Indiana Basketball: East Region Teams Who'll Threaten Hoosiers' Title Hopes

Steven CookFeatured Columnist IVMarch 19, 2013

CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 16:  George Marshall #3 of the Wisconsin Badgers and Victor Oladipo #4 of the Indiana Hoosiers scramble for the ball as Remy Abell #23 of the Hoosiers watches from behind during a semifinal game of the Big Ten Basketball Tournament at the United Center on March 16, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

There's no doubt that the Indiana Hoosiers are one of the top teams in the country and a favorite to cut down the nets in Atlanta. But it won't be easy to emerge from a tough East region with many dangerous teams.

It's far from a cakewalk for the Hoosiers to punch their ticket to the Final Four, with a couple of elite teams in the East as well as some potential Cinderella teams who we've learned not to doubt.

Let's take a look at the teams in the East region most likely to end Indiana's run at the 2013 National Championship.


Miami Hurricanes

No secret here. 

The 'Canes had a serious case for a No. 1 seed, but were passed over by Kansas and Gonzaga. In fact, Miami is the first team to win the ACC regular season, as well as the conference tournament, and not secure a No. 1 seed.

With an emerging star in Shane Larkin, who lit it up in the ACC Tournament, and a solid supporting cast, the Hurricanes could stifle Indiana's multiple stars.

Forward Kenny Kadji has the size—6'11", 242 pounds—to cause struggles for Cody Zeller and shut down the Hoosiers defensively. 

But most importantly, the Hurricanes play team ball on both ends of the court and that's what will win tournament games. If we see Indiana-Miami in the Elite Eight, it should be one of the best games all tournament and one worthy of national championship status.


Butler Bulldogs

The world of college basketball would be foolish to write off Butler in the national title race by now. 

Two straight National Championship appearances is enough to cement the status of any team, much less a mid-major squad like the Bulldogs. 

Plus, let's not forget Butler toppled Indiana earlier this season in the most Butler way possible—with a walk-on player hitting a game-winner in overtime. They could very well channel their March Madness magic by doing the same in the round of 16. 

Brad Stevens and his team are at their best in March, as we all know. And the Hoosiers have been known to fall victim to tough, gritty teams who are playing with something to prove.

Chalk up Butler as the most obvious sleeper pick in the history of sports.


N.C. State Wolfpack

As an 11-seed last year, the Wolfpack made an improbable run to the Sweet 16 and despite an up-and-down season, they're capable of doing the same this season as a slightly nicer eight-seed. 

If they get past Temple in the second round, they'll face the Hoosiers with a place in the round of 16 on the line.

Perhaps N.C. State's best asset is its wide range of scorers. Each of its starting five averages at least 12 points per game. 

The Wolfpack also have a star who's proven his ability to take over a game against elite competition. C.J. Leslie is a 6'9", 200-pound wing-man who can attack the basket just as well as he can rebound. His second-best scoring total of the season came in a thrilling victory over then-No. 1 Duke, where he lit it up for 25 points. 

Don't sleep on the Wolfpack, who could end the Hoosiers' title run just after it begins. 


Check out our printable bracket and keep up-to-date on tournament action with our Live Bracket. Make your picks for the 2013 NCAA Tournament here with the Bracket Challenge Game