Wednesday, March 14, 2007

East Region Preview


The East Rutherford Region has the potential to be the best region in the NCAA Tournament. There is talent and depth abound across the region, and the best player in the country, Kevin Durant, is sitting there relatively silent at the #4 spot with his Longhorns. Don’t forget Georgetown, the Big East champions, or North Carolina, the ACC champions. There are several non-BCS sleepers in this region, as well, including the two teams that “stole” at-large bids in George Washington and New Mexico State. It will be an interesting couple of weeks, to say the least.

Favorite: North Carolina. The Tar Heels might be the deepest and most talented team in the country. They can score on anyone, and love to get up and down the court. Tyler Hansbrough is a load to stop down low, and Brandan Wright is long and athletic. Wayne Ellington can shoot the lights-out, and Tywon Lawson might be the quickest player in the country. Reyshawn Terry is their x-factor.

Other Contenders: Georgetown, Washington State. The Hoyas are one of the hottest teams in the country, winning 15 of their last 16, and dominating Pittsburgh to win the Big East Championship. They are led by a terrific frontcourt duo in Jeff Green and Roy Hibbert. Green is a do-it-all player that can score in a variety of ways, while Hibbert is developing into a star down low. Jonathan Wallace and Jessie Sapp are underrated in the backcourt. Washington State looked like a legit Final Four sleeper a few weeks ago, but they haven’t played as well lately. Still, they really get after it on the defensive end, and limit opportunities for the opponent. Derrick Low and Kyle Weaver form one of the most underrated backcourts in the country, and the Cougars have a decent frontcourt to provide balance.

Texas, USC. I have a feeling you’re going to see plenty of “Texas” picks in the Final Four of your office pool. That is because of one reason—Kevin Durant. He is clearly the best player in the country, and can carry the Longhorns on his back to the promised land. Throw in D.J. Augustin, one of the best point guards around, and A.J. Abrams, a very good shooter, and Texas is tough. I’ve liked USC for weeks now. They play excellent defense (don’t look at tape of the Pac-10 title game. Just don’t, trust me), and have plenty of options offensively. Nick Young is one of the best wings in the country, and can score in a variety of ways. Gabe Pruitt and Lodrick Stewart can shoot the three, and Taj Gibson is the most underrated freshman post player in America.

Non-BCS Teams to Watch: George Washington, New Mexico State. While the Colonials didn’t receive as much publicity as they did last year, they’re a very similar team to last season, despite only returning one starter from that team. They are extremely athletic, and can give teams trouble with their pressure. Maureece Rice and Carl Elliot form a great backcourt, and GW has athletes aplenty up front. Looking for a deep sleeper? Look no further (not that you can) than the WAC Champion Aggies. New Mexico State has plenty of athletes and a lot of depth, mostly from major-conference transfers. Justin Hawkins is a much underrated performer, and can do it all. Elijah Ingram is a solid point guard, and Tyrone Nelson is tough down low. Don’t sleep on NMSU.

Upset Pick: Oral Roberts over Washington State. This could be the one deep upset of the Tournament. The Cougars don’t have a lot of size inside, and Caleb Green is one of the best post players in the country. Ken Tutt can really shoot it. If Oral Roberts doesn’t get frustrated against WSU’s defense, they could win. In another match-up, will Arkansas prove its worth against USC?

Top Five Players (only one per team):
1. Kevin Durant, Texas
2. Jeff Green, Georgetown
3. Jared Dudley, Boston College
4. Tyler Hansbrough, North Carolina
5. Nick Young, USC
5a. Derrick Byars, Vanderbilt


  1. Arkansas could win if they have Charles Thomas healthy.

  2. You got to be kidding me that Neitzel isn't in your top 5 players. He should be at least 3. He absolutely carried Michigan St. on their back.