NCAA Tournament Breakdowns - East, Part 2
Miami's Shane Larkin
Miami's Shane Larkin
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Mar 19, 2013


Quick analysis of every team in the NCAA tournament so you'll know what you're doing.

2013 NCAA Basketball Tourney

East - Bottom Half


By Phil Harrison
Follow me on Twitter @PhilHarrisonCFN
 
2013 NCAA Basketball Tournament Team Breakdowns
Play-In Games | South - Top Half | South - Bottom Half 
East - Top Half | East - Bottom Half
Midwest - Top Half | Midwest - Bottom Half
West - Top Half | West - Bottom Half

Yeah, yeah, yeah, we know, we're CollegeFOOTBALLNews.com, but like the rest of the world, we take a wee bit of a break for the first round of the NCAA college basketball tournament. Before you fill out your bracket - DON'T GUESS - check out the quick breakdown of each team with what you need to know to make an informed decision.
 
6. Butler (26-8)
Here’s The Deal: Cinderella no more, the Bulldogs have become a real, live threat. As usual, this year’s team is well-schooled at the fundamentals, and while Brad Stevens might lack some of the athletic freaks other teams have, his team makes up for it in the little things. Other than rebounding the basketball, when you watch the Bulldogs there’s not a lot of things that’ll project nightmares. Still, the team plays together, hangs in games, and then finds ways to send opponents home wondering what happened. Want proof? How about wins against Marquette, Indiana, North Carolina and Gonzaga. However, there have also been too many head-scratchers to go along with these big wins – consistency is a huge problem.
Player You Need To Care About: Some players epitomize the programs they represent. That description is a sure-fire fit for the talents of senior guard Rotnei Clarke, the Bulldogs’ leading scorer who does much of his work from the next area code. His best trait is his tenacity, hard-work, and spot up marksmanship – just like the Butler program.
Really, How Deep Will The Run Be? The Bulldogs aren't a sleepers anymore, and they'll get by Bucknell and give Marquette a hard time in a loss.

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11. Bucknell (28-5)
Here’s The Deal: The Bison double-dipped by winning the Patriot League regular-season and tournament title. They hung around with the big-boys, too, with a two-point loss against Missouri on the road. Combine a starting five with three seniors and two juniors, and the experience and wherewithal is there to be composed and not lost in the moment. Like a veteran team should, Bucknell takes extreme care of the basketball, makes extra passes to get open looks and plays solid defense in both the frontcourt and backcourt. You could do worse in picking a Cinderella team, but the inability to hit from long-range on a consistent basis could hurt at some point.
Player You Need To Care About: 6-11 Senior center Mike Muscala is without a doubt the main force, averaging a double-double with 19 points and 11 rebounds per game, and finding ways to swat away more than two shots each time out. He’s a giant who can score down-low but isn’t afraid to kick it out when things are doubled down on him. He can change a game in many ways, and has the experience and talent to not get rattled by all the hubbub of the bright lights.
Really, How Deep Will The Run Be? Bucknell has the potential to out-Butler, Butler, but there won’t be enough scoring punch in the clutch to advance.

3. Marquette (23-8)
Here’s The Deal: The Golden Eagles shared the Big East title this year with the right type of lunchpail group that isn’t afraid to do all the little things right. They don’t do anything great, but are a jack-of-all-trades across the board type squad that rarely makes big mistakes. They play solid defense, share the ball, and seem to be in the right position all the time. They have the ability to stay within arm’s reach against anyone, and then pounce on mistakes.
Player You Need To Care About: Surely you’ve heard of junior guard Vander Blue. He led the team in scoring during the regular season at over 14 points a game, but he’s long enough at 6-4 to help out on the boards and guard the perimeter on the defensive-end. The shooting percentage isn’t great, but he’s grown in his ability and understanding of getting the ball to the rim for easier opportunities and freebies at the line. When the clock is winding down in the tournament with survival on the line for the Golden Eagles, Vander Blue will be the guy.
Really, How Deep Will The Run Be? The Golden Eagles will roll into the Sweet 16 before they get outplayed and beaten up by a far more talented Miami team.

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14. Davidson (26-7)
Here’s The Deal: Davidson is the best team in the Southern Conference during the regular-season, and that played out to be true in the conference tourney as well. If getting to the tournament on a roll is a good sign, then the seventeen-straight wins is a major plus helped by the rare double of shooting a decent percentage while holding opponents’ shooting percentage down. And although the Wildcats don’t force many turnovers, they also don’t give the ball away very much. If the game comes down to free-throw shooting, advantage Davidson, who leads the country by making over 80% of its free-throws.
Player You Need To Care About: 6-10 forward Jake Cohen leads the team in scoring, field-goal percentage and blocks, but he can do it all hitting 38% of his threes. If he doesn’t have a gigantic game, the Wildcats will be a quick out, but he’s too good in too many areas.
Really, How Deep Will The Run Be? Marquette is too sound and too tough. Davidson will play well, and it won’t matter.

