2013 March Madness Bracket Predictions: East Region
by Robert Ferringo - 3/19/2013
The Big Ten is the most overrated conference in the country.
The Pac-12 is the most underrated conference in the country.
As a result, the East Region is comprised of two of the most dangerous double-digit seeds in the entire field, California and Colorado, while also housing perhaps one of the most propped-up top seeds in the sport with Indiana.
The East is one of the most dangerous brackets in the tournament because I could realistically see any of five teams survive this region. At the same token, three of those teams I could also realistically see losing in the first round, and I think that all four of them will have to claw their way out of the opening weekend if they even want a chance at a berth in Atlanta.
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Here are Doc’s Sports 2013 March Madness bracket predictions for the East (Washington, D.C.) Region:
No. 1 Seed: Indiana (27-6 Straight-Up, 17-14 ATS)
I keep coming back to the same question about Indiana: how good are these guys? I know that everyone wants them to be really good. And I know everyone assumes they are really good. But what have we really seen from the Hoosiers to make us believe that this is a title team? This team was a No. 11 seed last year. Now they are a No. 1. The Hoosiers have talent. Victor Oladipo is one of the best players in the country. Cody Zeller is an excellent big man. Christian Watford has been underrated and pairs with sniper Jordan Hulls to provide the senior leadership. But the bench is thin. They have a freshman point guard that’s been pretty nondescript. And there really hasn’t been many moments of true Greatness from this team this year. They were beaten twice at home. They were upset on a neutral site by Butler. They haven’t won more than six straight since November. They were embarrassed in the Big Ten Tournament. So, again I ask, we know this team is good but how good are these guys, really?
Indiana Prediction:I think Indiana is going to have a tough time making it out of the opening weekend. I think that they will, mind you, but I think they are going to have to battle with either N.C. State – a team that matches up with them very well – or Temple – a team with no fear that’s already toppled Syracuse this season. If Indiana survives, their upside really depends on who is left standing. I don’t think they are good enough to beat Syracuse and Miami. But they are good enough to put down some upstart mid-majors in the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight. I will call for Indiana to not make the Final Four.
No. 2 Seed: Miami (27-6 SU, 20-9-1 ATS)
I have been on this Miami team since Day 1 of this season, even claiming back in November – to snickers – that if Reggie Johnson were healthy they would be the best team in the ACC. I overestimated Johnson’s impact, but my premise was strong. This is one of the most experienced teams in the country. Because of transfers, redshirts or whatever, their average age of this roster is 21.3 years old. That may not seem like a big deal, but it is. Ironically, they are led by one of the “kids,” sophomore point guard Shane Larkin. He has had an awesome year and is becoming a big shot player. But Miami’s strength is in its length. This team is athletic and experienced with underrated seniors Kenny Kadji and Durand Scott getting it done on both ends. They have size in the post with Johnson and Julian Gamble and some X-factor wing players that can pick up the slack if one of the stars is having a bad night. This is a very complete team.
Miami Prediction: I think Miami’s toughest game is going to be its second one, against either Illinois or Colorado. Because even though this Canes group has life and basketball experience, they don’t have tournament experience. And there is no substitute for that. Fortunately for them, Jim Larrinaga is brilliant and has led a Final Four march before. If Miami survives the opening weekend, I think they are clearly the best team in this region and should be the favorites to go to Atlanta.
No. 3 Seed: Marquette (23-8 SU, 13-14 ATS)
I know, I was surprised too. The Golden Eagles have become so underrated that they may be overrated. The Golden Eagles were never a real threat to win the Big East Tournament, they never spent any time in the Top 5 or Top 10 this year, and they bowed out of the Big East Tournament quickly. Yet here they are as one of the Top 12 seeds in the NCAA Tournament. Strange. Marquette has gotten this far almost exclusively on toughness. Defensively, they are relentless. Offensively, they are wild and unflinching. This team knows it weaknesses but protects them with rabid ferocity. Davante Gardner is their most efficient offensive player in the post. They also benefit from senior point Junior Cadougan. This team has size and athleticism, and they will go as far as wing “scorers” Vander Blue and Todd Mayo can take them.
Marquette Prediction: All of Marquette’s best wins came at home this year, and they have already lost on a neutral site to their potential second-round opponent, Butler. The Golden Eagles are No. 314 in the nation in three-point shooting, and they won’t make it out of the opening weekend if they can’t find someone to hit a shot from deep.
No. 4 Seed: Syracuse (26-9 SU, 17-14 ATS)
The Orange boast one of the most talented, but erratic, rosters in college basketball. They spent a majority of their season in the Top 10. But a late season swoon, and subsequent Madison Square Garden revival, have led them to this slot. The Orange will have to rebound from their second half collapse in the Big East Championship, and they will need to do it quickly. Syracuse played well for 3.5 games, and if that team shows up they could run the table to Atlanta. Their quirky 2-3 zone is difficult to prepare for, and the Orange have four double-digit scorers that all contributed to last year’s Elite Eight team. Syracuse has been plagued by the shaky guard play of Brandon Triche and Michael Carter-Williams. But if those two can play to their potential – and keep their composure – this will be a tough team to beat.
Syracuse Prediction: The Orange have an excellent draw at the top of the bracket. Neither Montana, Cal nor UNLV are really set up well to attack the Syracuse zone. And if the Orange make the Sweet 16 they could face other run-and-gun teams before a date with Miami. I think the Hurricanes are one of only a few teams that should scare the Orange in this region. But if this team goes into another mental funk they will underachieve in yet another March.
