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2012 NCAA Tournament Bracket: Breaking Down The East Regional

Finalfour_medium_medium East Regional General Information:

Regional Site: Boston Massachusetts - TD Garden

Conference Tournament Champions: 7

At Large Teams: 9

Power Conference Teams: 9

Mid Majors: 7

Pods: Pittsburgh, Albuquerque, Nashville

Interesting Facts:

  • Vanderbilt has lost to a double-digit seed in each of its past three tournament appearances (No. 12 once, No. 13 twice).
  • Conference USA (Southern Miss.) have not won a game in each of the last two tournaments.
  • Montana claims the last victory for a Big Sky Conference team with their upset win over sixth seeded Nevada in 2005.
  • Harvard has the opportunity to play just a few short miles from home if they can navigate their way to the Sweet 16 in Boston.

Team Capsules

#1 Seed Syracuse Orange


Bid: At Large, Big East

Location: Syracuse N.Y.

Record: 31-2

KenPom Adj. Offensive Efficiency: 14th Nationally (116.1)

KenPom Adj. Defensive Efficiency: 15th Nationally (88.9)

Player to Know: Kris Joseph

Syracuse ran through a difficult Big East with just one loss on the regular season before falling in the tournament semifinals. The Orange are known this year for their defensive effort and that has long been the calling card for Jim Boeheim and his matchup 2-3 zone. This year they have a big man in the middle that really takes that defense to another level and that is Fab Melo. In general this is a very good team, but as you can see they aren't necessarily

#2 Seed Ohio State Buckeyes


Bid: At-Large, Big 10

Location: Columbus Ohio

Record: 27 - 7

KenPom Adj. Offensive Efficiency: 7th

KenPom Adj. Defensive Efficiency: 1st

Player to Know: Jared Sullinger

The Buckeyes are the second team from the Big 10 in terms of seeding and they were very much in the mix heading into Sunday's Big 10 Tournament final with Michigan State. The loss ultimately dropped them to a two line but when they are on this is a very good team and one of the best defensive teams nationally. On top of that they are battle tested having played in one of the most difficult conferences in the country and testing themselves in the non-con schedule as well. A matchup between Syracuse and Ohio State would be a very interesting battle.

#3 Seed Florida State Seminoles


Bid: Automatic Bid, ACC Conference

Location: Tallahassee Florida


KenPom Adj. Offensive Efficiency: 63

KenPom Adj. Defensive Efficiency:14

Player to Know: Michael Snaer

Florida State is a hot name at the moment after beating both Duke and North Carolina on their path to the ACC Championship. Michael Snaer has made a habit of knocking down big shots late and while they aren't a great team offensively, they have some good length on the interior and can give teams trouble with their perimeter defense as well. While their overall record doesn't jump off the page necessarily, the Seminoles are another team that is battle tested against some of the top teams in the country and they've won their fair share of those contests. As far as three seeds go, Florida State could be the best in the tournament.

#4 Seed Wisconsin Badgers

Wiscy_medium Bid: At Large, Big 10

Location: Madison Wisconsin

Record: 24-9

KenPom Adj. Offensive Efficiency: 24

KenPom Adj. Defensive Efficiency: 4

Player to Know: Jordan Taylor

You know the Wisconsin story. Sound defensive team that really maximizes every possession offensively and as a fan they tend to bore you to death. Still it's a style that has worked for the Badgers and they are once again in a good position heading into the tournament. This team probably isn't as good as some of the recent incarnations, but that could just be a perception based on a more competitive Big 10. I would say they are certainly a team that could sneak up and make some noise if they can get on a roll.

#5 Seed Vanderbilt Commodores

Vanderbilt_mediumBid: Automatic Bid, SEC Tournament Champion

Location: Nashville, TN

Record: 24-10

KenPom Adj. Offensive Efficiency: 17

KenPom Adj. Defensive Efficiency: 31

Player to Know: John Jenkins

Vanderbilt was a hot name heading into the season and then they fell off during the non conference. After losing three of four at one point, the Commodores seemed to be an afterthought, at least as much as a team of their potential could be. While they were never a real threat to miss the tournament they are probably far more capable than a five might normally be. Having finished second in the SEC, Vanderbilt finally got over the hump and upset Kentucky in the tournament final. That was a big momentum swing for Vandy, now they just have to avoid the letdown after climbing what was clearly a huge mountain for them.

