Breaking Down the Brackets: East Regional Preview

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East Regional General Information:

Regional Site: Carrier Dome, Syracuse, New York

Conference Tournament Champions:  8 (+1)

At Large Teams:  7

Power Conference Teams:  9

Mid Majors:  7

Pods: San Jose, CA New Orleans, LA Jacksonville, FLA Buffalo, NY

Interesting Facts: 

  • Kentucky has a chance to pass North Carolina on the all-time tournament wins list.
  • Washington is the lowest seeded BCS conference team in the tournament.

Team Capsules

#1 Seed Kentucky Wildcats

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Bid: Automatic- SEC Tournament Champion

Location: Lexington, Ky

Record:32-2

KenPom Adj. Offensive Efficiency:18

KenPom Adj. Defensive Efficiency:10

Key Offensive Stat: Off Reb% (7)

Key Defensive Stat: eFG% (8)

Player to Know: DeMarcus Cousins

John Calipari has Kentucky back as a top seed this year after not making the tournament in 2009.  Kentucky was also ranked #1 in the polls this season, they even have the t-shirts to prove it.  John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, and Patrick Patterson are their three leading scorers.  Cousins is one of the most dominant rebounders in the nation and averages 10 rebounds per game.  Wall is one of the most athletic and dominant freshmen you'll see.  They do struggle at the free throw line, only making 67.5% of their shots.

#2 Seed West Virginia Mountaineers

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Bid: Automatic- Big East Tournament Champion

Location: Morgantown, W. Va

Record: 27-6

KenPom Adj. Offensive Efficiency: 11

KenPom Adj. Defensive Efficiency: 24

Key Offensive Stat: Off Reb% (2)

Key Defensive Stat: Def Reb% (90)

Looking at West Virginia's numbers makes it pretty easy to see where Frank Martin picked up a lot his basketball philosophy.  They attack the offensive glass and they get to the line a lot (3rd in the Big East).  Da 'Sean Butler is their leading scorer at 17.4 ppg.  Kevin Jones and Devin Ebanks are their leading rebounders with Jones grabbing 3.5 offensive boards a game.

#3 Seed New Mexico Lobos

Bid: At Large

Location: Albuquerque, N.M.Lobos_medium

Record: 29-4

KenPom Adj. Offensive Efficiency:  21

KenPom Adj. Defensive Efficiency:  87

Key Offensive Stat: TO% (15)

Key Defensive Stat: Def Reb% (5)

Player to Know: Darington Hobson

New Mexico is without a doubt (in my mind) the most questionable #3 seed of the tournament and may be the most over-seeded team of the tournament.  They are the #47 team in the nation according to the Pomeroy ratings and maybe they'll prove me wrong, but Marquette and Washington have to love their draw.  The Lobos gave up almost a point per possession in the Mountain West and allowed a 49.4 eFG% by their opponents.  Their star player is for real though, Darington Hobson leads the Lobos in points, assists, and rebounds.  Their most impressive win came in December against Texas A&M.

#4 Seed Wisconsin Badgers

Bid: At Large Wiscy_medium

Location: Madison, WI

Record: 23-8

KenPom Adj. Offensive Efficiency: 13

KenPom Adj. Defensive Efficiency: 7

Key Offensive Stat: TO% (3)

Key Defensive Stat: Def Reb% (1)

Player to Know: Trevon Hughes

Wisconsin's back in the Big Dance and ready to share Big 10 basketball with the world.  Wisconsin is a good example of how tempo-free numbers can provide valuable insight.  They were 7th in the Big 10 in points per game this year (64.2 ppg) but were the most efficient offensively scoring 1.11 points per possession.  Bo Ryan's teams never play fast and this year it is almost comical, they averaged 58 possessions per game in conference play.  They shoot a fair amount of 3's and 34% of their points come from threes.  They also defend the 3 pt line well and allow a low number of 3 pt attempts.  It would be very interesting to watch these guys get a crack at Kentucky.

#5 Seed Temple Owls

Bid: Automatic- A-10 Tournament Champion Temple_medium

Location:  Philadelphia, PA

Record: 29-5

KenPom Adj. Offensive Efficiency:  77

KenPom Adj. Defensive Efficiency: 3

Key Offensive Stat: TO% (20)

Key Defensive Stat: Def eFG% (1)

Player to Know: Ryan Brooks

Temple enters the NCAA tournament on a pretty good hot streak, winning their last 10 games.  Temple relies on a slow pace and solid defense.  They allowed a little over .92 points per possession in conference play this season and scored at a decent clip (1.07 ppp).  Temple doesn't shoot for a great percentage but mixes in just enough 3's to balance it out.  They don't turn the ball over a lot or cause a lot of turnovers.  They also don't foul, so their opponents have to work for all of the points they score.

