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March Madness 2011 Bracket: Power Ranking the Top 10 Players in the East Region

Peter HillCorrespondent IIMarch 14, 2011

March Madness 2011 Bracket: Power Ranking the Top 10 Players in the East Region

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    Now that the brackets are officially out, it's time to break them down. Region by region, countless quality players and teams will suit up this week.

    With The Ohio State Buckeyes taking the No. 1 overall seed in the East region, they will have plenty of teams gunning for them.

    North Carolina, Syracuse, Kentucky, West Virginia and Xavier are all looking to take the top team.

    Plenty of top talent will be represented in the East region, and countless scouts will be in the arenas to catch a glimpse.

    Whether you want to see game changers, great college players, future NBA studs or quality role players, the East region will showcase them all.

    So here we have it, here are your top 10 players in the East region.

10. Jimmy Butler, Marquette

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    Experience matters in The Big Dance and Butler has plenty of it. Playing over 30 minutes a game the last two years, Butler is having a good senior year for the Eagles.

    Butler currently averages 16 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game.

    In a conference log-jammed full of high quality guards, Butler can easily be overlooked.

    He combines with Darius Johnson-Odom in the backcourt, which makes both players even better. Being able to play alongside another good all-around guard makes these two tough to handle.

    Marquette is an 11 seed and faces off against the sixth-seed Xavier in the first round. Coincidentally, Xavier's top two scorers are also guards.

    This matchup will be won and lost around the perimeter, so expect Butler to step up given his height advantage.

    Both of Xavier's top guards are hovering around six feet, which means Butler will have to exploit the obvious height differential he could be given on key possessions.

9. William Buford, Ohio State

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    William Buford is the second-leading scorer on Ohio State behind stud freshman Jared Sullinger.

    However, Buford is counted on to do much more than score. He averages three assists and nearly four rebounds per game, meaning his versatility will have to come into play.

    Buford is now a junior, and has logged major minutes for the Buckeyes over the past few years. He has been a key member of other successful Buckeyes teams, and knows what it takes to win the big games.

    Buford, along with Diebler, both have to provide stability for the Buckeyes around the perimeter.

    At 6'5", Buford is the third-leading rebounder for Ohio State at 3.9 per game. Thad Matta and company will need Buford to hit the boards if they want to routinely steal extra possessions.

    If Ohio State wants to win this region, players like Buford will have to step up and help Sullinger carry the load.

8. John Henson, North Carolina

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    John Henson is very under-appreciated for North Carolina. Just a freshman, Henson is the third-leading scorer and the best rebounder for the young Tar Heels.

    Not only does Henson rebound at a high rate, the kid can block some shots. He currently averages 3.2 blocks per game.

    Few freshmen in the country can even claim half of the blocks per game that Henson does.

    Paired with Tyler Zeller down low, Henson doesn't always have all the attention on him.

    The one main fault on Henson's game so far is easily his free throw shooting. He averages an abysmal 46 percent from the line, and teams will key in on that during close games.

    If Henson can stay active down low, attack the glass, go for loose balls and score when needed, the Heels could be a serious contender beyond just the East region.

7. Trey Thompkins, Georgia

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    Scouts will definitely be coming out to see the big man from Georgia. At 6'10" and 250 pounds, NBA general managers drool over what this kid is capable of.

    Rumored to be leaving for the NCAA tournament last year, Thompkins came back to improve his draft stock. So far he has done a so-so job.

    An impressive tournament performance would guarantee him a boost in draft stock.

    Thompkins is a smooth post player, who can generally take care of everything down low.

    With super athlete Travis Leslie on the wing, the pair makes Georgia a team you cannot overlook.

    Watch out for Thompkins and Georgia, not only in the first round, but in a potential matchup with North Carolina come round two.

6. Isiah Thomas, Washington

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    Even though Isaiah Thomas plays in the under-watched Pac-10, he has made a name for himself this year. Yes, his name is much different than the other Isiah Thomas.

