Andy Lyons

Andy Lyons

Finally, Selection Sunday has come and gone, and the madness can finally begin. The East region features one of the most exciting teams in the country carrying it on the one line, Indiana, along with constant Cinderella thought Butler. The East is tough from top to bottom, and the team coming out of this region must be a favorite in the Final Four to cut down the nets in Atlanta.

 Round of 64 Picks

1 Indiana vs. 16 LIU Brooklyn/ James Madison Winner

Friday March 22, Dayton, Ohio

This matchup is a David and Goliath matchup as is any 1/16 matchup. Look for Indiana to come out motivated after their Big Ten Tournament loss to Wisconsin. No upset here, Indiana will be on to third round in convincing fashion.

Pick: Indiana

 

8 North Carolina State vs. Temple

Friday, March 22, Dayton, Ohio

North Carolina State was very underwhelming compared to their preseason expectations, but they are still dangerous. On the other hand, Temple has been a middle of the pack team all season long, anchored by Atlantic 10 player of the year Khalif Wyatt. Wyatt, a senior point guard, is leading the team in scoring, 19 points per game on 41-percent shooting, can score in bunches. However, NC State rolls on with their complete starting five, each averaging at least 12 points per game.

Pick: North Carolina State

 

5 UNLV vs. 12 California

Thursday, March 21, San Jose, California

The famous upset pick, the number five matched up with the number twelve, could very well be an upset once again this year. California is a strong squad led by their backcourt of Allen Crabbe and Justin Cobbs. However, UNLV is in a very tough Mountain West Conference and is deserving of their number five seed. Freshman Anthony Bennett is already a lottery prospect in the draft with his 6’ 8” athletic body. That’s not all though, Senior point guard Anthony Marshall plays the most minutes on average and is shooting 47-percent from the floor. Marshall is one of the best court generals in the country.

Pick: UNLV

 

4 Syracuse vs. 13 Montana

Thursday, March 21, San Jose, California

Syracuse snuck into the number four seed after a mid-February slump that had many question their seeding in the tournament. However, a strong Big East tournament run that included wins over Pittsburgh and Georgetown got them that seed, but they should not feel safe. Montana just got back their senior guard Will Cherry for their conference tournament and shoots a fine 38-percent from beyond the arc. Their solid three-point shooting can open up the Orangemen’s zone. This is a potential upset pick, but Montana’s lack of length might be their demise.

Pick: Syracuse

 

6 Butler vs. 11 Bucknell

Thursday, March 21, Lexington, Kentucky

Everybody’s favorite sleeper, Butler, is back again and draws a favorable first round matchup. Bucknell has not been tested as much as the Bulldogs have been this year, the Bisons best win for their resume is against one of the last teams in, La Salle Explores. Butler is small, compared to Bucknell, who has 6’11” senior Mick Muscala. Muscala is fourth in the country in rebounding per game and Bucknell does have a tough defense, 92.7 points per 100 possessions, the 45best rank in the country. However, coach Brad Stevens knows how to win come March and will carry them past the first round.

Pick: Butler

 

3 Marquette vs. 14 Davidson

Thursday, March 21, Lexington, Kentucky

Davidson is coming in as a notable Cinderella pick with their matchup with the Golden Eagles of Marquette. Davidson is undefeated over the past 12 and they cruised to their Southern Conference championship. In their four competitive contests however, the Wildcats were winless, but Marquette wasn’t much better, just 2-4 on the year. Buzz Williams coaches a fine club led by Vander Blue, but a veteran Davidson squad, all five starters returning from last year, is going to be one of the shocks of the first weekend.

Pick: Davidson

 

7 Illinois vs. 10 Colorado

Friday, March 22, Austin, Texas

There is a case to say Illinois is an overrated team by their ranking, but that can be countered—I’ll take the ladder. The Fighting Illini have beaten two number one seeds, Gonzaga on the road, and Indiana at home. This team also went a commendable 8-10 in the gauntlet known as the Big Ten. Colorado on the other hand, went 10-8 in a mediocre Pac-12 with their best win being over Arizona, who isn’t as good as everyone made them out to be. Illinois will back up their number seven ranking with a second round game.

