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:
GUTLESS WONDER PICK TO WIN
Courtesy of their #2 seed, we get to select Xavier as our gutless pick to win the East region. The Musketeers have been ranked in the top 10 in the AP poll since mid-December, and they're entering the tournament with a record of 26-5. All of their losses this season have been against Big East teams that have experience playing against Chris Mack coached teams. They've got a top 20 offense, via KenPom, and their top 40 defense is made even better by their ability to flip in between man to man and their 1-3-1 zone.
Plus, there's the added benefit of cheering for Xavier to stack up wins in the tournament and bring home those NCAA shares to the Big East coffers.
CHEX BOLD PARTY MIX BOLD PICK TO WIN
Ok, look, if you're reading this website, you're most likely a Marquette fan, so I'm going to need you to sit down and get comfy before I share this one with you. Ready? Okay. Indiana is your BOLD pick to win here.
They're the five seed in the field, yet they won the Big Ten regular season title by two full games. Since the start of December, they've only lost five games, four of which were to teams that made the NCAA tournament, and none of which were at home. If you're worried about that loss to Penn State or that Big Ten tourney loss to Michigan, well, I'd like to remind you that Tom Crean lost at East Carolina and to UAB in the Conference USA tournament the same season that he guided Dwyane Wade and Marquette to the Final Four in 2003. Want another fun similarity? Indiana might have to go through Kentucky to get to the Final Four, although it would be in the Round of 32 instead of the Elite 8.
CRUSH YOUR MAN UPSET SPECIAL
Everyone started being in favor of Greg Gard getting the full time job at Wisconsin after the Badgers went into College Park and beat Maryland. Has anyone looked closely at what they've done since? Lost at Michigan State. Lost at Purdue. Won at Iowa, but the Hawkeyes are self-destructing in an amazing way. Lost to a Nebraska team that had played 24 hours earlier in the Big Ten tournament in Gard's first game after getting his five year contract.
Anyone else thinking this screams "Pitt easily steamrolls Wisconsin in a 10/7 upset because Jamie Dixon isn't afraid of the lights on the stage?"
PLAYER I'D PAY TO WATCH
You might need to make sure you catch his first round game, but my guy here is Stony Brook's Jameel Warney. The Seawolves got a 13 seed and square up with #4 Kentucky in the first round, so things might not go so well for the America East regular season and tournament champion.
However, this is the first tournament appearance in Stony Brook history, and more importantly, SBU has finally broken through past Albany. The Great Danes have knocked Stony Brook out of the America East tournament each of the last three years, even though they lost a total of nine league games in those seasons. They made it through this year, in Warney's senior year. He's one of the best shooters in the country (#18 in eFG%), one of the best rebounders at 6'8", 260 lb. (#19 OR%, #157 DR%), as well as towards the tops in block rate (#24) and turnover rate (#30). As you might guess, Warney is among the national leaders in Offensive Rating, too, ranking #15 with a rating of 129.3.
HIDE YOUR EYES WHEN
If you guys are long time Marquette fans, then you remember when Marquette played the Cincinnati teams that Bob Huggins coached. If you're a little more short term than that, you still probably remember Huggy Bear coaching at West Virginia when the Mountaineers were in the Big East.
My favorite memory of Bob Huggins coaching against Marquette is the time where he was issued a technical foul for yelling at one of his players when the player was in the same sight line for Huggins as one of the referees. That player was Darryl "Truck" Bryant." I think you can guess what the referee thought was happening.
ANYWAY, the point is that Bob Huggins is going to get angry at the 'Eers at some point in their tournament run. Might be in the first round against Stephen F. Austin (and the Lumberjacks are very good, so that's pretty likely), might be in the second round against Notre Dame or Michigan or Tulsa. Might happen later. But it's going to happen, and HOO BOY, Bob Huggins is not a pretty sight when he gets angry. It's entertaining, sure, but you probably shouldn't endure lasting damage to your retinas.