Bracket Series pt. 3 (East Region)

Bracket Series 3- East Region

by Dwayne D.

Today on TSX, we are in the third installment of our Bracket Series coverage, this time covering the East Region.  So without further ado, lets take a look into the matchups.

1. Pittsburgh vs. 16 E. Tennessee State

– Pitt is experienced, hungry, and poised for a NCAA Final Four run, the Panthers are loaded with talent, and are led by Big East co-Player of the Year DaJuan Blair. For the Panthers to win this game and other games in the tournament, Blair will have to stay out of foul trouble, when he is in foul trouble, or fouls out, that’s when they are their most vulnerable. However, out of all the 16 seeds that have a remote chance (and very remote chance at that) of beating a 1 seed, it is ETSU. The Bucs have a great scorer in Kevin Tiggs, who is averaging 21.5 PPG, and also keep an eye on Courtney Pigram (17.6 PPG) and Mike Smith (15.5 PPG). If ETSU can get Blair into early foul trouble, we might have a close game in the 1st round.

8. Oklahoma State vs. 9. Tennessee

– Oklahoma State and Tennessee are two teams that are getting hot at the right time, and this seems to be pretty even at this point in time. In this one, I would have to go with Tennessee for the simple fact that Bruce Pearl always has his teams going at the right time, in March. Wayne Chism and Tyler Smith are the keys to Tennessee’s success, where as Byron Eaton is the Senior that’s the pulse of the Cowboys. At the end of the day, I’m rollin with the Vols, who will get dispatched by Pitt.

5. Florida State vs 12. Wisconsin

– Can anybody tell me how in the world did Wisconsin get in? Seriously? The Badgers were left for dead most of the season, and then they magically appear in the 65-team field, but it is what is. They are here now, but I don’t see a 12 over a 5 in this one, so I’m going with the ‘Noles. Although they lost to Duke in the ACC Championship game, they are focused, and they can knock off anybody on their good or bad days (Just ask the Tar Heels). Once Toney Douglas gets going, it’s a wrap. FSU moves on easily.

4. Xavier vs. 13. Portland State

– I have a potential upset alert from this region. Xavier is vulnerable, they have had some crippling losses (Duquesne, Charlotte, etc.) and Portland State is no slouch, these guys did beat a very good Gonzaga team. B.J. Raymond and Derek Brown will have to be on top of their game and out of foul trouble if they want any remote chance of victory in this game. Keep an eye on Jeremiah Dominguez and Dominic Waters. Once these kids go off, it’s going to be a lot closer than you think. The way they felt after winning the Big Sky was that they did not want another first round dispatch after what happened in last year’s tournament (lost to KU as a #16 seed)

6. UCLA vs. 11. Virginia Commonwealth

– Another major upset alert: Beware of the Commonwealth. UCLA has made the Final Four the past three years (2006-08), but I see them not even getting past the Rams of VCU. Last year VCU upset Duke, and they are definitely capable of pulling off another huge upset. Sure the Bruins have Darren Collison and Josh Shipp, but the Rams have a game changer in Eric Maynor. This kid is averaging 22.4 points and dishing out 6.2 assists per game, and he is a terrific 3-point shooter (36%). I expect a close game, but I’m rollin with VCU on the upset.

3. Villanova vs. 14. American

– I feel bad for American, simply because they have to essentially play a road game on a “neutral site”. Come on, we all know that Villanova plays their high-profile games at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia, so they are essentially playing a home game in the tournament. Talk about getting lucky. Just because of the advantage at home, I’m going with ‘Nova. Reynolds and Cunningham playing in front of the crowd will just motivate them to breeze to the Sweet 16.

7. Texas vs. 10. Minnesota

– How Minnesota (and Michigan) got in, I will never guess, but like Wisconsin, they are here, so let’s just get into the match up. The matchup I’m looking forward to the most is Dexter Pittman vs Ralph Sampson. Two Big Men just going at it and another good matchup will be Lawrence Westbrook vs.  A.J. Abrams. At the end of the day, Texas has more depth, and they will win the game.

2. Duke vs. 15. Binghamton

– The Bearcats are in their first tournament ever, and I think they will give Duke and early run, but Duke is playing in Greensboro, and Coach K will not have another VCU-like game last year.  The Blue Devils are a hot and cold team yes, but Gerald Henderson is a game changer.  His ability to fly through the air and make highlight-reel dunks and his leadership, and his outside shooting is a key. I do want to see how he will matchup with Binghamton’s leading scorer, D.J. Rivera. At the end of the day, Singler and Scheyer are just going to be too much and Binghamton will be too much in awe of being in the tournament to focus on winning.  Duke hands down.

Stay tuned tomorrow for the final region of matchups on TSX as we break down the South region.

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