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NCAA tournament update: East region

This week, The Chronicle will look at the opening weekend in each of the four regions of the NCAA tournament in advance of the Sweet Sixteen. Today, we continue with the East region.

Sweet 16 teams:

No. 1 Indiana vs. No. 4 Syracuse; No. 2 Miami vs. No. 3 Marquette

How those teams advanced:

Indiana—The Hoosiers breezed by No. 16 seed James Madison in the second round on the strength of five players scoring in double-figures. The Round of 32 matchup against No. 9 seed Temple was a different story. The Owls and guard Khalif Wyatt took a lead into the locker room at halftime and led for most of the game, but Indiana was able to rally late to secure a spot in the Sweet 16. With just 15 seconds left on the clock and the Hoosiers leading by one, Victor Oladipo answered the call, knocking down a 3-pointer to virtually ice the game.

Syracuse—The Orange didn't just beat No. 13 seed Montana in the Round of 64, they dismantled them. Syracuse won by 47 and held the Grizzlies to a meager 20.4 percent from the field. Predictably, things got more difficult for Jim Boeheim and his team in the next round. The Orange underwent a field goal drought of longer than 12 minutes, but still defeated No. 12 seed California 66-60. C.J. Fair led the way for Syracuse with 18 points, while Golden Bear star Allen Crabbe managed just eight points.

Miami—The Hurricanes cruised by No. 15 seed Pacific in the second round on the back of Durand Scott's 21 points. Against No. 7 seed Illinois things got more interesting. With the game going down to the wire, Miami got clutch free throws from Shane Larkin and Rion Brown to put the game to bed. Brown eclipsed the 20 point mark for the third time this season with his 21 against the Fighting Illini. The Hurricanes were able to fend off Illinois because of their strong defense against the 3-pointer. They held Brandon Paul and D.J. Richardson to a combined 3-for-19 from beyond the arc.

Marquette—The Golden Eagles barely squeaked by in both the Round of 64 and Round of 32 after trailing at halftime in both contests. Against Davidson, Marquette trailed by nine with just over five minutes of action remaining. With seven seconds to play and a one-point lead, Wildcat forward De'Mon Brooks committed his third turnover of the game, setting up Vander Blue for his game-winning layup. Against No. 6 seed Butler, Marquette needed more Blue to reach the Sweet 16. After trailing by eight at the midway point, Blue drilled a 3-poitner to tie the game with 1:29 remaining, giving him 29 points on the day. Five Golden Eagle free throws later, Marquette walked off the court with a 74-72 victory.

Biggest disappointment:

The top four seeds all advanced to the Sweet 16, so no team disappointed the way Georgetown did in the South region. Instead, the biggest disappointment is that the public was robbed of a Cinderella from this region. No. 6 seed Butler, No. 7 seed Illinois, No. 9 seed Temple and No. 12 seed California were all one or two bad bounces away from upsetting a higher seed. None of the four teams remaining have looked dominant this Tournament season. Public intrigue would have been much higher had one of the underdogs lived to dance another day.

Region MVP to date:

Vander Blue was the best player in the region opening weekend. Oladipo, Larkin, Cody Zeller, and Michael Carter-Williams are all bigger names, but none of them have been as good as Blue has been. For the Tournament, Blue is averaging 22.5 points per game on 50 percent shooting from beyond the arc. Defensively Blue has been a problem for opponents as well, collecting 2.5 steals per contest. The 6-foot-4 guard isn't a plus rebounder or passer, but if he continues to score at the clip he's currently producing at, he will remain one of the most exciting players to watch these next two weeks.

Previous regions updated: South


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