    He carried his Huskies past Derrick Williams and Arizona a few days ago in the Pac-10 final, and has ample amounts of clutch play ability.

    NBA scouts generally shy away from Thomas because of his size, but another dominating performance will surely change their minds.

    He is truly "a little guy with a huge heart," and will do whatever it takes to win.

    Thomas will most likely have the highest basketball IQ of anyone on the court at all times, which is beyond huge in the NCAA tourney.

    Don't be shocked if Isaiah and company pull off and upset or two, especially if Thomas carries the team on his back.

5. Tyler Zeller, North Carolina

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    Zeller gets more and more comfortable in the post every game, and it has shown of late.

    Developing his clutch shot ability of late won't hurt Zeller's case either. Tyler made the buzzer-beating layup against Miami and followed it up with a game-tying hook shot against Clemson the next day.

    Zeller is definitely a guy UNC can count on with his high basketball IQ. He often tries to back his man down, but is more than willing to kick the ball out if the shot isn't there.

    A huge attraction to Zeller's game is his free throw shooting. The junior from Indiana is shooting 75 percent from the line, a great number for a big man.

    Having a post presence like Zeller will be huge for UNC, especially since the seven-footer is very smooth in his motions.

    Pro scouts will also want to get a glimpse of the big man. Zeller possesses many great qualities that make him very attractive to all NBA teams.

4. Brandon Knight, Kentucky

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    Knight has been somewhat of a letdown this year and needs the NCAA tournament to boost his stock as much as possible.

    Brandon Knight is a elite athlete and can play point guard or shooting guard. However, teams looking to draft Knight will eventually want his athleticism to be used at point guard.

    Knight possesses the speed, agility, scoring ability and overall athleticism to make him one of the best athletes in the draft.

    Like the past Calipari-led point guards, Knight needs to explode right off the bat.

    One of the most overshadowed parts of Knight is his defense, and scouts will certainly take notice of it in the tournament.

    Kentucky will have to advance to at least the Elite Eight if Knight wants to see his stock move up.

3. Terrence Jones, Kentucky

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    Like his teammate Brandon Knight, Terrence Jones is an elite athlete on the court.

    Jones was somewhat of an afterthought in Kentucky's recruiting class, but he became "go-to" once the season started.

    Jones is extremely versatile and can defend almost any position. He can dribble the ball well, which will make him a target for NBA scouts.

    Terrence can score in several ways and has solid footwork when moving around in the paint. Jones is also an active rebounder, which is why he is so versatile.

    If all goes well, Jones could see a Tyrus Thomas-like boost in his draft stock, placing him in the top five slots.

    Jones might be the most talented player in this region, and will have a huge opportunity to prove it.

2. Harrison Barnes, North Carolina

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    Coming into the season as the No. 1 recruit, Harrison Barnes had a less-than-stellar first half to the season.

    However, he has flipped the switch and can carry UNC whenever he chooses. It seems like UNC goes as Harrison does.

    He is super quick with the ball and has a great shooting stroke that has come in clutch of late.

    Harrison also has big-play ability. He hit a clutch go-ahead three against Florida State and recently hit a big three to force overtime against Clemson.

    Barnes has already seen his stock rise the past few weeks and can continue to do so with a solid showing with good play in the East.

    Don't be surprised if Harrison takes over the tournament; this kid has elite talent.

1. Jared Sullinger, Ohio State

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    Sullinger is as dominant of a college player we have seen in years.

    The big-bodied freshman routinely bullies people around in the paint, snatching rebound after rebound.

    Sullinger is listed at over 280 pounds, making him nearly impossible to stop in the paint.

    The freshman also has a body that NBA scouts drool over, so plenty of general managers will be criticizing his every move.

    Jared has more than enough ability to take over the entire tournament, forget just one game.

    Sit back and enjoy this kid's last year in college, as he will surely be a top pick in next year's draft.

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