By Kyle Beery
The NCAA Tournament field has been announced and it’s time for bracket overload. You’ll spend the next three days reading up all you can to try and gain an edge in your bracket pool, and more than likely you’ll be regretting all that time wasted by Friday night.
But you’ll do it anyway because the greatest week of the year is upon us and that goes along with the territory. I’ll be breaking down each regional of the bracket, looking at the best teams, best matchups, potential upsets, and more.
Here’s the breakdown for the East Regional.
1. Villanova (31-3, 15-3 Big East)
- The Wildcats are the No. 1 overall seed after winning the Big East Tournament. Their only losses on the season came against Butler (twice) and Marquette, which are both tournament teams. Villanova has the second-best adjusted offensive efficiency (122.7 points per 100 possessions), according to kenpom.com.
- Duke is the second-best team in this quadrant of the bracket. It may not have looked that way just a couple of short weeks ago, but the Blue Devils are the hottest team in the nation, rattling off four straight solid wins in four days.
8. Wisconsin (25-9, 12-6 Big Ten)
- This is a team that finished in second place in the Big Ten regular season and had 13 wins against the RPI top 100, yet ended up as an 8-seed. While the Badgers looked shaky in the Big Ten championship game against Michigan, they are capable of competing with Villanova in the second round, thanks to veteran leadership in Bronson Koenig and Nigel Hayes.
6. SMU (30-4, 17-1 American Athletic)
- The Mustangs quietly won a gaudy 30 games this season, led by Semi Ojeleye (19.0 PPG, 6.7 RPG) and Shake Milton (13.2 PPG, 4.5 APG). The Mustangs haven’t lost since a two-point loss at Cincinnati in early January. They are capable of getting by Baylor, and even giving Duke a good fight.
Potential first-round upsets
- 12. UNC-Wilmington over 5. Virginia
- While the Cavaliers have the best defense in the country (87 points allowed per 100 possessions), UNC Wilmington ranks in the top 20 in AdjOE behind C.J. Bryce’s 17 points per game and 34 percent three-point shooting.
- 10. Marquette over 7. South Carolina
- Marquette leads the country in three-point shooting percentage (43.0) and has a great win under its belt — overall No. 1 seed Villanova. Granted, South Carolina has one of the best defenses in the country, but the Gamecocks lost five of their last seven games.
- 1. Villanova def. 12. UNC-Wilmington
- 2. Duke def. 6. SMU
- 1. Villanova over 2. Duke
Check out my breakdowns of the other regionals: WEST REGIONAL
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