Sick of hard-hitting analysis of the 2022 NCAA Tournament? Up to your eyeballs in expert picks chock-full of astute takes on players to watch and budding upsets?
Fear not, friends: your pals at Anonymous Eagle are here to inject some half-baked, homespun “insight” into the proceedings, with our (mostly) 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/team we’d pay to watch; a player most likely to carry his team singlehandedly to the Sweet 16; and the best player in the region that you’ve never heard of before.
Let’s see what Bracketville has in store for us in the East Region.....
GUTLESS WONDER Pick To Win The Region
Baylor might be the #1 seed here, and thus the favorite, but I’m going to go with Kentucky instead. The #2 seeded Wildcats are still a damn good basketball team and they’ve got a heavy favorite to win National Player of the Year on their roster in Oscar Tshiebwe. Mix in a heavy dose of “Baylor doesn’t have LJ Cryer or Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua available,” and it certainly seems like you can pencil in John Calipari’s guys to the Final Four.
CHEX BOLD PARTY MIX Bold Pick To Win The Region
Look no further than the #3 seed in the region here. If you take Purdue to win the East, you are flying by the seat of your pants on a wing and a prayer. Sure, they’ve got dudes who are going to do good things for them. Jaden Ivey: Great. Trevion Williams: Great. Zach Edey: Great. All fine and cool and good. You know what they don’t have going for them? Anything resembling defense. KenPom.com’s #3 offense in the country is paired with the #100 defense. Out of the top 30 KenPom teams to make the field of 68, Purdue is the worst defensive team. Mix a near refusal to create turnovers with a positively mediocre shooting percentage defense, and riding with Purdue means you are just praying to the basketball gods that they shoot everyone right out of the gym for four straight games.
CRUSH YOUR MAN Upset Special
The ACC tournament champion — and according to conference bylaws, the actual 2022 ACC champion — is a #11 seed in this tournament. Yes, I’m talking about Mike Young and Virginia Tech. Yes, they’re a #11 seed for a reason, and that reason is that they were 10-10 overall on January 27th with losses to NC State and Virginia and Boston College, none of whom made the NCAA tourney. The Hokies are also 13-2 in their last 15 games, so it’s not like they just caught fire for a couple of days in Brooklyn to capture the ACC crown.
They’re going up against a #6 seeded Texas team that has gotten kicked around a bit in Big 12 play and has ultimately wildly underperformed preseason expectations with first year head coach Chris Beard. This one’s a cointoss in KenPom’s eyes, so do what you need to do.
BONUS PICK: KenPom actually has #10 San Francisco favored to beat #7 Murray State. Not by much, just 55%, but it’s still a Lower Seed Favored situation.
Player I’d Pay To Watch
I already tipped my hand here, because my pick is Kentucky’s Oscar Tshiebwe. Did you realize that the 6’9” junior is #2 in the country in offensive rebounding rate.... and #1 in defensive rebounding rate? Maybe it’s just because Marquette is awful at rebounding this year, but watching literally The Best Rebounder In The Country do his thing for 40 minutes sounds wildly fascinating to me.
The Chiropractor Special aka: Who Can Put The Team On His Back?
Who are we kidding here? It’s Johnny Juzang. We’ve seen the UCLA wing do it already. He did it last year, going for at least 20 points in four of the Bruins’ six NCAA tournament games to get them to the Final Four. What’s stopping him from catching fire and doing it again? Heck, if you wanted to say it’s teammate Jaime Jaquez instead, that’s totally fine. There’s a real chance that Jaquez suddenly reverts to his 39% three-point shooting self from last season instead of the 29% he’s put up this year.
Best Guy You’ve Never Heard Of
Can I interest you in the MEAC Player of the Year? Joe Bryant led Norfolk State to the MEAC regular season and tournament titles while leading the team in scoring, assists, and steals. He also looks like he has been giving those rapscallions at the the local rec center absolute hell for the last 15 years, and it’s always fun when that kind of dude has a big moment in the sun. NSU is the #16 seed going up against Baylor, so be sure to get in the door early to see him go to work.