Men's Basketball 2016 NCAA Tournament East Regional Overview


East Regional Overview


The East Regional is a group of heavy hitters this season. Some of the biggest names in college basketball history grace the East. North Carolina, Indiana and Kentucky are nothing but three of the most famous schools in the sport’s history who all happen to be having stellar years. The rest of this region isn’t too shabby either. The group as a whole is led by great backcourts and big rebounding numbers. The coaching storylines are fascinating as well: Wisconsin being led by former interim coach Greg Gard; Indiana’s Tom Crean getting himself off the annual coaching hot seat; current Hall of Fame coach Roy Williams and perhaps future Hall of Famer Bob Huggins are here as well, not to mention the peerless John Calipari.


#1 North Carolina, #2 Xavier, #3 West Virginia, #4 Kentucky, #5 Indiana, #6 Notre Dame, #7 Wisconsin, #8 USC, #9 Providence, #10 Pittsburgh, #11 Michigan/Tulsa, #12 Chattanooga, #13 Stony Brook, #14 Stephen F. Austin, #15 Weber State, #16 Florida Gulf Coast/Fairleigh Dickinson


Who Can Win?

Obviously, the top-seeded North Carolina Tar Heels can win this region. They arguably have the highest ceiling of any team in the country. With a roster that goes 10 deep on its shallowest of days, UNC lacks a big star this season, but it wins with quality of depth. Outside of the top club, the rest of the top five seeds in this region also have the potential to advance. All of Xavier, West Virginia, Kentucky and Indiana have that ceiling and potential. Xavier and West Virginia both throw different defenses at opponents and control the glass to prevent easy looks. Kentucky and Indiana can outperform anyone with their outside play.


Who Can Surprise?

In most cases it would be a surprise to say the four or five seed could advance to the Final Four. In the East region this year, it hardly seems that surprising when you look at the teams. Kentucky is a four and may have the best backcourt in the country. Tyler Ulis and Jamal Murray are sensational. Indiana is a five seed and it can out-shoot anyone on any given night. Surely North Carolina is elated to be the number one seed in the East, but it must be peeved after seeing how the top of the region shook out. It is unlikely that anyone outside of the top five can advance through to the Final Four, but that is hardly abnormal.


Who’s Hot?

Is there any acceptable answer other than Stephen F. Austin? The Lumberjacks were 7-5 entering the new calendar year. Since the months ticked over to January, SFA has gone 20-0 to finish the season with a record of 27-5. It hasn’t lost a single game in 2016. It’s just another year for this team in the Southland Conference.


Who’s Cold?

Despite winning the ACC title, North Carolina is oddly not hot. The Tar Heels have lost four times since the start of February. Of course, it would be a stretch to deem them cold. Xavier has also lost three of its five times during the season’s final month-plus, but again, calling a 27-5 team cold is misleading. Outside of the play-in teams who may not have deserved a tournament berth in the first place, Notre Dame’s play has been down recently. The Irish went just 6-7 down the stretch and got absolutely crushed by North Carolina in the ACC tournament. USC is the coldest though, having lost seven of its final 10 games to finish out the season. 


Upset Alert!

If a 10-seed over a 7-seed qualifies as enough of an upset, Wisconsin needs to be on high alert. The Badgers do their prototypical slowdown attack to grind out games and garner the most value they can out of every possession, except they don’t finish possessions with enough quality shots. Wisconsin shoots just 43 percent as a team. Pittsburgh isn’t a good shooting team either, but it does all the other stuff better than Wisconsin: passing, rebounding, free-throw shooting. The Panthers are likely the superior club play by play. The Wisconsin blueprint may do nothing but push Wisconsin right out of the NCAA Tournament this season.


What Possible Matchup is Interesting?

Having Indiana versus Kentucky in the second round would be spectacular. The Hoosiers, as stated, are an elite shooting team. Led by senior guard Yogi Ferrell, Indiana is 11th in the nation in scoring and is a top-five club in shooting and three-point shooting. When it’s hot, no one is better. Yet, Kentucky has the guards to hang with IU. Ulis and Murray together average 37 points per game. The freshmen frontcourt matchup of Thomas Bryant versus Skal Labissiere will be fascinating as well. There are other teams who may prove to be better when the East is all said and done, but no matchup will be more entertaining than this if it comes to fruition.


Which Player Will Dominate?

So many teams in this region have stud players. The top-seeded Tar Heels aren’t even one of them. Kris Dunn and Ben Bentil for Providence; Ferrell for Indiana; the Kentucky guards; Zach Auguste on Notre Dame or Trevon Bluiett on Xavier.

However, the most intriguing two stars are on teams scrounging for a first-round upset: Stony Brook’s Jameel Warney and Weber State’s Joel Bolomboy. Warney and Bolomboy are capable of winning games by themselves, yet each has a running mate that takes the load off of him. With brutal matchups to start the tournament, it is unlikely either plays long enough to dominate, but they may prove to be the most valuable pieces for anyone in the East.


Which System is Tough to Prepare For?

The Xavier Musketeers rotate in a 1-3-1 zone that can give opponents fits, but the answer here is the West Virginia press, aptly named Press Virginia. Five different Mountaineer players averaged at least 1.0 steals per game this season. The team finished as the number one team in the country in steals and sixth nationally in turnover margin. Against inexperienced teams or rosters with weak guard play, the WVU defense is death. The Mountaineers also rebound exceedingly well, which is rare for a team that presses and plays shifting, alternative defensive sets. It makes it so hard on opponents to get anything easy.



East Region Round of 64 Game Breakdowns



Midwest Regional Overview

Midwest Region Round of 64 Game Breakdowns


South Regional Overview

South Region Round of 64 Game Breakdowns


West Regional Overview

West Region Round of 64 Game Breakdowns



Tournament Central