lock. Pittsburgh over East Tennessee State. E. Tennessee State out of the Atlantic Sun conference winning 23 games this season. They have a loss to Temple earlier in the year by 14, so expect Pittsburgh to win by at least that many.
Home Cooking. Villanova gets to play American and the winner of UCLA/VCU in Philadelphia. Expect a huge crowd for Nova and a huge advantage to go with it.
Texas vs. Minnesota As a native Austinite, I have to admit that the Horns are one of my favorite teams and always will be. I have been lucky enough to attend almost every Longhorn game I have ever wanted to in my lifetime. This year's Texas squad is one that has struggled mightily. AJ Abrams is the sharpshooter with Dogus Balbay running the point. Justin Mason has not been the player they had hoped for, neither has Damion James or Connor Atchley (I call him the line killer. You do the math). Dexter Pittman has become the new face of the Horns, dominating down low and shooting with a touch that was non-existent last year.
The Horns are much like the Wildcats in that they can beat anyone if they are playing to their potential. They have struggled to put together those nights this year. The Horns identity is unknown. Runnin horns? Hardly. Dominant point guard? Gone are the days of T.J Ford and DJ Augustin. I think that the Horns will make it out of the first round, but a matchup against Duke will probably send them home. However, many people are saying the same thing about the Cats first round, then a sure loss to Wake. I think that Texas could make the Sweet 16 if they can glue it all together. We'll see. Make sure you check in with Burntorangenation.com and my good friends Peter Bean and Andrew Wiggins for more on the Horns. Hook'em!
Pac-10 Draw. UCLA draws a scary VCU team that beat Duke two years ago in the Tournament. Unfortunately, only one player remains on that VCU team, Eric Maynor. VCU's is going to have problems with the depth of UCLA. I expect a huge game from Shipp and Aboya, as they should be able to wear down the big men for VCU in no time. I also predict that UCLA won't be able to handle Nova in Philadelphia in the next round. Villanova comes out of the Big East with an impressive season including two wins over Syracuse and a win over Pittsburgh. They will be too much for UCLA to handle in Philadelphia.