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East Region Analysis

Shane Larkin

Many believe Miami should have gotten a number one seed, but being a two seed shouldn't hurt the Hurricanes' title chances. They have proven they can win big games thanks to a fantastic point guard in Shane Larkin, a solid shooting guard in Durand Scott and depth and talent in the low post. They look like they have a easy route to the Sweet 16, unless Illinois starts playing like they were the season first began. The only startling, and scary, thing about the 'Canes is the complete lack of experience. Not one player on their roster has played a tournament game. Jim Larranaga came from George Washington, where the team was a constant tournament squad, but he has never had the lofty expectations placed on Miami this year.

Rotnei Clarke
After missing out on the tournament last year, Butler and coach Brad Stevens are back to make another Cinderella story. This year, the route will be just as tough as in previous seasons. Bucknell, the Patriot League champ, has one of the nation's most underrated players in Mike Muscala and can beat down Butler. Though with clutch shooter Rotnei Clarke leading the way, anything is possible for a team that always seems to win when it is March.

If Butler isn't the Cinderella in this region, it should be the 13th seeded Montana Grizzlies. Last year, the Grizzlies were a popular dark horse pick to beat Jordan Taylor and the Wisconsin Badgers. But, they played terrible and shot as poor as possible. This year, with that experience in the back of their head, Montana could pull the upset over Syracuse. They have quite the player in guard Will Cherry. Cherry is a great scorer averaging 13.9 a game, a great passer and one of the best defenders in the mid major ranks. If they can get past Syracuse they could beat a UNLV team without a great backcourt.

Another possible upset in this region? The 14th seed, Davidson, could pull an upset over a vulnerable Marquette squad. The Cougars have a lot of depth which may be surprising for a team from the Southern Conference and have a serious threat in De'Mon Brooks who has size and athleticism. He is second on the team in scoring and is a factor in the rebounding game averaging 6.2 a game. Marquette could have trouble containing Brooks due to a frontcourt with very, very little depth. The Cougars may have their most dangerous squad since Steph Curry was nailing threes in a Davidson uniform.

Remember when Illinois was in the Top 10 and had beaten a very good Gonzaga team? Things went south from there, but the Fighting Illini could still make things interesting in the East region. They have a great backcourt headlined by Brandon Paul, D.J. Richarson and Tracy Abrams. They also have a coach in John Groce who has already showed he can win in the tournament while at Ohio. They face a dangerous Colorado team in the second round and Miami likely after that. But, if they can get things going early, who knows, the Fighting Illini might make some noise in this year's tournament.

My Pick: Miami over Indiana

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