No. 5 Seed: UNLV (25-9 SU, 13-20 ATS)
Brimming with talent, the Runnin’ Rebels have strutted to a No. 5 seed and some tournament expectations. Anthony Bennett is one of the best freshmen in the nation and leads the team with 16.1 points per game. The Rebels pair him with two other explosive forwards in Khem Birch and Mike Moser, whose production has plummeted this year. The Rebels surround them with a trio of 10-point-scoring guards, including accomplished point guard Anthony Marshall. The Rebels have not been good away from home this year – they are just 3-6 in their last nine road games – and they didn’t do much outside of the Mountain West.
UNLV Prediction: The Rebels actually beat first round opponent Cal, 76-75, back on Dec. 9 in Berkeley. I don’t think that they will pull off the sweep, especially having to play the Bears in nearby San Jose. I think UNLV will be one-and-done for the fifth straight postseason.
No. 6 Seed: Butler (26-8 SU, 18-13-1 ATS)
I have said for years now that Butler is the Duke of the mid-majors. This is a team that is tough to beat in a tournament setting thanks to its toughness, its brilliant coach Brad Stevens, and to its staunch adherence to its system. The Bulldogs have the confidence of a team that has played in Final Fours in the recent past but also beaten some of the top teams in this year’s field like Indiana and Marquette. Rotnei Clarke is a deadeye shooter for this team. And he is not the only one. The Bulldogs offense tries to deliver body blow after body blow with its solid frontcourt led by center Andrew Smith. The Bulldogs have five guys averaging 9.9 points or more, but their real strength is in A) setting the tone with their defense and B) keeping games close and low-scoring, knowing they will execute in the last five minutes better than their opponents.
Butler Prediction: This is a dangerous team in this bracket. I know a lot of people are picking the Bulldogs to fall at the hands of upstart Bucknell. But I don’t see it. This will be a tight game one way or the other – they play such similar styles – but the Bulldogs just find ways to advance. And if they survive the opener then all bets are off with this team as Stevens already has two Final Fours under his belt and it is impossible to predict when the Butler train will slow down.
Best second-round matchup: No. 5 UNLV vs. No. 12 California
These two teams played a brilliant 76-75 game back on Dec. 9 that went to the Rebels thanks to a layup with 1.2 seconds to play. Cal could not handle Bennett at all, and UNLV’s strength on the inside plays right into Cal’s weakness. But the Bears have played better over the last month than they were playing then. They have maybe the best backcourt in the country with Justin Cobbs and Allen Crabbe, and they have revenge. Mike Montgomery has been a huge bust in the NCAA Tournament. But this is an exciting rematch and pits the inside power of one against the perimeter potency of the other.
Best potential third-round matchup: No. 1 Indiana vs. No. 8 N.C. State
There are plenty of intriguing potential matchups with this group. But I think that Indiana-N.C. State would be a fun game because it would be non-stop, end-to-end action played in the 70s and 80s. The Wolfpack played into the second weekend last year and nearly took down eventual runner-up Kansas. This is virtually the same N.C. State team, and I think they can exploit Indiana’s glaring weakness: transition defense. There are excellent individual talents on both sides, and both of these teams have question marks about their mental makeup. It would be fun to see one school will its way into the second round against a foe of equal quality.
Upset Alert (second round): No. 3 Marquette vs. No. 14 Davidson
I already called for Cal to possibly upset UNLV in the first round. But the fun might not stop there. Davidson is a team that is absolutely capable of knocking off Marquette. The Wildcats have won 19 straight games and are an offensive machine. They have already gone toe-to-toe in true road games against Duke and New Mexico as well as a neutral site game with Gonzaga, and the core of this Davidson team is the same that won at Kansas last year. Davidson gave Louisville all it could handle last year in the first round, falling to the Final Four-bound Cardinals.
Upset Alert (third round): No. 2 Miami vs. No. 10 Colorado
This Buffaloes team is unafraid and they are capable of taking down the ACC Champions here. The Buffs have an NBA-caliber forward in Andre Roberson and a pair of dynamite sophomore guards in Askia Booker and Spencer Dinwiddie. All of those players gained valuable experience in last year’s tournament, and coach Tad Boyle will have them ready to compete against the Hurricanes. Miami has had an emotional ride the last two weeks, first claiming their first ACC regular season title and then cutting down the nets in Greensboro for their first-ever league tournament title. They will have to avoid an emotional letdown in Austin. It may be tough for them to get up for games against Pacific and Colorado. But if they aren’t careful their bubble could burst this week.
Dark Horse team: No. 5 Butler
It has to be Butler. They have made a pair of inexplicable Final Four runs in the past three years. If Clarke gets hot, he can shoot them to Atlanta. And the main thing they have going for them is the matchups. They already beat equally hardheaded Marquette once. They will be able to handle the size of Miami. They already beat top seed Indiana. And they could chew up and spit out an undisciplined team like Syracuse. Beware of Butler.
Team That Makes Me Nervous: No. 4 Syracuse
The Triche-Carter-Williams backcourt should be one of the best in the nation. But MCW is amazingly overrated and totally out of control. You would think that Triche, a senior in his final go-round, would seize the reigns. But Brandon Triche is a mental midget who has never met a big game or big moment he wasn’t ready to shrink from. The play of this team has been uninspiring over the past month and, obviously, you don’t win in March without guard play. But, as I mentioned, this team is also probably still one of the four or five most talented in the country, and they showed signs of the lights turning on in New York. I think Syracuse has an excellent draw and a path to Atlanta. But if their guards continue with their inexplicable play in key moments – or if they are hungover from their NYC journey – this team could suffer an embarrassing loss.
Robert Ferringo keeps proving himself to be one of the best college basketball handicappers in the nation. His college basketball picks have earned $100 bettors over $16,000 in the last twoseasons. Another strong card is coming today and you can get his pick HERE for only $30.
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