BRACKET BLOG: East Region

This is the first BRACKET BLOG for the so-called second round, and with it comes a second admonishment/exhortation to join the BOTC Bracket Challenge here before the 11 a.m. deadline Thursday.

The group ID is 5240 and the password is dobermans.

Now, on to the East Region, where the more things change, the more things stay the same.

Just like last year, Ohio State, Syracuse, and West Virginia all are back in this region and close to home, which should make for good fan attendance in Nashville and Pittsburgh.

Other parallels to last season abound. Instead of Xavier, we have Cincinnati. Instead of the Marquette Golden Eagles, we get the Southern Miss Golden Eagles. Instead of Princeton, we have Harvard. You get the picture.

For some sage advice to help you pick games in the East Region, click the jump.

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Previous Entries:

The Teams

  1. Syracuse Orange
  2. Ohio St. Buckeyes
  3. Florida St. Seminoles
  4. Wisconsin Badgers
  5. Vanderbilt Commodores
  6. Cincinnati Bearcats
  7. Gonzaga Bulldogs
  8. Kansas St. Wildcats
  9. Southern Miss. Golden Eagles
  10. West Virginia Mountaineers
  11. Texas Longhorns
  12. Harvard Crimson
  13. Montana Grizzlies
  14. St. Bonaventure Bonnies
  15. Loyola, Md. Greyhounds
  16. UNC-Asheville Bulldogs

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The Sites

  • Albuquerque, N.M.
  • Boston, Mass. (Sweet Sixteen | Elite Eight)
  • Nashville, Tenn.
  • Pittsburgh, Pa.

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The Breakdown

No. 1 Syracuse (31-2) vs. No. 16 North Carolina-Asheville (24-9)
March 15 | 2 p.m. CST | Pittsburgh | truTV
Kevin Harlan | Len Elmore | Reggie Miller

Fabricio Melo or no Fabricio Melo, I highly doubt the Orange are going to become the first-ever No. 1 seed to lose to a No. 16 seed. We couldn't possibly be so fortunate.

That's not to say Asheville won't give them a game for a while, though. This isn't their first rodeo, after all. Most of the team's players are back from a First Four appearance last season.

GAMER: not available
Pomeroy: Cuse 82, UNCA 66
Sagarin: Cuse 78, UNCA 65

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No. 2 Ohio State (27-7) vs. No. 15 Loyola (24-8)
March 15 | 8:40 p.m. CST | Pittsburgh | TNT
Kevin Harlan | Len Elmore | Reggie Miller

I'll be the first to admit that I don't know a damn thing about Loyola, but the MAAC was pretty unimpressive this year (for evidence of that, witness Iona's collapse).

It doesn't matter anyway. Never pick a No. 15 seed to win a game. It's only happened four times since the field expanded to 64 teams in 1985, and it hasn't happened at all since 2001. Ohio State will roll the Greyhounds.

GAMER: OSU 70, Loyola 60
Pomeroy: OSU 75, Loyola 57
Sagarin: OSU 71, Loyola 56

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No. 3 Florida State (24-9) vs. No. 14 Saint Bonaventure (20-11)
March 16 | 1:35 p.m. CST | Nashville | CBS
Ian Eagle | Jim Spanarkel

Florida State better not be too full of itself after winning the ACC Tournament, because St. Bonaventure will be a handful for the Seminoles. In Andrew Nicholson, the Bonnies have the best player no one's heard of.

That said, I like the 'Noles to advance in a dogfight now that they have added potent offense to a repertoire that already included tenacious rebounding and disgustingly good defense.

The Bonnies are a nice Cinderella story even to make it this far, but this is a whole different level of play now.

GAMER: FSU 67, SBU 62
Pomeroy: FSU 68, SBU 64
Sagarin: FSU 65, SBU 61

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UPSET ALERT: No. 4 Wisconsin (24-9) vs. No. 13 Montana (25-6)
March 15 | 1:10 p.m. CST | Albuquerque | TNT
Spero Dedes | Bob Wenzel

I'm tagging this one with an upset alert tag mainly because Montana has a better winning percentage than Wisconsin, which always is one of my red flags as to whether a lower seed is capable of beating a higher seed.

That said, I've learned not to give that much credence when the Badgers are involved.

Last year, the trendy pick was Belmont (some things never change), and Bo Ryan and his ginger assassin dispatched them with relative ease.

