A quick, first-blush look at the East Region bracket.
MOST OVERSEEDED: Georgia supposedly was going to have to sweat it out on Selection Sunday. Instead, it turns out the Bulldogs – who were 5-11 against top-100 teams, just 12-11 against top-200 teams and lost twice in the past two weeks to Alabama, which didn’t make the field – had nothing to worry about, getting a No. 10 seed. You also could argue that Clemson and UAB – who meet in a play-in game – didn’t deserve to be in the field. They have one top-50 win combined (UAB over No. 49 VCU). Combined.
MOST UNDERSEEDED: Marquette had five wins over teams in the RPI top 25 and seven against top-100 teams, and while they have 14 losses, 12 came to teams in the top 50. Yet the Golden Eagles are seeded 11th.
THE FIRST-ROUND GAMES
Friday in Cleveland
1. Ohio State vs. 16. Alabama State/UT-San Antonio*
8. George Mason vs. 9. Villanova
3. Syracuse vs. 14. Indiana State
6. Xavier vs. 11. Marquette
Thursday in Tampa
4. Kentucky vs. 13. Princeton
5. West Virginia vs. 12. Clemson/UAB#
Friday in Charlotte
2. North Carolina vs. 15. Long Island
7. Washington vs. 10. Georgia
Note: #–play-in game is Tuesday in Dayton, Ohio; *–play-in game is Wednesday in Dayton
BEST PLAYER: Ohio State freshman C Jared Sullinger more than lived up to his high school hype. Rarely do teams get better after losing the national player of the year (the Buckeyes’ Evan Turner won that award last season), but the Buckeyes are one of those teams and the main reason is Sullinger. He has a high basketball IQ and does everything well. He’s also the rare young big man who understands that his place is in the low post. Ohio State has a lot of talent, for sure, but Sullinger’s vast repertoire of skills make all those talented teammates more dangerous.
FIVE OTHERS TO WATCH: Marquette F/G Jimmy Butler, Xavier G Tu Holloway, Syracuse F Rick Jackson, Washington G Isaiah Thomas, Georgia F Trey Thompkins.
BEST PLAYER YOU’VE NEVER HEARD OF: George Mason G Cam Long is the Patriots’ best player and a first-team All-Colonial selection. He’s a solid all-around player who can hit the 3-pointer; he leads the team in scoring and steals, is second in assists and third in rebounds.
FIVE OTHERS TO WATCH: UT San Antonio G Devin Gibson, UAB G Aaron Johnson, Princeton F Kareem Maddox, UAB G Jamarr Sanders, Clemson G Demontez Stitt.
NUMBERS GAME: There are eight conference champions in the region; two of them – Alabama State and UT San Antonio – are involved in the play-in game. There are 10 Big Six conference teams in the region (tied with the Southwest for the most in a region), plus one from the A-10, one from Conference USA and one from the Colonial.
BEST FIRST-ROUND MATCHUP: The 7-10 matchup between Washington and Georgia will have a ton of good athletes on view. Washington wants a fast pace, while the Bulldogs wouldn’t mind a game in the high 60s. Washington doesn’t always bear down on defense, which actually could cause Georgia to play faster than it wants. Can either team impose its will? Can Georgia slow Washington G Isaiah Thomas? Can the Huskies handle Georgia big man Trey Thompkins? And what will Washington do with Georgia swingman Travis Leslie? The winner has a legit shot in the second round against North Carolina, even if the game is in Charlotte.