#6 Seed Cincinnati Bearcats


Bid: At Large, Big East

Location: Cincinnati Ohio

Record: 24-10

KenPom Adj. Offensive Efficiency:51

KenPom Adj. Defensive Efficiency:27

Player to Know: Yancy Gates

Cincinnati made a run all the way to the Big East finals before falling to Louisville. That run came on the heels of a season that started with a fight watched around the world and ended with a decent but not great finish in the Big East. The Bearcats have several pieces in place that have experience at this level and that could prove invaluable in the tournament.

#7 Seed Gonzaga Bulldogs

Bid: At Large, WCC

Location: Spokane Washington

Record: 25-6

KenPom Adj. Offensive Efficiency:42

KenPom Adj. Defensive Efficiency:35

Player to Know: Robert Sacre

This isn't quite the same Gonzaga team that we've grown accustomed to. At the moment St. Mary's seems to be the top dog in the WCC, but that doesn't mean Gonzaga isn't dangerous. They just aren't a fringe no. 2 seed like they were in their prime. Still they have some very solid guard play and legitimate size on the interior that can compete with most anyone. These Bulldogs would be a fun matchup to watch against Ohio State in the second round.

#8 Seed Kansas State Wildcats


Bid: At-large, Big 12

Location: Manhattan Kansas

Record: 21-10

KenPom Adj. Offensive Efficiency:44

KenPom Adj. Defensive Efficiency: 17

Player to Know: Rodney McGruder

Frank Martin has his team back in the tournament despite losing one of the better Wildcats in recent memory in Jacob Pullen. Kansas State knocked off a No. 2 seeded Missouri team twice during the regular season and finished 5th in a tough Big 12 Conference. An early exit in the Big 12 tournament to Baylor probably hurt the seeding a bit but Kansas State is right about where they should be all things considered. Frank Martin's teams play tough, physical basketball but it will be interesting to see how much fight they have left this year.

#9 Seed Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles


Bid: At-large, Conference USA

Location:Hattiesburg Mississippi

Record: 25-8

KenPom Adj. Offensive Efficiency:45

KenPom Adj. Defensive Efficiency:128

Player to Know:Neil Watson

The Golden Eagles started the season strong before limping down the stretch which has really seemed to kill the expectations surrounding this team. Still the Golden Eagles finished second in the Conference USA behind Memphis before losing in the conference tournament semifinals to Marshall. Southern Miss does have wins over several other bubble type teams including Colorado State and South Florida but it will really depend on if they can return to their early season form heading into the NCAA tournament.

#10 Seed West Virginia Mountaineers


Bid: At Large, Big East

Location: Morgantown West Virginia

Record: 19-13

KenPom Adj. Offensive Efficiency:35

KenPom Adj. Defensive Efficiency: 17

Player to Know: Kevin Jones

West Virginia claims one of the top individual players in the Big East, but they still struggled to a 19-13 overall record and at one point went on a 2-7 stretch during conference play. Fortunately for the Mountaineers the Big East gets a tremendous amount of credit so Bob Huggins has his team in the tournament despite finishing eighth in the league this year.

#11 Seed Texas Longhorns

Texas_medium Bid: At-large, Big 12

Location: Austin Texas

Record: 20-13

KenPom Adj. Offensive Efficiency: 23

KenPom Adj. Defensive Efficiency:48

Player to Know: J'Covan Brown

Texas finished 6th in the Big 12 Conference and they are the 6th Big 12 team in the field. A win over 3rd seeded Iowa State in the Big 12 tournament seemed to clinch the at large for the Longhorns before losing to Missouri for a 3rd time. For Texas it's a situation where they have been competitive at times, but they haven't been able to get over the hump against a really strong opponent which doesn't make them feel like a very serious threat to go far in the tournament.

#12 Seed Harvard Crimson


Bid: Automatic, Ivy League

Location: Boston Mass

Record: 26-4

KenPom Adj. Offensive Efficiency:71

KenPom Adj. Defensive Efficiency:30

Player to Know: Keith Wright

Tommy Amaker has the Crimson playing their best basketball in years. For the first time since the 40's, the Crimson are in the tournament and as a twelve seed they could be a prime candidate when evaluating potential upset bids. Harvard is very deliberate offensively and fairly efficient on the defensive end which is a model that has definitely worked for mid majors in the past.

