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Bracket Analysis: East Region

After a fantastic year that included an ACC regular season title and a conference championship, the
Akil Mitchell
Virginia Cavaliers received a No.1 seed in the East. The Cavs are going to be an extremely tough out for anybody because they play hard, they can defend, they rebound very well and they don't rely on one particular star to get the job done for them. If one player was your top priority it would probably be senior sharpshooter Joe Harris who averages 11.7 points per game and shoots 40% from downtown. Along with sophomore guard Malcolm Brogdon (12.6 points, 5.6 rebounds per game) and senior Akil Mitchell, Virginia has the talent to do something in the tournament, although they get a tough game early against Michigan State in the Sweet 16, assuming they get there.

Matchups between 5 and 12 seeds are extremely common and this region may have the most likely as Cincinnati hopes to avoid an upset to the Ivy League champs, the Harvard Crimson. Sophomore point guard Siyani Chambers is one of the most exciting players in the nation, the way he runs the offense. He isn't that dangerous of a shooter but he gets to the rim and his vision helps make the offense extremely effective. Senior forward Kyle Casey is a load to handle in the paint and Harvard possesses a dangerous scorer in junior wing Wesley Saunders, who puts up 14 points per game. According to ESPN Stats and Info, the Crimson have a 41 percent shot at taking down the Bearcats, something they could definitely do, especially if they contain senior Sean Kilpatrick.

Although Villanova went 28-4 this year, 16-2 inside the Big East and beat Kansas and Iowa along the way, many have them ditching out early. The Wildcats might have only lost two games inside the Big East all year, but they were both blowout losses to Creighton, in which the 'Nova defense looked terrible. Villanova has relied heavily on senior James Bell and junior Darrun Hilliard, their best three-point shooter, but their offense can look pretty pedestrian at times. Milwaukee should be a win but a meeting with the winner of St.Joe's and old Big East rival UConn could give the 'Cats an awfully early challenge. Plus, they're undersized inside and not as deep as some of the other elite teams in the nation which should cost them when the get deeper in the tournament.

Overlooking George Wasington would not be wise. Whenever their name is put out there is usually a "who?" involved but the Colonials have had a great year in the Atlantic 10 and will be playing in their first tournament since 2007 when they lost as an 11 seed to Vanderbilt. The Colonials have two great fifth-year transfers in Maurice Creek, a dangerous shooter from Indiana, and swingman Isaiah Armwood, who is from Villanova. Creek, who averages 14.3 points per game can hurt teams from deep and has the size to attack the rim and finish through contact. Sophomore guard Kethan Savage isn't a shooter but he is deceptively quick and can also get to the basket. George Washington has beat Creighton, Maryland and Georgia this year and although Memphis is a tough draw in their first game, the Colonials could surprise some people.

It finally appears like Michigan State is finally completely healthy and that has led many to pick them as the favorite in the field. Seniors Adreian Payne and Keith Appling are ready to lead the Spartans after was has been a rollercoaster of a year. Michigan State's victories over Wisconsin and Michigan were very impressive and they have court-stretchers to beat teams. They will need Payne to play to his potential in the paint and Gary Harris to prove who lethal of a scorer that he can be. They will get Delaware, the CAA winner, in the second round before a meeting with the winner of Harvard or Cincy. The East is a favorable region for the Spartans, who are always threats in March because their Big Ten schedule helps prepare them for the tourney. If they continue to stay healthy, they can easily come out of the East and beat Florida in the Final Four.

Picking the East
Second Round
1 Virginia over
16 Coastal Carolina

9 George Washington over
8 Memphis

12 Harvard over
5 Cincinnati

4 Michigan State over
13 Delaware

6 UNC over
11 Providence

3 Iowa State over
14 North Carolina Central

7 UConn over
10 St. Joe's

2 Villanova over
15 UW-Milwaukee

Third Round
1 Virginia over
9 George Washington

4 Michigan State over
12 Harvard

3 Iowa State over

2 Villanova over
7 UConn

Sweet 16
4 Michigan State over
1 Virginia

3 Iowa State over
2 Villanova

4 Michigan State over 3 Iowa State

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