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Breaking Down the NCAA East Region
The Number 1 seed: Villanova, You might have heard of these guys. They won the NCAA tournament last year on what is probably the single greatest shot in NCAA Tournament history. Kris Jenkins, who hit that memorable shot is still around. Villanova features a dynamic point guard in Jalen Brunson and National Player of the Year contender in Josh Hart. The Wildcats are vulnerable inside and they are not a deep team. Villanova still brings the toughness they showed a year ago, however.
The Sleeper: #8 seed Wisconsin. The Badgers have struggled but return just about everyone from last year's tournament team that reached the Sweet 16. Wisconsin is full of upper classman and they have the talent and experience to make it to Phoenix.
1st round Match-up I Can't Wait to See: #7 South Carolina. #10 Marquette. I know what you are thinking: Really? The 1st round match-up you can't wait to see is the #7 vs.#10?? Well, yes. I don't think either of these teams reach the Sweet 16 but the style of basketball that these 2 teams want to play couldn't be more different. South Carolina is one of the best defensive teams in the country and has trouble scoring. They want the game to be played in the 50s. Meanwhile, Steve Wojciechowski's Golden Eagles are what you call, uhm, indifferent on defense. Marquette would like the game to be played in the 80s or 90s. The pace of the game is what will decide who moves on to the 2nd round. Can South Carolina score enough? Can Marquette get stops when they need it? We will find out.
Player in the Region That You Must Watch: Duke's Jason Tatum. You need to see Tatum in college while you can because he will be one of the first 5 picks in the NBA Draft. The smooth freshman has played great down the stretch for the Blue Devils, averaging better than 20 point per game in the ACC tournament. He is a match-up nightmare with his 6'8 frame. He is able to shoot over smaller guards and is able to get to the rim off the dribble against bigger defenders. Tatum has not forced shots like he was doing earlier in the year and is letting the game come to him.
Best Potential match-up before the Elite 8: Villanova vs. Wisconsin in the 2nd round. This game would have a feel of the way basketball was before the days "one-and-done" era. Both teams possess experience, toughness, and they know how to play with one another on the court. Circle this one because this game is likely to happen.
Best "shocker" possibility: Let's go with #13 seed East Tennessee State going to the sweet 16 by beating both #4 Florida and Virginia. The Buccaneers won the SoCon tournament and score nearly 80 points per game. If ETSU gets hot offesnively, don't be surprised if they outshoot the defensive minded Gators and Virginia Cavaliers.
Who is going to come out of the region: Duke. The team with the most talent and is coached by the man who has the most wins in Division I basketball history. Sounds like an easy choice, right?. It seemed like an easy choice in the preseason, too, but it was far from easy for the Blue Devils. Have they put it all together in time to reach Phoenix? I am going with yes.