We continue our tournament coverage with a look at the East Region, where the Tar Heels and Volunteers face a tough road to San Antonio. The breakdown begins with a look at the bracket's top teams from top to bottom in terms of offensive and defensive efficiency (as rated by Ken Pomeroy), followed by analysis of the region's statistical make up. The regional preview concludes with a session of Tourney Talk between AW and PB.
All data from Ken Pomeroy. Teams listed in order of best to worst within each category. Each team's national rank is listed in parentheses.
|Bracket Rank||Offensive Efficiency||Defensive Efficiency|
|1||North Carolina (3)||Louisville (5)|
|2||Tennessee (8)||Washington State (17)|
|3||Notre Dame (11)||North Carolina (20)|
|4||Washington State (18)||Winthrop (23)|
|5||Indiana (21)||Oklahoma (25)|
|6||Butler (26)||Indiana (31)|
|7||St. Joe’s (29)||Tennessee (34)|
|8||Louisville (41)||Arkansas (35)|
|9||S. Alabama (57)||Butler (59)|
|10||Arkansas (58)||Notre Dame (61)|
|11||George Mason (70)||St. Joe’s (99)|
|12||Oklahoma (73)||S. Alabama (102)|
|13||Boise State (104)||George Mason (123)|
|14||American U. (108)||Mt. Saint Mary’s (127)|
|15||Mt. Saint Mary’s (212)||Boise State (173)|
|16||Winthrop (229)||American U. (234)|
Full bracket analysis, including Tourney Talk, after the jump.
The top four seeds all have Final Four potential but are also all flawed. North Carolina is the tournament favorite but does not possess the lock-down defensive characteristics of usual champions, Tennessee is only an average defensive team when they aren’t creating turnovers, and Louisville is fantastic on defense but is devoid of the three point attack of a typical Rick Pitino squad. Conversely, Washington State has solid offensive and defensive numbers but do the Cougars have the athletes to compete in the later rounds?
Also, Winthrop may have the biggest differential between their offensive and defensive efficiencies of any team in the tournament. While the Eagles pulled off the first round upset last year, with a 229th ranked offensive attack, their chances look much slimmer this season. Last, Butler and Indiana were both potential top four seeds, but they are slotted in the seven and eight seeds respectively. Should they both survive their first round tests, we will be treated to some great second round match-ups with Butler vs. Tennessee and Indiana vs. North Carolina. (AW)
PB: It's an interesting region, isn't it? Let's start with the two Indiana teams you mentioned in the numbers breakdown - Indiana and Butler. Are both underseeded?
AW: I think so. Indiana has a top 25 offense and a top 30 defense. They struggled down the stretch (losing three of their last four) but still have Eric Gordon and DJ White. That duo is one of the toughest in the tournament and gives Hoosiers inside and outside scoring threats. With an RPI of 23, I was thinking a five or six seed before the announcement. Butler is 17 in the RPI, went 29-3, and was ranked in the top 10. They are just 1-1 against the top 50 though - their strength of schedule is definitely the reason for the seven seed.
PB: Let's assume each win their first round games, then. That's a tough, tough draw for the East's power seeds, no? North Carolina would face an Indiana team that has DJ Wright on the interior to deal with Hansbrough, plus one of the most dynamic perimeter players in the country with Eric Gordon. And Tennessee, which has been beatable this year, has to face a rock solid Butler team that does a lot well. How tough are these second round match ups? They feel like they should be Sweet 16 games, don't they?
AW: Unbelievably tough. Definitely more like third round games. Not to mention the fact that Butler dominated Tennessee in NYC at the beginning of last season. Butler hasn't played the toughest schedule but they certainly won't be intimidated by Bruce Pearl's club. If Butler can take care of the ball (8th lowest turnover percentage in the country), they'll have a great shot at defeating the Vols. I'm just not a Tennessee believer this year. I might mention that Chris Lofton is the second most overrated player in the country...
Which bring me to the most overrated player in the country, Tyler Hansbrough. I do think the Tar Heels in Charlotte will likely be too tough for the Hoosiers (who are really playing without a coach) but I wouldn't shed a tear should Roy's Boys be the first number one seed to lose.
