Fear not, friends: your pals at Anonymous Eagle are here to inject some half-baked, homespun "insight" into the proceedings, with our annual region-by-region tour, as we go Anonymously Through the Brackets.
For each region, we'll give you our patented Anonymous Eagle Half-Arsed Analysis with: a gutless pick to win the region; a sleeper regional champ; a CRUSH YOUR MAN upset special; a player we'd pay to watch; and something you're not going to want to see.
Without further ado:
MR. KENSINGTON VISITS THE WIDE OPEN WEST
GUTLESS WONDER Pick to Win the Region: Of all the regions, the West appears to be the most wide open this year. So anything could happen. However, anyone who's anyone is taking the no. 2 seed Ohio State to represent this region in the Final Four. The Buckeyes haven't lost since getting thumped by Wisconsin back on February 17th. They were last seen hoisting the B1G Championship trophy, after winning their conference tournament. With the B1G's leading scorer Deshaun Thomas leading the way and veteran point guard Aaron Craft running the show, it's pretty easy to see tOSU winning the West and possibly more.
Chex Bold Party Mix BOLD Pick to Win the Region: It seems weird to consider the region's top seed as a BOLD pick to reach the Final Four. But judging by the sentiments I've heard from professional basketball pundits and average fans alike, no one seems to consider Gonzaga to be a real threat to come out of the West. Sure this could be the year that Mark Few and Co. finally make a deep run. With a solid, and deep, frontcourt anchored by West Coast Conference Player of the Year Kelly Olynyk and eleventeenth year senior Elias Harris, Gonzaga ran roughshod over the WCC this year - piling up a gaudy 31-2 record and the number one ranking in both polls. But that league wasn't as good as it has been in the past. St Mary's made the Tournament, but got shipped off to Dayton to play in the First Four. And BYU's best win was against Montana (RPI 74) on a neutral-ish court (Salt Lake City). So how impressive is that record really? And yes, the Zags took down Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Kansas State in the non-conference. But they also lost to Butler without Rotnei Clarke and got pummeled by Illinois AT the Kennel. So I guess it's understandable if picking Gonzaga to win the West feels like stepping out on a limb.
CRUSH YOUR MAN Upset Special: It's hard to pick an Upset Special in this region. But since I must, I'll say look out for Notre Dame against Ohio State if they meet in the Round of 32. The Irish are capable of dictating the tempo of the game, playing solid defense and burying 3-pointers at an alarming rate - much like the last team to fell the Buckeyes. So Thad Matta may want to keep the "Beat Bucky" playbook handy, and prepare to put it into practice one more time before making hotel reservations in LA.
Player I Would Pay to Watch: How could I possibly pick anyone other than Marshall Henderson here? Henderson has single-handedly put Ole Miss hoops back on the map this year. Actually, "back on the map" would imply that it had ever been there to begin with. Never in my lifetime have there been this many people giving a crap about the goings on of the Ole Miss basketball team, and it's all been because of this guy. Sure, he's scorer and a VOLUME shooter extraordinaire - 20 points per game on about 15 shots. But it's not his playing prowess that I'd pay to see. Henderson is more renowned for his antics than he is for his hoops. From his troll of the Auburn student section, to his gator chomp in the SEC title game, the junior transfer from Utah seems like he's always on the verge of starting a fist fight on the floor. One of these days it's going to happen. It might be with an opposing player, some fans, or maybe even with one of his own teammates. Sooner or later, something crazy is going to happen with that dude, and the chance to see that live would be too good to pass up.
Hide Your Eyes When: Wisconsin starts missing 3s. It's no secret, the Badgers shot a lot of 3-pointers. Their 755 3pt attempts this year, are the 11th most in all of Division I. Triples account for about 40% of their shot attempts each game. When they make 'em, they can be tough to beat. But when they're missing 'em, things can get ugly. There will be scoring droughts... Oh yes, there will be scoring droughts. In their 7 B1G losses the Badgers shot a combined 26% from long range, and averaged just 51 points per game. In the last two losses, to Michigan St and Ohio St, Bucky shot 7 for 41 beyond the arc and scored just 43 points in both games. Yuck.
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