This guest post was written by Jason Osborne. Jason is an NCAA basketball fan and backs the North Carolina Tarheels. Here are some of this East Region predictions.
There are two teams in the East Region that are playing their best basketball of the season right now. Those teams are Florida State and Vanderbilt. Florida State is the biggest threat to Syracuse right now, not Ohio State. Before I get to FSU and Vandy, let’s discuss Ohio State.
Ohio State has one of the biggest impact players in the country in Jared Sullinger. He is a 6 foot 9, 265 pound basketball machine, averaging 17.6 points per game. He is also a perimeter threat, shooting near 40% from beyond the arc. That being said, Sullinger does not always play with a huge thirst for victory. He looked flat against Wisconsin and Michigan State. He is a sophomore, so perhaps it is simply a case of him having two more shots at carrying Ohio State to a National Championship. Want to contain Sullinger? Simply watch the game film from both meetings against Michigan State. His high against the Spartans was 14 points. While the sports betting sites like Ohio State, there is simply too much talent in the East Region to compete against.
Florida State slaughtered North Carolina in their first meeting back in January. Then, they went on to squeak past Duke 76-73 at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Would that normally be enough to make any Seminole fan happy? Sure it would, but they went on to the ACC tournament in Atlanta and beat both Duke and Carolina again in two close games. FSU was not on anyone’s radar when they met Carolina back in January, so you could attribute some of that win to simply bad expectations. During the ACC tournament, Carolina was without John Henson, who is crucial to Williams’ defensive scheme, so maybe Henson would have made the difference for a Carolina win. However, the fact remains that the Seminoles owned both Carolina and Duke the entire season, and that is a huge propellant into the big dance. I like Florida State to cruise fairly easily to the Regional Semis, and then play a close game against Ohio State.
As for Syracuse, they will have to play against an upstart Vanderbilt team that is playing their best ball right now. Jenkins and Taylor are both very credible threats from beyond the arc, both of whom are shooting well over 40% from downtown. In my opinion, the senior Jeffrey Taylor is the better pure shooter of the two, averaging close to 50% in field goals. However, that is a lot to defend against, and look for them to cruise against Harvard and Wisconsin, who simply does not play that well against ranked teams. I like Vanderbilt to come on top there and cruise to the regional semis against Syracuse.
Syracuse’s “Achilles Heel” is rebounding. They rank 125th in the nation in rebounding and they will come up against a Vanderbilt team that is not too far off that mark coming in at 182nd, nationally. Whoever establishes that big inside presence early in that game will come out on top. Vanderbilt will spread out Syracuse’s defense, with their credible threats from 3 point land. For a team that does not rebound well, that should leave Vanderbilt with plenty of room to start pulling down offensive boards. Lance Goulbourne is leading the team in rebounding at 6.9 rebounds per game. However, he has a very lackluster assist to turnover ratio, and unless something changes, I would not expect him to be a huge factor in the game. He is only 6’8”, 225 pounds and that obviously will not cover the job. The point is, for Vanderbilt to pull off the upset against Syracuse, they will have to have someone step up big time and really start grabbing some boards, and I do not expect it to happen. Take Syracuse in this game, but no further.
Wrapping it up with Florida State
Florida State is a much more formidable foe against Syracuse. The Seminoles are averaging a much more respectable 36.9 rebounds per game, good enough for 52nd overall, nationally. However, I do not think that is the game changer in this one. Look for Michael Snaer to make a difference in this match up. Snaer is leading the Seminoles in points per game, and is a threat from 3 point land as well. However, those are simply numbers. This kid is a player, and he plays with a lot of heart. He is clearly the glue of the team, and look for him to be the difference maker in this match up against Syracuse.