Defense is the buzzword around the teams in the East region on the NCAA tournament. Syracuse, Wisconsin and Florida State have all put together impressive tournament resumes because of their ability to get stops. How far will this quality take them in the tournament? Here are my predictions for the east region:
No. 1 Syracuse Orange beats No. 16 North Carolina Asheville Bulldogs
This game will be over by halftime. Syracuse wins easily with its superior talent.
No. 8 Kansas State Wildcats beats No. 9 Southern Miss Golden Eagles
Though the Wildcats do not have a player that averages over seven rebounds, they rank No. 7 in offensive rebounding percentage in the game according to Ken Pomeroy's tempo-free statistics. Southern Miss's guards will have a tough time finishing in the paint against Kansas State's Jordan Henriquez who is averaging 2.4 blocks per game.
No. 5 Vanderbilt Commodores beats No. 12 Harvard Crimson
I'm a Vandy believer after their win over Kentucky in the SEC tournament championship game. The Commodores have a dependable scoring option down low in Jeffery Taylor and also have a good perimeter scorer in John Jenkins. I don't think Harvard will be able to contain these two players.
No. 4 Wisconsin Badgers beats No. 13 Montana Grizzlies
Montana will have a difficult time generating any offense against one of the top defensive teams in the country. The Badgers have sevens wins over tournament teams while the Grizzlies only game against a tournament team was a victory over Long Beach State back in December.
No. 11 Texas Longhorns beats No. 6 Cincinnati Bearcats
Easily one of the toughest games to pick, but Texas' backcourt combo of J'Covan Brown and Myck Kabongo will lead them to victory. Brown is the scorer (20.1 PPG), while Kabongo is the distributor (5.3 APG).
No. 3 Florida State Seminoles beats No. 14 St. Bonaventure Bonnies
St. Bonaventure will need to play the game of their lives to make it past the Seminoles. The defensive presence of Florida State's senior forwards Xavier Gibson and Bernard James along with the perimeter offensive attack of Michael Snaer and Ian Miller will help this well-balanced team move on.
No. 7 Gonzaga Bulldogs beats No. 10 West Virginia Mountaineers
Will Robert Sacre, Elias Harris, and Kevin Pangos all play up to their potential? If two of these players step up for the Zags, I think they'll win a close one over West Virginia. Gonzaga's Sam Dower and Sacre will both have to contain West Virginia's Kevin Jones who is averaging 20 points a game.
No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes beats No. 15 Loyola (MD.) Greyhounds
I'm predicting a 20-point blowout. Loyola's best win on its schedule is an 87-81 victory over Iona. The Greyhounds should be happy they've made it this far.
No. 1 Syracuse Orange beats No. 8 Kansas State Wildcats
The Wildcats will need some offensive production from sophomore Will Spradling and freshman Angel Rodriguez if they want to have a chance against Syracuse. The Orange's backcourt plays well on both ends of the court, while Kansas State is sporadic in that regard.
No. 5 Vanderbilt Commodores beats No. 4 Wisconsin Badgers
Which Taylor will have the big game in this matchup? Wisconsin's Jordan Taylor is a do-it-all kind of guard for the Badgers, while Jeffery Taylor on Vanderbilt is a prototypical small forward that can grab a couple of boards and take initiative at driving to the basket. I'm betting that Jeffery shows up and plays one of his better games of the season against Wisconsin; he tends to play better against better competition as made evident in Vanderbilt's victories over ranked teams this season.
No. 3 Florida State Seminoles beats No. 11 Texas Longhorns
The Seminoles have simply proven they can not only hang with the top teams in the nation, but actually beat them as well. Texas' lack of experience will hurt it against a polished and hungry Florida State squad.
No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes beats No. 7 Gonzaga Bulldogs
I'm looking forward to seeing Robert Sacre and Jared Sullinger go at it in this game, but I think the result will depend on the performance of Gonzaga's guard play. Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell Jr. will need to hit big shots to keep their team in it. The experience of William Buford and Aaron Craft in the backcourt for the Buckeyes will put this team into the Sweet 16.
No. 1 Syracuse Orange beats No. 5 Vanderbilt Commodores
Don't be surprised if this game ends up coming to the final seconds, but Syracuse has proven it can pull away the single-digit margin victories. The Orange take care of the basketball on offense and are one of the top shot-blocking and stealing teams in the country.
No. 3 Florida State Seminoles beats No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes
The Seminoles victories over Duke and North Carolina tell us that this team can handle elite big men. If Florida State can keep Jared Sullinger's offensive production down, I see no reason why this team could not pull off another upset.
No. 1 Syracuse Orange beats No. 3 Florida State Seminoles
Florida State's run ends here because of Syracuse's ability to score on the perimeter. Syracuse's Dion Waiters and forward Kris Joseph will be the offensive catalysts for the Orange in this victory.
Stay with this NCAA Predictions StoryStream throughout the day as SBN Seattle's crack team of bracketologists give you their picks.