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7. Illinois (22-12)
Here’s The Deal: What a roller-coaster ride it has been for the Fighting Illini. They rattled off 12 straight to start the season, including more than comfortable wins against Butler and Gonzaga, and then the Big Ten started and John Groce’s gang looked scattered and out of sorts going 2-7 record halfway through the campaign. Recently though, Illinois has begun to get its sea legs back playing more aggressive, taking better shots and gaining confidence. Just like their season has gone, the shooting has been extremely streaky. They seem programmed to take a lot of threes and tough, contested shots, but when they’re putting the ball through the hole, it’s a team that can beat anyone. The chances of making a run in March hinge on one thing - consistency.
Player You Need To Care About: Did we mention streaky? Illinois has seen good and bad runs with its win/loss record and in-game shooting, so it makes sense that its best player is as streaky as the night sky during an asteroid shower. When senior guard Brandon Paul is in the zone, he can hit shots standing on his head while blindfolded. But there were too many times when he’s been thrown off his game and even a layup seemed to be a challenge. Still, Paul is the leading scorer and most dangerous scoring threat, and without him, Illinois is sitting home watching all the madness.
Really, How Deep Will The Run Be? The Illini will have too many problems for long stretches against Colorado and won’t do enough in the interior to get a win.

10. Colorado (21-11)
Here’s The Deal: The Buffaloes haven’t necessarily done anything that jumps off the page, but then again, they haven’t done anything negative, either. Fact is, we didn’t really know what we were going to get from Colorado this year, so a 10-8 finish in the Pac-12 regular season should be considered a plus type of year. The offense won’t bomb away from deep, but it’ll look to play solid defense, rebound the ball, and just stay in striking distance. If there’s been a glaring weakness, it’s been the too many turnovers at times and not enough sharing of the ball. This is an average team that could spring an upset or two if it gets hot, but it’ll be tough to do much more.
Player You Need To Care About: Junior forward Andre Roberson is the second leading scorer on the team, but more importantly, he’s the country’s leading rebounder at nearly 12 snatches a game and is the most talented player on the roster. He plays bigger than his 6-7 frame because of his leaping ability and knack for knowing how to get to the ball. He earned the Pac-12’s Defensive Player of the Year honor by averaging 2.3 steals per game and 1.4 blocks per contest, with 11 double-doubles during the regular season. That's not too shabby.
Really, How Deep Will The Run Be? The Buffs will be just solid enough to upset Illinois, but then will run into a buzzsaw in Miami.

2. Miami (27-6)
Here’s The Deal: If you thought it was a fluke that the Canes won the regular-season title, that ship sailed after they rolled to the ACC tournament championship. This became a dominant team largely because of a starting lineup that included four seasoned seniors and a talented sophomore point-guard that was able to create and get the ball to the right spots on the floor. Miami plays solid defense, and when clicking on all cylinders can be a train steaming downhill. The two blowout wins at home against North Carolina and Duke are the templates for what this team can do, and while there was a little bit of a stumble at the end of the ACC regular season, they were able to regain focus and right the ship.
Player You Need To Care About: Miami wouldn’t be one of the most pleasant surprises of this college basketball season without the exploits of sophomore point guard Shane Larkin. His dad might be a Hall of Fame baseball player, but Larkin is making a name for himself by being a big part of putting the Hurricanes on the college basketball map. He’s a solid shooter, seems to always get the ball in the hands of the right matchup, and doesn’t take a break on defense. And when all else fails and the offense needs a creative play, he’s more than capable of making something happen on his own. As Larkin plays at a high level, so too does the U.
Really, How Deep Will The Run Be? Anything less than the Final Four will be a major disappointment. This is too steady and too tough a team in all phases for any sort of a letdown before getting by Indiana to get to Atlanta.

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15. Pacific (22-12)
Here’s The Deal: The Big West automatic qualifier isn’t a mediocre team just getting by and punching a ticket because of a hot run in a conference tourney, this is a good offensive team that can get into a shootout. The Tigers aren’t the best at holding opposing shooters in check, but they equalize it by knocking down some threes of their own. As far as taking care of the ball, they make sound decisions, but the lack of inside presence is going to hurt big-time against a matchup that can exploit it.
Player You Need To Care About: Just one player averages over 10 points per game, senior guard Lorenzo McCloud. He’s a heady player that can take advantage of opportunities to get to the foul-line, and will step out and hit long-range jumpers when not setting things up for teammates. He’ll have to look to score more and elevate his game if Pacific has any intentions of sticking around for more than a taste.
Really, How Deep Will The Run Be? The free trip to Austin will be fun, but it won’t be a long stay after dealing with Miami.

2013 NCAA Basketball Tournament Team Breakdowns
Play-In Games | South - Top Half | South - Bottom Half 
East - Top Half | East - Bottom Half
Midwest - Top Half | Midwest - Bottom Half
West - Top Half | West - Bottom Half