The Ohio State Buckeyes may be the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament, but they have arguably the most treacherous road to the Final Four of a top seed in any of the four regions. The East is home to national champion coaches Jim Boeheim of Syracuse and Roy Williams of North Carolina, under-seeded Kentucky and four total Big East teams. But none of the above can claim to have made three straight Sweet 16s; that honor goes to the East’s No. 6 seed, Xavier.

Final Four Contenders

No. 1 Ohio State

This is stating the obvious, but the Buckeyes are the odds-on favorites in this region despite their stiff competition. Freshman forward Jared Sullinger is a player of the year candidate and a possible No. 1 overall pick in this year’s NBA draft, and he has a number of sharp shooters around him to work a formidable inside-out game.

No. 4 Kentucky

Expect the Wildcats to meet Sullinger & Co. in the Sweet 16, and expect the winner to go to the Final Four. Kentucky boasts a talented and athletic group headlined by the freshman tandem of guard Brandon Knight and forward Terrence Jones, and if they manage to knock off Ohio State, it’s tough to see them losing in the Elite Eight.

Sleeper

No. 7 Washington

In part due to North Carolina’s recent struggles against teams like Miami and Clemson in the ACC tournament and in part due to their own Pac-10 tourney championship, the Huskies are a trendy pick to go to the Sweet 16. Don’t be surprised if they go one step further, though.

Player to Watch

Guard Jon Diebler, Ohio State

This senior marksman is shooting 50 percent from three-point range on the season. If the Buckeyes are trailing or tied in the closing moments of a game, he’ll get his chance to hit one of those iconic NCAA tournament triples at the buzzer.

Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*