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2016 NCAA Tournament: East region is stacked with blue bloods and quality point guards

Let's run down Indiana's region, which could be the toughest one in the field of 68.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

In case you missed it, here's Indiana's side of the bracket, the East region, which will have its regional finals in Philadelphia at the Wells Fargo Center (get your "could these teams beat the Sixers" jokes ready!)

Team Rundown

1. North Carolina

Rundown: I saw the Heels play at the Yum Center on Feb. 1 (before Louisville's president cowardly self-imposed a postseason ban on the Cardinals), and I was underwhelmed with UNC's performance in their loss to Louisville. That being said, the Heels are not going to be an easy out for any team. Like any good Roy Williams team, they play at a fast pace, score a lot of points, and play a physically demanding game. They're led by Marcus Paige in the backcourt and Brice Johnson in the frontcourt. The team's one real deficiency is shooting the 3, which could hurt they face a team that's able to keep pace with them.

Oh yeah, Remember Theo Pinson? He's a sophomore for the Heels now.

2. Xavier

Rundown: Chris Mack's squad went 14-4 in a tough Big East this year and didn't lose a single nonconference game either. IU fans may be familiar with two players on the Musketeers - sophomore Trevion Bluiett was Yogi Ferrell's teammate at Park Tudor, and of course Remy Abell was on the Hoosiers for two seasons before transferring. Like UNC, they also play at a breakneck tempo.

3. West Virginia

Rundown: I've been saying for weeks that the Mountaineers could be a scary matchup for a turnover-prone IU squad. Bob Huggins has completely reinvented this team in the past couple seasons, bringing what he calls "Press Virginia" - a full-court press defense that thrives on steals and fast breaks - to Morgantown. I love watching this team play - they are relentless and can put up points - but I do think they're very matchup-dependent. If an opponent can successfully break the press and slow the game down (like what UVA did to them earlier in the season), then they're in trouble.

4. Kentucky

Rundown: Ohhhh buddy. You didn't think you'd have to deal with Big Blue Nation, did you? Well the selection committee had other plans for you! The Wildcats aren't as dominant as the 38-1 team was during the regular season last year, but they still have Tyler Ulis, who's turned into one of the best point guards in the country during his sophomore year. Jamal Murray is a freshman shooting guard who has shades of fellow Canadian Andrew Wiggins in his game, and if he gets hot from three then teams will have to watch out. Freshman big man Skal Labissiere has definitely been more of a "project" player, but if he can show flashes of his potential, the Wildcats may be tough to bring down.

5. Indiana

Rundown: I think you know the deal with the Hoosiers by now, as this is an IU blog. But in case you've missed it, the Hoosiers won an outright B1G title, are led by senior Yogi Ferrell, and overcame a tough start to the season to get to where they are today. In addition to Ferrell, Thomas Bryant could get a national stage to show off his moves under the glass, while Troy Williams and OG Anunoby could show off their athleticism. A potential round 2 matchup against UK looms.

6. Notre Dame

Rundown: Hoosier fans surely remember the comeback victory over Notre Dame at the Crossroads Classic. Notre Dame has a similar profile to Indiana last year - a top-10 offense with a defense rated 172nd on KenPom. As he did against Duke in the ACC Tourney, senior Zach Auguste has the potential to take over a game.

7. Wisconsin

Rundown: Greg Gard did an excellent job turning the Badgers into a tournament this season after a slow start. The Badgers have extensive tourney experience after last season, and if they get past Pitt they won't be an easy out for Xavier.

8. USC

Rundown: Andy Enfield, architect of the Dunk City Florida Gulf Coast team, is back in the tourney after he took over the Trojans three years ago. He's got USC playing a similarly entertaining style as FGCU did, but the Trojans come limping into the tourney, having lost 7 of their past 10 games.

9. Providence

Rundown: The East region has a ton of great point guards, and along with Ferrell and Ulis, Kris Dunn is one of the best in the country at the position. the Friars also have an impressive big man in Ben Bentil, who scored 38 against Butler in the Big East Tournament. Ed Cooley has done a nice job of revitalizing a moribund Providence program, but he still doesn't have a tourney win.

10. Pittsburgh

Rundown: The Panthers finished 9-9 in the ACC, and have wins over Duke and Notre Dame to their credit, and it will be the last hurrah for senior James Robinson - yet another great point guard in the region. If Pitt gets by both Wisconsin and Xavier, they might be looking at a Sweet 16 matchup with longtime rival WVU.

11. Michigan

Rundown: Could Kam Chatman's game-winning three against the Hoosiers on Friday catapulted them into the field? Michigan's had an up-and-down season, but their fans will have an easy drive to the play-in game. The Wolverines have a lot of shooters and a veteran tourney coach in John Beilein, and a potential first-round matchup with Notre Dame could bring back memories of the now-defunct football rivalry.

11. Tulsa

Rundown: Because Louisville and SMU are banned from the tourney, Frank Haith - who has left two basketball programs in shambles yet evades the punishment of the NCAA - gets an invite. The Golden Hurricane got crushed by a really bad Memphis team a couple days ago. They don't deserve to be here, Frank Haith is a terrible coach, and I hope Michigan runs them out of the gym in Dayton.

12. Chattanooga

Rundown: Matt McCall's squad won the Southern conference outright and were tournament champions. For more on the Mocs, here's our game preview.

13. Stony Brook

Rundown: America East outright champs and tourney champs. First ever tourney bid. They're led by Jameel Warney, who had 43 points in the conference title game against Vermont yesterday.

14. Stephen F. Austin

Rundown: Southland Confernece outright champs and tourney champs. A win by Steve Austin could be a "Stone Cold Stunner" over WVU, but Brad Underwood's squad has beaten a press-heavy team before in the tourney in VCU a couple years ago. They're a top-40 team on KenPom; however, their best win comes against the 155th-ranked Texas A&M Corpus Christi.

15. Weber State

Rundown: Big Sky tourney champ. Pronounced WEE-ber, not WEB-ber.


Rundown: Florida Gulf Coast is back for the first time since their Cinderella run three years ago. The team isn't quite as good this season but if they do beat FDU and somehow knock off UNC then they could match up with former coach Andy Enfield in round 2.

16. Fairleigh Dickinson

Rundown: Northeast Conference tourney champ. Lost to Rutger.

Region Summary

Favorites: UNC, Xavier

Sleepers: Wisconsin, Providence

The Pick: IU-UK winner