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What Happened: East Region

by Photo of Geoff Hutchinson

The East bracket held pretty much true to form, minus one surprise contender

What Happened: East Region

After an eventful weekend, the NCAA tournament field has been narrowed down from 68 participants to 16. CHARGED.fm is here to recap what exactly happened during the first weekend of the NCAA tournament in the East Region.

Most Impressive Team: Cincinnati Bearcats

The hottest team left in this region proved that they were worthy of the #6 seed that they received from the tournament committee. The undersized Bearcats outrebounded the much bigger Seminoles in their Round of 32 game en route to a 62-56 victory over the #3 seed 'Noles. In their opening game matchup, Cincinnati jumped out to an early lead against the #11-seeded Texas Longhorns, before holding off Texas for a 65-59 win. Cincinnati held both of their opponents to under 40% shooting from the field, while also out-rebounding both opponents as well. The well-balanced Bearcats have used their four guard lineup to cause matchup issues for its first two opponents.

Most Disappointing Team: Florida State Seminoles

The Seminoles entered the tournament winners of 5 straight, including victories over Duke and UNC to secure the 'Noles first-ever ACC Tournament championship. However, things were a different story for Florida State once the tournament started. The #3-seeded Seminoles struggled throughout most of their opening matchup versus the #14-seeded St. Bonaventure Bonnies before pulling out the 66-63 victory. In their Round of 32 matchup versus the Cincinnati Bearcats, the struggles continued as the team shot 38% from the field, along with 17 turnovers. Many pundits predicted that this Florida State squad would break out, but its annual inability to execute on the offensive side of the ball hindered them once again.

Most Surprising Team: Wisconsin Badgers

The reason why the Badgers are the most surprising team in this region is not because it was unexpected that they would be in the Sweet 16 at the moment. As the #4-seed, the Badgers should've been expected to make it to the round of 16. However, it is how they won their 2 games that were surprising. 

In their Round of 64 matchup versus Montana, Wisconsin dominated the Grizzlies en route to a 73-49 thrashing. The 24-point drubbing was particularly surprising considering the fact that Wisconsin plays at the slowest pace in the NCAA. The Badgers won their Round of 32 game versus Vanderbilt despite shooting 10-33 from 3 point range. Earlier in the season, Wisconsin looked like they might have not been capable of going this far in the tourney, as they started Big Ten conference play at 1-3. Fortunately for coach Bo Ryan, the Badgers got things in order and they will now face #1-seeded Syracuse in the Sweet 16 on Thursday.

Player of the Weekend: Deshaun Thomas, Ohio State

Previously, I mentioned that William Buford, not Jared Sullinger would be the X-Factor for the Ohio State Buckeyes. However, through two games, the best player for the Buckeyes has been forward Deshaun Thomas. He leads all tournament participants with 30 points in the paint, along with 12 second-chance points. He is averaging 24.5 points per game along with 9.5 rebounds in Ohio State's 2 tournament games, including a 31 point and 12 rebound performance against Loyola (Md.) on Thursday. His personal 12-0 run against Gonzaga in the third round led Ohio State's big first half comeback and propelled them to the win in that game.

Honorable Mention: Jordan Taylor, Wisconsin; Rodney McGruder, Kansas State

Best Game: Wisconsin 60 -Vanderbilt 57

The Badgers jumped out to an early 10-2 lead on the Commodores, led by forward Ryan Evans. The Commodores were able to regain their footing, and get back into the matchup versus Wisconsin. Both teams battled back and forth throughout the whole game, with neither team really gaining a grasp of the lead. Wisconsin did a great job of taking Vanderbilt wingmen John Jenkins and Jeffery Taylor out of their games and holding them both under their season averages. Wisconsin won the game thanks to a Jordan Taylor three pointer with 1:45 left in the game to put the Badgers up 59-57. Vanderbilt was unable to score after that moment, and ended up losing 60-57.

Honorable Mention: Syracuse 72 - UNC-Asheville 65; FSU 66 - St. Bonaventure 63

Biggest What-If: Vanderbilt's last offensive set versus Wisconsin on Saturday

There are many moments from this region that could have fit into this situation, but we are going to go with the most clear-cut situation. What would've happened if John Jenkins, a 44% 3-point shooter, had made an open 3 with 6 seconds left in Wisconsin/Vanderbilt's Round of 32 matchup on Saturday. The three would've given Vanderbilt a 60-59 lead with 6 seconds left in the game. Unfortunately for the Commodores, Jenkins, who struggled from three all game long, missed the jumper and the Commodores were unable to corral the offensive rebound; Wisconsin went on to make a free throw to go up 60-57 with 1.8 seconds left in the game. A last-second heave by Vanderbilt's Lance Goulbourne was deflected by Wisconsin's Jared Berggren to essentially ice the game.

Let CHARGED.fm get you tickets to the NCAA Tournament East Regional in Boston.

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