NCAA Tournament Group Picks: East Region
Georgetown is back. Well, the Hoyas aren’t that Georgetown again, but they have a guy who looks a little like Allen Iverson on the court (first-year guard Dante Harris) and a guy who looks exactly like Patrick Ewing on the bench. (because it’s Patrick Ewing, now the head coach). And they had a miraculous run in the Big East Tournament to go from 9-12 in the regular season to 13-12 and sit at the No. 12 seed line in the NCAA. It’s the program’s first trip to the tournament since 2015. This was the Big East Tournament’s first title since 2007. And it’s a huge sense of validation for Ewing, whose team was chosen to finish last in the Big East after such talented players as James. Akinjo and Mac McClung moved over last season.
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Team from all over the region
Best First Round Game
No. 8 LSU vs. No. 9 San Buenaventura. The Bonnies have still lost just four times this season, their season shortened by a hiatus that ended most of the pre-conference game. They play an efficient brand of ball that emphasizes control and movement of the ball. It will be fascinating to see how they handle an LSU team whose defensive indifference generally causes opponents to speed up their game, which is exactly what the Tigers want them to do, because few have the firepower to remain competitive. All you need to know about the difference in styles is that LSU has three players (Cameron Thomas, Javonte Smart and Trendon Watford) who average more points than the Bonnies leader (Kyle Lofton).
Sown too high
No. 4 State of Florida. The Seminoles finished 3-4 against Quad 1 opponents after their disappointing decline at the end of the season. And his early loss to No. 103 UCF never went away. They blew chances at two championships in one week. The first occurred when they failed to get defensive stops and allowed Notre Dame to score 83 points, with an ACC regular season title on the line for FSU. The second occurred on Saturday when they committed 25 turnovers and capitulated against a Georgia Tech team that any of us might call boring, but can now call themselves ACC champion.
Sown too low
No. 11 State of Michigan. This is the second consecutive NCAA tournament in which one of the committee’s most egregious failures involved the Spartans. The former came infamously in the 2019 tournament, when they were assigned second place in the East Region (which contained top seed general Duke and superstar Zion Williamson) instead of the Midwest (which didn’t) because it was 120 miles. closer from East Lansing to DC The unique location in 2021 (Indiana) meant we could hope to avoid such absurdity, and overall we were. But putting the Spartans in a First Four game with UCLA made no sense with less accomplished teams like Utah State and Syracuse placed directly in the first round. Neither team was exceptional, but MSU defeated NET No. 3 Illinois, No. 4 Michigan and No. 8 Ohio State. There are teams at the No. 2 seed line that can’t get anywhere near those wins. Syracuse won only one Quad 1 game and complained that their only chances were in away games, as if winning at least one more was forbidden. Utah State’s only victories against the field came in a home series against No. 7 San Diego State. This one is puzzling.
Michigan State No. 11 over BYU No. 6. It’s unknown what the Spartans team will show from game to game, and that’s partly because you never know which five players will be on the court. They have 11 players averaging at least nine minutes. It’s nice to know that your team has depth. It would also be nice to know that you have five reliable types. But they have still shown the ability to really excel in games when point guard Rocket Watts is finding his shot and coach Tom Izzo finds the right mix of players.
Best potential game
No. 1 Michigan vs. No. 8 LSU. The Tigers rank 125th in defensive efficiency. Michigan loves to play a fast-paced game and should adapt squarely to that approach. How effective the Wolverines will be without star forward Isaiah Livers wasn’t fully established in Saturday’s Big Ten semifinal game against Ohio State, in which they lost but only fell by a bucket when they chose to play for the final shot while they were. behind the final 30. seconds. That’s all the more reason to believe that this could be a fantastic 40 minutes of basketball.
Better match of potential players
Alabama guard John Petty vs. Connecticut guard James Bouknight. There is no more dynamic point guard in the tournament than Bouknight, who can float above the rim for thrilling finishes and punish defenses with his deep throws. Petty has not become an elite scorer, but he knows how to play, he knows how to defend and he understands his role perfectly. Their intersection could be dazzling.
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Get to know
UNC Greensboro Coach Wes Miller. He played for North Carolina’s 2005 NCAA championship team and is making his second NCAA Tournament appearance with the Spartans, with whom he has won three Southern Conference regular season titles. He is 185-134 in 10 seasons and has won 20 or more games and 13 or more SoCon games in each of the last five seasons. We tell you all of this because it is estimated that there will be many coaches who will lose their jobs this spring, and it would be wise for those shows to give Miller a good look. Would you be interested or will you wait until Roy Williams retires from North Carolina?
Don’t be surprised if. . .
Michigan sophomore Franz Wagner is finally emerging as the star he’s capable of becoming. Without injured forward Isaiah Livers, the Wolverines won’t compete for the title without someone stepping up and handling the production he so frequently delivered. Wagner has been content to play a total floor game: rebounds, defense and turnovers. But he has the ability to operate as an elite scorer, something he has yet to embrace. In the semifinals of the Big Ten, he obviously did not accept it that he committed a foul. That cannot happen. Ever. The Wagner who gave up three games of 19 or more points in a four-game stretch is the guy who can lead Michigan to the Final Four.
No. 5 Colorado. A lot of people are going to choose Georgetown because they like the idea of a relevant Georgetown, or they saw how superbly the Hoyas played in the Big East Tournament, but Colorado still has a lot to recommend as a basketball team and only lost the Pac 12 title. by two points, on a day when the Buffaloes didn’t play well. Point guard McKinley Wright is a terrific leader and playmaker. Evan Battey is a wide body that makes it difficult to move around the post. Colorado could surprise us all.
Final Four selection
Alabama. Yes, it seems unfair for Tide to play at the national championship level in both soccer and basketball, but they can be symbiotic. There was a time when it was believed that the coaches of the most important soccer schools did not have time even for the notion that basketball was worthwhile, but they have come to the idea that taking a soccer player to a basketball game can be helpful. it is enthusiasm for school and a fun environment for those interested in participating. And soccer weekends have always been very important to basketball recruits. So Alabama can be great at both, especially if it has guys like Jahvon Quinerly, Herbert Jones and John Petty on the floor. This is the most talented and experienced team the Tide figure has had in a long time.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.