#6 Seed Marquette Golden Eagles

Bid: At Large Marquette_medium

Location: Milwaukee, WI

Record: 22-11

KenPom Adj. Offensive Efficiency: 22

KenPom Adj. Defensive Efficiency:48

Key Offensive Stat: TO% (5)

Key Defensive Stat: FTA/FGA (24)

Player to Know: Lazar Hayward

Marquette slumped early in conference play starting 2-6 and looking like they might miss the NCAA tournament.  They got it together to win eleven of their last fourteen games.  They like to shoot threes (4th most in Big East play) and make 39% of them.  The Golden Eagles aren't a great rebounding team and only grabbed 47% of the rebounds in Big East play.  Lazar Hayward is their leading scorer and rebounder.  Darius Johnson-Odom shot 47% from behind the arc on the year.

#7 Seed Clemson Tigers

Bid: At Large Clemson_medium

Location: Clemson, S.C.

Record: 21-10

KenPom Adj. Offensive Efficiency: 47

KenPom Adj. Defensive Efficiency: 9

Key Offensive Stat: Off Reb% (53)

Key Defensive Stat: TO% (8)

Player to Know: Trevor Booker

The Clemson Tigers enter the tournament with a tough defense and average offense.  Trevor Booker leads the Tigers in points per game (15.3) and rebounds per game (8.3).  Key wins include two victories over Florida State and a win at home against Maryland.

#8 Seed Texas Longhorns

Bid: At Large Texas_medium

Location: Austin, TX

Record: 24-9

KenPom Adj. Offensive Efficiency: 26

KenPom Adj. Defensive Efficiency: 26

Key Offensive Stat: Off Reb% (15)

Key Defensive Stat: Def eFG%  (27)

Player to Know: Damion James

Texas joins the tournament as an #8 seed after being ranked #1 in both polls earlier in the year.  They've fallen out of the polls after losing 9 of their last 16 games this season.  Damion James and Avery Bradley are their leading scorers.  James is also their leading rebounder, averaging a little over 10 a game.  Texas might be the most talented 8 seed in some time, they just haven't found a way to convert that talent into winning basketball games lately.

#9 Seed Wake Forest Deamon Deacons

Bid: At Large  Wake_medium

Location: Winston-Salem, N.C.

Record: 19-10

KenPom Adj. Offensive Efficiency: 96

KenPom Adj. Defensive Efficiency: 25

Key Offensive Stat: Off Reb% (22)

Key Defensive Stat: eFG% (4)

Player to Know: Al-Farouq Aminu

Wake Forest enters the field with only 19 wins but got credited for going 6-4 against RPI top 50 teams.  Offensively, the Deacons only shoot for a 47.4 eFG% and a 31% from three point land.  They rely on their defense, holding opponents under a point per possession and only allowing a 47.4 eFG% for opponents.

#10 Seed Missouri Tigers

Bid: At Large Mizzou_medium

Location: Columbia, MO

Record: 22-10

KenPom Adj. Offensive Efficiency: 50

KenPom Adj. Defensive Efficiency: 12

Key Offensive Stat: TO% (50)

Key Defensive Stat: TO% (3)

Player to Know: Kim English

Missouri is the second Big 12 team in the East Regional, they have struggled offensively since losing Justin Safford to injury.  Missouri wants to play full court defense and force their opponent to either turn the ball over or take a quick shot.  Not surprisingly, they lead the Big 12 in TO% and steal% this year.  They're balanced offensively with six players averaging between 8 and 13 points a game.  If they can score some points early and get their press set up, they can give themselves an opportunity to knock out a Huggins team early.

#11 Seed Washington Huskies

Bid: Automatic- PAC 10 Tournament Champion Washington_medium

Location: Seattle, WA

Record: 24-9

KenPom Adj. Offensive Efficiency: 32

KenPom Adj. Defensive Efficiency: 38

Key Offensive Stat: Off Reb% (35)

Key Defensive Stat: eFG% (65)

Player to Know: Quincy Pondexter

The Washington Huskies entered the tournament after winning the PAC 10 tournament and winning seven games in a row.  Washington averages 1.07 points per possession and allows .99 per possession.  They're led in scoring (19.8 ppg) and rebounding (7.5 rpg) by Quincy Pondexter.  Isaiah Thomas is second in scoring at 17.1 ppg.  Washington was great at getting to the foul line in conference play and drew the most fouls of any team in the PAC 10.

