Courtesy of NBC College Basketball Talk
Finally, we get to the fourth and final region, the East. In the first game, Indiana will not be the first one seed to lose and whether it is LIU-Brooklyn (also a cool nickname in the Blackbirds), or James Madison, IU will win. In the next game, I’m taking NC State. They have the talent to be a top-four seed, but couldn’t put everything together this season. They still have some elite players in C.J. Leslie and Richard Howell and they should take this game.
In the next game, I have Cal beating the Runnin’ Rebels in the five-twelve match-up. Anthony Bennett is one of the best players in the country and a consensus-lottery pick, and on a good day, can beat anyone; however, they can just as easily run very cold. Allen Crabbe is one of the best scorers in the country, and paired with Justin Cobbs, this team got hot at the right time. These two teams faced off once before, with Cal losing by one at home. Cal has improved since then and with this game being played in San Jose, I’m picking the Golden Bears. In the final game of the pod, in a game that Doug Gottlieb pegged as an upset, I think Syracuse will steamroll the Grizzlies (another great name) of Montana.
The bottom half of the bracket is upset city for me as I have Bucknell beating Butler in the six-eleven match-up. Mike Muscala is one of the best big-men in the country and while Butler has wins against Indiana, and Gonzaga, they lost to Saint Louis three times and lost at VCU by 32 in the not too distant past. Bucknell lacks a marquee win, but were devoid of a bad loss. As long as Muscala can stay out of foul trouble, I like the Bison’s chance here. In the next game, I have Marquette beating the Davidson Wildcats. Bob McKillop is an excellent coach and Marquette is not the strongest three seed; however, between Vander Blue and Junior Cadougan, the Golden Eagles should advance.
We are finally down to the final two games of the second round. In the first of these two games, I have the Buffaloes of Colorado beating the seventh seeded Illinois. Illinois has looked excellent at times but have been maddeningly inconsistent and Colorado has been excellent in neutral site games this year. I like for the Buffs to take this one, but if Illinois finds their stroke, they can beat anyone (just look at their wins at Indiana or at Gonzaga for proof). In the final game of the tournament, I have the Miami Hurricanes beating Pacific handily. Miami has improved leaps and bounds over the course of the season and a lot of that has to do with coach Jim Larranga and the experience of this team. Kenny Kadji has been excellent all year and Durand Scott and Shane Larkin are excellent outside shooters. Pacific in a better situation could have been a good upset pick, but I am taking the ‘Canes in this one. Good luck filling out your brackets as no matter how many thousands of hours of college basketball you may watch, there will always be upsets that come out of nowhere and make a run.
Recap: Indiana, Miami, Marquette, Syracuse, NC State, Colorado, Bucknell, and Cal advance while UNLV, Butler, and Illinois are all upset.