March Madness preview: East Region
MAR 17, 2013 7:39p ET
The road to the Final Four was supposed to go through Indianapolis in front of thousands of hometown fans for the Indiana Hoosiers. Instead, a loss in the Big Ten tournament semifinal — and Louisville winning the Big East tournament — resulted in a trip to the East Coast.
Indiana lost 68-56 to Wisconsin on Saturday but did enough to earn a No. 1 seed — just not in the region most Hoosiers fans had hoped. Louisville, awarded the top No. 1 seed, landed in the Midwest Region where Indy is hosting the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight games.
The Hoosiers were a trendy pick to win the national championship back in October, and they lived up to the billing with an all-star lineup. Indiana matched its win total from a season ago at 27 and can make it a truly memorable season by winning its first national title since 1987.
The other top seeds in the East are formidable: No. 2 Miami, No. 3 Marquette and No. 4 Syracuse. With an NCAA tournament as wide open as this one, any of those teams are capable of winning four games to earn a spot in the Final Four.
Best second-round matchup: No. 5 UNLV vs. No. 12 California. These two don't have to look far back to find game tape on each other. UNLV defeated Cal 76-75 on forward Quintrell Thomas' short hook shot with 1.2 seconds remaining on Dec. 9 in Berkley, Calif.
Early upset: No. 11 Bucknell over No. 6 Butler. The Bulldogs have made two Final Fours in recent years, but this season's team finished tied for third in the Atlantic-10 and has struggled at times. Bucknell, which won the Patriot League title, has won 15 of its last 17 games.
Cinderella story: No. 14 Davidson has a difficult matchup with No. 3 Marquette in the round of 64, but the Wildcats are one of the hottest teams in college basketball. Davidson has won 17 consecutive games and starts three seniors and two juniors. This team, which has already played Duke and Gonzaga, won't be intimidated by anyone.
Best player: Victor Oladipo, 6-5, junior, guard, Indiana. Oladipo has transformed himself from an above-average player into a National Player of the Year candidate — He was already named Player of the Year by the Sporting News. The Hoosiers' high flier, who punctuated his season with a stunning 360 dunk in the Big Ten tournament, averages 13.6 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.2 steals per game.
Best player you don't know: Mike Muscala, 6-11, senior, center, Bucknell. Muscala is averaging 19.0 points and 11.2 rebounds, which ranks tied for third in the country. With him in the lineup, Bucknell has a go-to player that could create problems for any team in the Bison's bracket.
Most underrated coach: Bob McKillop, Davidson. The veteran coach has led the Wildcats to the NCAA tournament in five of the last eight seasons. In 24 seasons, his record is 414-256. Under his guidance, Davidson has continued its Southern Conference dominance, even without Stephen Curry.
Fact only we can give you: Colorado has won 20 or more games in three consecutive seasons under coach Tad Boyle. It marks the first time in program history the Buffaloes have accomplished that feat.
Headed to Atlanta: No.1 Indiana. The Hoosiers are 3-3 in their final six games of the season, but Tom Crean's crew has all the components to win the East Region. Center Cody Zeller and Oladipo are bona fide NBA players, while Christian Watford, Jordan Hulls and Will Sheehey can score in bunches. The rebuilding project at Indiana is complete under Crean, and it's time for the Hoosiers to shine on the national stage.
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