#12 Seed Cornell Big Red

Bid: Automatic- Ivy League Champion Cornell_medium

Location: Ithaca, NY

Record: 27-4

KenPom Adj. Offensive Efficiency: 28

KenPom Adj. Defensive Efficiency: 139

Key Offensive Stat: eFG% (3)

Key Defensive Stat: Off Reb% (67)

Player to Know: Ryan Wittman

The Big Red enter the tournament on a seven game winning streak after falling to the Penn Quakers in the middle of February.  Earlier in the season, they came into Allen Field House and gave the Jayhawks all they wanted.  Cornell loves shooting three pointers and for good reason, they're really good at it.  In Ivy Leage play they shot an amazing 45% from behind the arc.  They have five players that have shot at least 40 threes this year and only one of those shot under 40% and he was at 39%.  Ryan Wittman is their best shooter and scorer, averaging 17.4 ppg and shooting 42% for threes.

#13 Seed Wofford Terriers

Bid: Automatic- Southern League Tournament Champion Wofford_medium

Location: Spartanburg, S.C.

Record: 26-8

KenPom Adj. Offensive Efficiency: 149

KenPom Adj. Defensive Efficiency: 56

Key Offensive Stat: FTA/FGA (40)

Key Defensive Stat: Def Reb% (38)

Player to Know: Noah Dahlman

The Wofford Terriers won both the SoCon's regular season and tournament championships this season.  They are a strong defensive team, allowing only .93 points per possession and a 46.5 eFG%.  The Terriers are led in scoring by Noah Dahlman who averages 16.8 points per game.  They also forced their conference opponents to turn the ball over 22% of their possessions.

#14 Seed Montana

Bid: Automatic- Big Sky Tournament Champion Montana_medium

Location: Missoula, Mont.

Record: 22-9

KenPom Adj. Offensive Efficiency: 110

KenPom Adj. Defensive Efficiency: 121

Key Offensive Stat: eFG% (16)

Key Defensive Stat: Def Reb% (47)

Player to Know: Anthony Johnson

The Grizzlies finished tied for third in the conference regular season but pulled out the win against Weber State in the Big Sky tournament.  They're led in scoring by Anthony Johnson who averages 19.6 ppg and he is their only player that averages double figures.  Montana did score efficiently this year, they averaged 1.12 ppp  and a 58.2 eFG% in Big Sky play.

#15 Seed Morgan State Bears

Bid: Automatic- MEAC Tournament Champion Morgan_state_medium

Location: Baltimore, MD

Record: 27-9

KenPom Adj. Offensive Efficiency: 136

KenPom Adj. Defensive Efficiency: 190

Key Offensive Stat: Off Reb% (11)

Key Defensive Stat: Def eFG% (73)

Player to Know: Reggie Holmes

Morgan State plowed through the MEAC in the regular season this year, going 15-1.  Reggie Holmes is their leading scorer, averaging 21.8 ppg.  Kevin Thompson averages a double-double on the season with 12.8 ppg and 11.9 rebounds per game.

#16 Seed East Tennessee State Buccaneers

Bid: Automatic- Atlantic Sun Tournament Champion East_tenn_medium

Location: Johnson City, TN

Record: 20-14

KenPom Adj. Offensive Efficiency: 196

KenPom Adj. Defensive Efficiency: 88

Key Offensive Stat: Off Reb% (62)

Key Defensive Stat: TO% (14)

Player to Know: Tommy Hubbard

East Tennessee State enters the tournament after winning their last 7 games.  They're led in scoring (14.1 ppg) and rebounding (8.3 rpg) by Tommy Hubbard.  The Buccaneers were the most efficient defensive team in the Atlantic Sun, only allowing .93 points per possession.  Best win on the year came against College of Charleston (91 RPI).

The Matchups

#1 Kentucky vs. #16 East Tennessee State

What To Watch:  Don't.  Just hope you have access to a better game.  Cousins, Wall, and Patterson will put on a clinic in this game.

East Tennessee State Will Win If:  they're patient.  It might take three years but history has shown us that they have a good shot at getting a win in the record books.

Kentucky Will Win If:  They show up.

Player to Watch:  Patrick Patterson is my pick to keep an eye on when watching Kentucky.  Wall and Cousins are going to be important but Patterson having a very good tournament will make Kentucky a real threat to the National Title.

#8 Texas vs. #9 Wake Forest

What To Watch:  Can Texas figure it out?  That's the real question going into this game.  If Texas plays well, they win and can give Kentucky a scare.  If they stand around and jack 3's, they'll be home after the first day.

