Why the name? This region has the smallest amount of Final Four contenders, as I only see Villanova or Duke advancing to Phoenix. The 3-5 seeds (Baylor, Florida, and Virginia) just aren’t playing well. The third best option may be the 6 seed, SMU. Don’t get cute with the East region, guys.
I’m going to approach this differently and give you my predictions for every game, including ATS for the 1st round.
Villanova (-26.5) 84 Mt. St. Mary’s 56
No 16 over 1 upset here. ‘Nova rolls.
Wisconsin (-5.5) 74 Virginia Tech 61
I love Buzz, but the Badgers are tournament tested. Hayes and Happ are going to be too much for the Hokies to handle.
Virginia (-7.5) 73 UNC Wilmington 58
Wilmington is the sexy pick here, but they haven’t come close to playing a defense like Virginia. Man Bun advances.
ETSU (+10.5) 84 Florida 81
Both these teams can score, but T.J. Cromer will be the best player on the floor. Give me the Buccaneers…outright.
SMU 79 USC 68
As I wrote this initially, Providence was up by 15 on USC. Hell of a comeback by the Trojans. It doesn’t matter who is up against SMU in this one though…the Mustangs advance behind Ojeleye (18.9 PPG).
Baylor (-12.5) 77 New Mexico St 54
Sure, Baylor is 5-6 in their last 11…but who is going to stop Johnathan Motley? Maybe Ojeleye in Round 2…
S. Carolina (-1) 72 Marquette 68
Marquette can really score it, and will almost certainly be the popular pick in this one. Remember, the Gamecocks get to play in their home state.
Duke 91 Troy (+20) 78
I think the Blue Devils struggle a bit in this one, but pull away in the final 10 minutes. Take the points.
Villanova 70 Wisconsin 66
The Badgers match up really well with ‘Nova. This one goes down to the last two minutes, and Villanova proves its championship mettle to advance to the Sweet 16. Bronson Koenig refuses to pass in the last minute and misses three shots.
Virginia 72 ETSU 60
The Cavalier defense is just too good for ETSU in this one. Virginia sets up a rematch against ‘Nova…and they should have won the first game.
Baylor 68 SMU 67
This is going to be one hell of a game if it materializes. SMU seems like the popular pick to reach the Sweet 16, but Baylor gets it done in a thriller.
Duke 84 S. Carolina 71
The Gamecocks can play defense, but they aren’t going to be able to stop Tatum and Kennard. Duke advances.
Villanova 73 Virginia 65
‘Nova takes the rematch in a game they don’t fall behind by double digits. These guys know how to win and are a serious threat to repeat.
Duke 75 Baylor 72
Baylor’s defense gives them a lead at half, but Duke makes their patented second half run to steal it in the last five minutes.
Villanova 83 Duke 81
Final Four level game. Madison Square Garden. Who doesn’t want to see this game? I’m taking Villanova because of Jalen Brunson. Yeah, Josh Hart and Kris Jenkins will get theirs, but Frank Jackson is going to have his hands full keeping Brunson from attacking the rim. ‘Nova goes to Phoenix with an excellent chance at cutting down the nets for a second straight season.