East Region Preview
March 14, 2012 in Preview
Top four seeds: Syracuse, Ohio State, Florida State, Wisconsin
Sleepers: Vanderbilt, Kansas State
Best players: Kris Joseph (Syracuse), Jared Sullinger (OSU), Festus Ezeli (Vanderbilt), Yancy Gates (Cincy)
Best coaches: Jim Boeheim (Syracuse), Leonard Hamilton (FSU), Larry Eustachy (Southern Miss)
Best nickname: St. Bonaventure University Bonnies
Overview: If I had written this any time between Sunday night and Tuesday morning, I could have gone on and on about why Syracuse was not getting a fair shake by the media in their quest of winning the NCAA title. But once Fab Melo was declared ineligible, the Orange went from a great story to an impending disappointment. The bottom line is that Melo already has missed three games this year due to the same (supposed) academic ineligibility issue and the fact that he didn’t learn his lesson not only hurt himself but also a very proud university.
Sullinger is a beast and Ohio State, despite losing seven games, is a very, very good team. They play in the Big Ten, the best conference in the country (at least according to the RPI rankings) and won a third of the regular season title (with Michigan State and Michigan). Vanderbilt and Florida State are the sexy picks from this region and both toppled big obstacles (Kentucky and UNC, respectively) to win their conference tournament titles. Both teams rely on three-point shooting to win games, which is a very streaky way of winning. My bet is that they win some games and scare a few people, but when it’s all said and done, they won’t be marching to New Orleans.
Predicted Final Four Representative: The Ohio State University
After braving the tough Big 10 schedule, the NCAA tournament might seem like a cake walk to the Buckeyes. They’ll face tough competition, but they’ll be ready for it and will return to the Final Four for the first time since 2007.