2014 NCAA Tournament Picks: East



NCAA Tournament Picks: South | West | Midwest | East | Final Four

2014 NCAA Tournament Bracket Breakdowns:
South | West | Midwest | East

2014 NCAA Tournament: Bracket Breakdown – East Bracket

By David Kay – @David_Kmiecik

By David Kay – @David_Kmiecik


Overview

You cannot fault the committee for giving Virginia the No. 1 seed after Villanova shot its chances by losing to Seton Hall in the Big East Tournament Quarterfinals. Neither Virginia nor Villanova is “sexy” or has any NBA talent on it, but play terrific team basketball. No. 3 Iowa State and No. 4 Michigan State each won its respective tournament title and is equally as capable of making the Final Four as the top-two seeds.

I was surprised that Connecticut only earned a No. 7 seed, but the American Athletic Conference was downgraded as a whole as evident by SMU not making the tourney and Louisville only getting a No. 4 seed despite being one of the hottest teams in the country. Another thing worth keeping an eye on: this bracket is loaded with talented backcourts and superb guard play.

Best Opening-Round Game


No. 6 North Carolina vs. No. 11 Providence

No team played down or up to the level of its competition this season as much as North Carolina. The Tar Heels did get hot at the end of the regular season by stringing together 12 straight victories. The Friars needed a strong Big East Tournament since they were firmly on the bubble and ended up winning the whole thing earning an automatic bid. Providence can only go six deep, which is a concern, but Bryce Cotton has been a beast all season and has what it takes to single-handedly lead his team to the upset. Then again, Nort Carolina point guard Marcus Paige is in that category as well.




Opening-Round Upset


No. 12 Harvard over No. 5 Cincinnati

As a No. 14-seed last season, the Crimson upset New Mexico in the first round and is poised to do the same to Cincinnati in the dreaded No. 5/No. 12 matchup. Most of the core is intact from that team along with the addition of two key players who were suspended for last season. Harvard relies on its depth as the team has six players who average at least nine points per game, while the Bearcats lean heavily on Sean Kilpatrick since the rest of their team is rather anemic offensively. Contain Kilpatrick and the Crimson should once again pull off the upset.

Sleeper


No. 7 Connecticut

You always hear that guard play carries a team in the NCAA Tournament, and the Huskies have an All-American point guard in Shabazz Napier and a pretty decent backcourt mate in Ryan Boatright. Napier was on the 2011 team that won a National Title, so the experience is there. A second-round game versus former Big East foe Villanova is looming in the second round, which would be a battle of guard-heavy talent.




Five Impact Players to Watch

DeAndre Kane, No. 3 Iowa State

Kane arguably made the biggest impact of any first-year transfer in college basketball. While the Cyclones have plenty of talent and scoring ability, Kane has been the driving force all season long due to his ability to make an impact in all areas of the game.

Joe Harris, No. 1 Virginia

Tony Bennett’s team has excelled all season due to its team concept and unselfishness. Still, the Cavaliers will need someone to hit big shots down the stretch if they are going to make the most of their No. 1 seed. Harris has been streaky this season from the outside, but is Virginia’s go-to option when need be.

Keith Appling, No. 4 Michigan State

There’s good Keith Appling and bad Keith Appling. If the former shows up, Michigan State can cut down the nets. If the latter makes his presence felt, Tom Izzo will freak and the Spartans could get bounced early. Michigan State will go as deep as Appling takes it.

Devon Saddler, Davon Usher, Jarvis Threatt, No. 13 Delaware

I’m cheating here by choosing three guys for one spot. Deal with it. This trio of experienced guards combine for about 57 points per game; the highest-scoring threesome of players in college hoops. If the Blue Hens were pitted against a No. 4 seed other than Michigan State, I would like their upset potential. I just don’t see it happening against the Spartans.

Halil Kanacevic, No. 10 Saint Joseph’s

The big fella came up huge for the Hawks during their run to the Atlantic-10 Conference championship and must keep that momentum going if St. Joseph’s is going to get past the first weekend. Kanacevic can bang down low but also use his face-up game to knock down mid-range jumpers.



Opening-Round Picks

No. 1 Virginia over No. 16 Coastal Carolina

No. 8 Memphis over No. 9 George Washington

No. 12 Harvard over No. 5 Cincinnati

No. 4 Michigan State over No. 13 Delaware

No. 11 Providence over No. 6 North Carolina

No. 3 Iowa State over No. 14 North Carolina Central

No. 7 Connecticut over No. 10 Saint Joseph’s

No. 2 Villanova over No. 15 Milwaukee

Second-Round Picks

No. 1 Virginia over No. 8 Memphis

No. 4 Michigan State over No. 12 Harvard

No. 3 Iowa State over No. 11 Providence

No. 2 Villanova over No. 7 Connecticut

Sweet 16 Picks

No. 4 Michigan State over No. 1 Virginia

No. 3 Iowa State over No. 2 Villanova

Elite 8 Pick

No. 4 Michigan State over No. 3 Iowa State





NCAA Tournament Picks: South | West | Midwest | East | Final Four

2014 NCAA Tournament Bracket Breakdowns:
South | West | Midwest | East






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