Pick: Illinois

 

2 Miami (FL) vs. Pacific

Friday, March 22, Austin, Texas

Miami is coming off an ACC Tournament victory over North Carolina, which was the perfect way to prepare for the big dance. Pacific is winners of the Big West and is happy to be a part of the show. Don’t fall for the fact that two fifteen seeds won their second round matchups last year, Miami will roll on in this won.

Pick: Miami

 

Round of 32 Picks

 

1 Indiana vs. 8 North Carolina State

This won’t be easy for the Hoosiers, but Tom Crean will lead this team over with their high-powered offense. Averaging over 80 points a game, the Hoosiers will match the intensity the Wolfpack create with their offensive game.

The Pick: Indiana

 

4 Syracuse vs. 5 UNLV

Syracuse avoids a first round exit with a nice win over Montana, for it gets better for the Orangemen. The length of Cuse will be too much for Anthony Bennett and company to overcome. Syracuse will move onto the Sweet 16 with an impressive showing from C.J Fair, who I expect to play well to carry this team with Anthony Bennett playing him.

The Pick: Syracuse

 

6 Butler vs. 14 Davidson

Davidson got a lucky draw with Marquette, but Butler is at its best in the tournament and it’s hard to go against them. The Bulldogs will roll past Davidson and further boost their resume as the ultimate Cinderella team.

The Pick: Butler

 

2 Miami (FL) vs. 7 Illinois

Illinois is a part of a tough Big Ten where they seem groomed for impressive tournament play. However, Miami is one of the best teams in the country and are looking for the recognition they are deserving of. Shane Larkin is running the point as well as anyone else in the country and will be too much for the Fighting Illini leader Brandon Paul to handle.

The Pick: Miami

 

Sweet 16 Picks

 

1 Indiana vs. 4 Syracuse

Syracuse may have length on their side, but Indiana has the one thing that Syracuse can not beat—three-point shooting. Indiana is lead by the likes of Jordan Hulls, Christian Watford and sixth man Will Sheehey, all who are lethal three-point shooters. If they can move the ball fast enough, the Hoosiers will shoot the Orangemen out of the gym and be on to the elite eight.

The Pick: Indiana

 

2 Miami (FL) vs. 6 Butler

In a battle between one of the hottest teams in the country against one of the best tournament teams in recent memory, the hotter team comes out on top. Butler will not be tested if this bracket goes according to my predictions, while Miami will have a nice matchup against Illinois to prepare them for this one. Miami’s athleticism will be the x-factor to their win over the Bulldogs.

The Pick: Miami (FL)

 

Elite Eight Pick

 

1 Indiana vs. 2 Miami (FL)

This matchup may be one of the best of the tournament. Both teams are extremely athletic and boast one of the best offenses in the country, but when you look at teams prepared for games like this, Indiana has the advantage. The Big Ten has been head and shoulders the toughest conference in all of College Basketball; the Hoosier will be onto the Final Four. With two wins over Michigan, Michigan State and one over Ohio State, Indiana is prepared for any test in their way. Unfortunately Miami is not rewarded for their great ACC play and are given a tough test on their road to the Final Four.

 

Overrated Team in the East: Marquette

Marquette is a solid team, but by no means worthy of a number three seed. The Golden Eagles did grab a share of the Big East regular season, but were bounced early by Notre Dame, losing all their momentum they gained towards the end of the regular season. Buzz Williams team is not a great offense team, tied for 328 in three-point shooting, they will face issues against fine offensive opponents. Well look no further then their second round matchup, Davidson, who is 40 in the nation in offensive efficiency. With a tough out in the second round, Marquette could be the highest seed going home in the first two days of the tournament.

 

Dark Horse: Butler

It is clear who can make some noise in this bracket—the Butler Bulldogs are an experienced squad that has went to back-to-back Final Fours just two and three seasons ago. Butler can take Bucknell in their first round matchup followed up by a second round matchup with possible Cinderella Davidson. Can Butler return to the Final Four, with all that has happened this year; it is not that crazy to think about.