There is no doubt in my mind that, should K-State advance to the Sweet Sixteen, those damn Badgers will be there waiting for us and all too ready to knock us out for the third time in five years.

GAMER: not available
Pomeroy: Wisky 61, Montana 51
Sagarin: Wisky 61, Montana 52

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UPSET ALERT: No. 5 Vanderbilt (24-10) vs. No. 12 Harvard (26-4)
March 15 | 3:30 p.m. CST | Albuquerque | TNT
Spero Dedes | Bob Wenzel

I have a simple rule. Vanderbilt could be playing the Sisters of the Poor or a troop of Girl Scouts, and I still would issue an upset alert for them simply because it's Vanderbilt.

Yes, the program that brought you first-round losses to Siena, Murray State and Richmond is at it again, once more settling into that comfortable yet deadly 5-12 match-up.

And Harvard will be all too likely to oblige. Ivy League teams have been reppin' hard these past few years, and this Crimson bunch doesn't look any different.

You can be like Digger Phelps and advance the Commodores automatically to the Sweet Sixteen just because they got hot and won a stupid conference tournament, or you can pay heed. Pick them at your own peril.

GAMER: Vandy 69, Harvard 65
Pomeroy: Vandy 64, Harvard 60
Sagarin: Vandy 65, Harvard 62

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UPSET ALERT: No. 6 Cincinnati (24-10) vs. No. 11 Texas (20-13)
March 16 | 11:15 a.m. CST | Nashville | CBS
Ian Eagle | Jim Spanarkel

For some reason I can't really understand, Pomeroy and Sagarin are really high on Texas. For that reason alone, I'll issue an upset alert, but I'm not really buying it.

Sure, Cincinnati looked like garbage in the Big East championship, but at least they got there. Texas looked even more like garbage against Missouri. The win against Iowa State was OK, but the Cyclones played average.

Texas' resume screams one-and-done to me.

And it seems as if Rick Barnes exits the tournament earlier and earlier each year, going from Final Fours (2003) to Elite Eights (2005) to Sweet Sixteens (2007) to second-round exits (last year).

I'm all about Big 12 pride, but I'm also a bracket pragmatist. I'd say roll with Cincinnati. That's a tough team. Texas is young and soft and way too dependent on a streaky J'Covan Brown.

GAMER: Cincy 62, Texas 61
Pomeroy: Texas 66, Cincy 65
Sagarin: Texas 64, Cincy 63

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No. 7 Gonzaga (25-6) vs. No. 10 West Virginia (19-13)
March 15 | 6:20 p.m. CST | Pittsburgh | TNT
Kevin Harlan | Len Elmore | Reggie Miller

Speaking of teams that look like they'll be one-and-done, West Virginia ran out of gas about a month ago.

Other than the fact that the coach is Bob Huggins and there should be a decent home crowd in attendance, I don't see many reasons to like the Mountaineers in this one.

Robert Sacre will give Deniz Kilicli fits. Kevin Jones will get his, but Darryl "Truck" Bryant is prone to erratic play and WVU's freshmen aren't nearly as good as Gonzaga's frosh, Gary Bell and the electric Kevin Pangos.

Root for the future Big 12 compadre, but don't hold your breath.

GAMER: Zags 68, WVU 64
Pomeroy: Zags 67, WVU 66
Sagarin: Zags 68, WVU 67

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UPSET ALERT: No. 8 Kansas State (21-10) vs. No. 9 Southern Mississippi (25-8)
March 15 | 11:40 a.m. CST | Pittsburgh | truTV
Kevin Harlan | Len Elmore | Reggie Miller

We come to it at last: the great battle of our time.

I keep going back and forth on this game. On paper, we look like the superior team. Southern Miss' RPI is a manufactured joke. The Eagles should have been a double-digit seed.

Furthermore, they are sliding as of late, having lost five of their last nine entering the tournament. They've been a nice story this season, but they're sort of overachieving at a level that usually comes back to bite you.

And every time I start to feel a little confident about our chances, four games against Iowa State and Oklahoma flash back into my mind.

And I remember that nothing comes easy for this team, because it can't get out of its own way.

When you consider that focus and maturity are our worst enemies, the Fab Melo news probably isn't going to help our team buckle down and lock in on Southern Miss much, either.

If the Cats make shots, they should win. If not, things could get ... interesting.

GAMER: not available
Pomeroy: KSU 71, USM 65
Sagarin: KSU 73, USM 68

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