PB: [This portion of the program brought to you by Andrew’s Coach K American Express.]
Kidding aside, I mostly agree. I think Hansbrough is overrated, but I'd shy away from the suggestion that he's not elite. As a college basketball player, anyway, he's very, very effective. But if the Midwest is the region with the most "Wow!" teams to me, the East is the tournament's overall toughest region. We haven't even talked about Louisville, Washington State, or Notre Dame, all of whom have played excellent basketball at times this year.
AW: I can't say much about Washington State. Their games start at my bedtime and end during my first REM cycle. Oh yeah, and they're not on TV. Nice job Pac 10. Louisville is my team from this region. They struggled early in the year with injuries and cohesiveness but got it all together for Big East play. David Padgett is one of the most underrated players in the country and he is surrounded by slashers and playmakers. If the Red Birds can knock down the three pointer at a higher clip, they could easily take out both Tennessee and Carolina on their way to San Antonio.
PB: You're getting old. Or soft. Or both. Bed time is not 10 pm, slacker. But I'm with you all the way on the Pac 10's miserable television deal. It's terrible how little of the great west coast basketball we get to see.
I'm torn on Louisville. At their best, they're solid, but the offense tends to disappear from time to time. Truthfully, though, I'm nitpicking: they remain the #3 seed I'm most glad to see in someone else's bracket.
AW: You can have the Midwest, I think this is the toughest bracket. The top three seeds all had realistic hopes of landing number one seeds when they started their conference tournaments. Carolina is #1 in the RPI and Tennessee is #2. And they're in the same region! Nice job committee. Louisville does enter the tourney on a two game slide but they had won eleven of their last twelve before that. I think they'll put it together enough to advance. Last, Notre Dame vs. Washington State in the second round. Any thoughts on your Domers?
PB: I've barely seen Notre Dame play. Peek at the home schedule and you'll see why I haven’t bothered. Also, Luke Harangody is utterly revolting to me - the thick, gross guy that you hate to play pick up ball against because he's always rubbing his sweaty fat up against you. Also: Mike Brey's turtlenecks. (I've really struggled to get on board with this team...)
AW: Aren't those guys always the ones to volunteer to go skins?
PB: Yes! They want to play skins, and by the time they've shed their shirt, they're already leaving puddles on the court. You try to play that extended cushion D where you just keep an eye (hand at the most) on him, but he's constantly initiating contact, drenching you with his sweat.
AW: Any idea how he won Big East Player of the Year?
PB: I'm imagining his sweat on the voting ballots and mass confusion among the voters who can't read the bleeding ink.
AW: The hanging chad of college basketball. Oh yeah, OU is in this region. Is anyone not going to pick St. Joe's in the upset?
PB: As a Texas fan, I'm not at all displeased by Jeff Capel. I guess we still haven’t seen too much of him yet, but my early impression is: "Pull up a chair. Stay a while!"
AW: He'll be there awhile. Don't worry. He fits in too well. Blake Griffin probably stays another year to play with his brother. They'll be more talented next year, yet still disgusting to watch.
PB: So who you got in the final analysis?
AW: I'm taking one of the best tournament coaches out there, Rick Pitino. Louisville will find a way to slow down Ty Lawson and the Carolina break. In a half court game, the Tar Heels are very beatable. I'm also climbing a little far out on my limb and predicting Butler over Tennessee in the second round.
And I just got a horrible image that cannot be allowed to happen: Roy Williams in his light blue suit shaking hands with Bruce Pearl in a frightening orange one.
PB: Oh, God. You're right. Among those rules women use to pick brackets, this is one that I'm going with. UNC-TN won't happen. The gods won't allow it.
AW: Who you got?
PB: God, I'm softer than Luke Harangody's shoulder fat. I'm not sure. I literally haven't made my bracket choices yet. I'm having a real hard time picking against UNC, but their road is tough. They remain my pick until further notice, though.
Who will win the East Regional?
This poll is closed