East

March 14, 2011

Get to know No. 1: With a cast of veterans and a stellar freshman, Ohio State (32-2) didn't crumble under heavy expectations. Center Jared Sullinger's wide body (right) and smooth passing ability makes him a nightmare for opponents. Ohio State is far more balanced this season than last season's Sweet 16 team. Four players average double digits. Jon Diebler is a lights-out outside threat (49.7 3-point percentage), and Aaron Craft has proved to be a solid point guard with defensive skills.

Cinderella: Georgia. All the critics bemoaning the Bulldogs' bid should fuel the team. Georgia has three victories against top-50 RPI teams, which is one more than North Carolina can claim.

Best first-round matchup: No. 8 George Mason vs. No. 9 Villanova. The deep and experienced, tempo-controlled Patriots won 16 straight before losing to VCU in the Colonial tournament. Slumping Villanova has lost five straight.

The buzz: How will North Carolina respond to losing by 18 points to Duke in the ACC title game? The No. 2 Tar Heels are good at proving critics wrong. They may go as far as freshman guard Harrison Barnes takes them. … Coach Buzz Williams is 3-for-3 in NCAA tournament trips since taking over for Tom Crean at 11th-seeded Marquette. … No. 13 Princeton is looking for its first tournament win since 1998.

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