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March Madness breakdown: East Region

Best guard/playmaker: Maurice Aker, Marquette

Little 5-8 Acker shoots 48 percent from three-point range and can penetrate to the basket when has to or dish to F Lazar Hayward. His quickness on defense results in steals.

Best big man: DeMarcus Cousins, Kentucky

The freshman has been dominant while averaging 15.5 points and 10.2 rebounds. He's an NBA lottery pick right now.

Best go-to guy: John Wall, Kentucky

Without a doubt, freshman Wall (16.9 points, 4.2 rebounds, 6.3 assists) can win games by himself on offense or by creating turnovers. The most electrifying player in the tournament.

Best player no one ever heard of: Darington Hobson, New Mexico

Hobson, a guard, doesn't get much notice outside the Mountain Time Zone, but he averages 16.2 points, 9.2 rebounds and 4.6 assists and led New Mexico to a 29-win season and the Mountain West regular-season title.

Best first-round matchup: No. 5 Temple vs. No. 12 Cornell

The Owls won the Atlantic 10 regular-season and tourney title, but this is a team that lost to St. John's and plays in an overrated league. Ivy champion Cornell not only beat St. John's at the Garden but played a tight game against No. 1 Kansas in Lawrence. Jeff Foote is a 7-foot center with NBA potential, and Ryan Wittman can hit from outside.

Best coaching matchup

Marquette's Buzz Williams has the Golden Eagles playing everybody tough, and New Mexico's Steve Alford has lifted the Lobos to new heights. They should meet in the second round in what could be a classic game, although the Lobos have struggled lately and might not be accustomed to the attention they received after climbing to No. 8 in the polls.

Best team: Kentucky

Kentucky has it all, including a dash of experience with junior forward Patrick Patterson. Besides Wall and Cousins, the Wildcats' third freshman starter, guard Eric Bledsoe, is a tough customer running the offense. We've seen coach John Calipari fall short before with great talent at Memphis, but he might have all he needs to get to the title this time.

Best bet to spring an upset: West Virginia

If any team in the East can derail Kentucky, it's West Virginia. The Big East tournament champions are an experienced group that know how to win and plays tough, and they have Da'Sean Butler, who has made seven game-winning shots this season.

Regional prediction

As well as the Mountaineers played in winning the conference tournament, Kentucky just has more raw talent than any team in the field. The Wildcats don't always play smart, but they don't always have to because they have Wall, who can make something out of nothing. They should reach Indianapolis.

Final Four prediction

Georgetown, Syracuse, Baylor, Kentucky.


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