Wake Forest Will Win If:  Texas stands around on offense, ignores Dexter Pittman, and allows easy baskets on defense.

Texas Will Win If:  They use Pittman and lock down on defense.  This is Texas' game to lose, however that's been the case for the 2nd half of the season and they've still lost more than they've won.

Player to Watch:  Damion James.  No matter how bad Texas has looked this year there aren't many players in his league.  He can rebound and attack the basket with the best of them and if his shot is on, look out.

#5 Temple vs. #12 Cornell

What To Watch:  Great shooting team (Cornell) against a great defensive team.  This should be a great first round matchup.

Temple Will Win If:  They can limit open 3 point looks for Cornell.  Temple's defense ranked first in eFG% allowed and second in 3 pt% allowed this season.  Cornell lives on the 3.

Cornell Will Win If:  They hit their 3's.  Their defense isn't that strong but that works out ok for them because Temple isn't a strong offensive team.

Player to Watch:  Ryan Wittman.  A great three point shooter who put up 24 points against Kansas earlier this year.  If he gets hot, Cornell wins the game.

#4 Wisconsin vs. #13 Wofford

What To Watch:  If you're forced to watch this game or just want to watch what a game looked like in the 1950's, watch Wisconsin.  They don't go for a lot of steals so they're always in good position to rebound and don't commit a lot of fouls.  Despite my jabs at their pace, it is enjoyable to watch a well coached and disciplined team play.

Wofford Will Win If:  It's not likely but if they can string together some threes, they might have a shot.  One of the drawbacks of playing at such a slow pace is that it allows the other team to stay within striking distance most of the time.

Wisconsin Will Win If:  They show upWisconsin is a very good team and they rarely beat themselves, so this one should be a comfortable win for them.

Player to Watch:  Jason Bohannon.  He's not as good of a scorer as Hughes but he plays 36 minutes a game and sports an eFG% of 61.

#6 Marquette vs. #11 Washington

What To Watch:  Three point shooting and rebounding.  Marquette shoots threes well and when they do they're tough.  However, they don't rebound all that well and Washington was 35th in the nation in offensive rebound percentage.

Marquette Will Win If:  They hit their threes.

Washington Will Win If:  They can get out and run.  Washington has been successful the last couple of weeks when they have been pushing the tempo.  If this gets over 68 possessions, I'm picking Washington.

Player to Watch:  Quincy Pondexter for Washington.  He scores and rebounds well, he could be the key against a mediocre to poor rebounding Marquette.

#3 New Mexico vs. #14 Montana

What To Watch:  Rebounds.  New Mexico is a very good defensive rebounding team, if they keep Montana away from getting easy baskets this shouldn't be much of a game.

Montana Will Win If:  Not likely but if they can catch fire and rain threes they'll have a shot.  New Mexico's not a great defensive team, so there's always a possibility.

New Mexico Will Win If:  They continue to take care of the basketball and continue to grab defensive rebounds.  They got a gift here, they better take advantage of it.

Player to Watch:  Anthony Johnson of Montana.  He has an offensive rating of 119 for the year and shoots 87% from the free throw line.

#7 Clemson vs. #10 Missouri

What To Watch:  Turnovers.  Both teams force their opponents to turn the ball over a high percentage of the time.

Clemson Will Win If:  They take care of the basketball.  Avoid giving Missouri easy baskets and Clemson is in great shape.

Missouri Will Win If:  They find a way to make a few baskets early and can get into the full-court press.  If they struggle early and go back to jacking 3's, it will be a long day for the Tigers.

Player to Watch:  Laurence Bowers.  Somebody for Mizzou has to hit a few shots and Clemson will do their best to keep it from being English, so Bowers needs to step up.

#2 West Virginia vs. #15 Morgan State

What To Watch:  West Virginia attacking the offensive glass.

Morgan State Will Win If:  It's not likely but Bob Huggins does seem to have a tournament monkey on his back.  If they can keep it close, maybe West Virginia will tense up and give it away.

West Virginia Will Win If:  They attack the offensive boards and stay away from picking up cheap fouls as they do it.

Player to Watch:  Da 'Sean Butler is a stud and is always worth watching.

 

RCT Predictions

Most Likely to Pull an Upset:  Cornell

Most Likely to Pull a Surprise Run:  Washington.  If they can get past Marquette, they've got an over-seeded New Mexico waiting in the 2nd round.

Final Four Favorite:  Kentucky.

Underseeded: Cornell

Overseeded: New Mexico

Best Team No One Knows About:  Cornell, again.

Bonus: Worst Team Everyone Knows About: Texas

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