#13 Seed Montana Grizzlies

Montana_medium Bid: Automatic, Big Sky

Location: Missoula Montana

Record: 25-6

KenPom Adj. Offensive Efficiency:156

KenPom Adj. Defensive Efficiency:42

Player to Know: Will Cherry

Montana is a good defensive team and they might bring the longest active winning streak into the tournament having not lost since early January. That's not to say they are going to win in the first game of the tournament, but if I'm looking for potential 13 seed upset picks, this would be one I might consider given what they've accomplished albeit in the Big Sky.

#14 Seed St. Bonaventure Bonnies


Bid: Automatic - Atlantic 10

Location: St. Bonaventure New York

Record: 20-11

KenPom Adj. Offensive Efficiency: 38

KenPom Adj. Defensive Efficiency: 88

Player to Know: Andrew Nicholson

The Bonnies finished third in one of the more difficult mid major leagues this season the Atlantic 10. Overall the league put four teams in the tournament, but the Bonnies punched their ticket by winning the league tournament with a win over Xavier. St. Bonaventure was likely on the outside looking in prior to that win, but now they get a new lease on life and it gives everyone an opportunity to watch Andrew Nicholson who is a pretty talented player.

#15 Seed Loyola Greyhounds


Bid: Automatic, Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference

Location: Baltimore Maryland

Record: 24-8

KenPom Adj. Offensive Efficiency: 123

KenPom Adj. Defensive Efficiency: 262

Player to Know: Erik Etherly

I don't know, sure wish this was our 15 seed personally. Loyola didn't win their league and they didn't have to beat the top team to win their tournament. They did finish second so they aren't coming from completely out of nowhere, but they don't have the talent like a certain other 15 seed.

#16 Seed UNC Asheville Bulldogs


Bid: Automatic, Big South

Location: Asheville North Carolina

Record: 24-9

KenPom Adj. Offensive Efficiency:68

KenPom Adj. Defensive Efficiency:199

Player to Know: JP Primm

I would call this a moderately intriguing No. 16 seed. Doesn't matter though, Syracuse runs over them.

The Matchups

#1 Syracuse vs #16 UNC Asheville

What To Watch: How does Syracuse respond coming off of a loss. Focus will be interesting.

UNC Asheville Will Win If: Not going to happen.

Syracuse Will Win If: They show up.

#8 Kansas State vs. #9 Southern Miss

What To Watch: Which team shows up for each side. Both have been good and bad at different times.

Kansas State Will Win If: Rodney McGruder is one and the Wildcats backcourt takes care of the basketball.

Southern Miss Will Win If: Can return to their early season form. Eustashy's group has struggled of late.

#5 Vanderbilt vs. #12 Harvard

What To Watch: Does Vanderbilt experience a letdown after getting over the hump against Kentucky.

Vandy Will Win If: John Jenkins and Jordan Taylor continue their strong play.

Harvard Will Win If: They can slow it down and remain effective offensively on the interior.

#4 Wisonsin vs. #13 Montana

What To Watch: Can Montana get out and speed up the game.

Wisconsin Will Win If: They can dictate the style of the game.

Montana Will Win If: They can stay hot from beyond the arc, get a lead and force Wisky to speed up the pace.

#6 Cincinnati vs #11 Texas

What To Watch: Does Texas have what it takes to get over the hump against a good team in the clutch.

Cincinnati Will Win If: They can bother an inexperienced Texas team with a scrappy Bearcat defense.

Texas Will Win If: J'Covan Brown explodes.

#3 Florida State vs. #14 St. Bonaventure

What To Watch: Andrew Nicholson, great player at a small program and people aren't aware of him.

Florida State Will Win If: Capitalize on Bonnie turnovers and shoot well from outside.

Bonnies Will Win If: They take better care of the basketball and Nicholson makes a name for himself.

#7 Gonzaga vs. #10 West Virginia

What To Watch: Kevin Jones, best single individual player in the bracket?

Gonzaga Will Win If: They can slow Jones and avoid a slump offensively.

West Virginia Will Win If: Kevin Jones assumes a leadership role in the tournament and they avoid a shooting slump. They have been bad at times.

#2 Ohio State vs. #15 Loyola MD

What To Watch: Do the Buckeyes look like a team ready to gel

Ohio State Will Win If: Shouldn't be an issue here.

Loyola Will Win If: Just not seeing it.

RCT Predictions

Most Likely to Pull an Upset: Montana Grizzlies

Most Likely to Pull a Surprise Run: West Virginia

Final Four Favorite: Syracuse

Underseeded: West Virginia

Overseeded: Wisconsin

Best Team No One Knows About: Harvard