CDA News’ look at the NCAA tournament continues with a full breakdown of the rest of the East Region. After going through the first seven seeds, this will be a look at the regional as a whole from top seed Villanova to No. 16 Mount St. Mary’s. Here’s what to expect when the games tip off on Thursday and Friday, with the 16 teams working toward advancing to New York.
Most Intriguing Game: Virginia vs. North Carolina-Wilmington. If you like contrasting styles, this is the matchup for you. Virginia is patient and focused on defense, UNCW will score and sprint. The Seahawks are the rare mid-major who can run and does it effectively, and they have a good matchup against a team that doesn’t like to push it. The winner of this 5-12 matchup will be the team that can force the game to be played at its pace. If the Cavaliers can bring it to a crawl, they’re in good shape. If the Seahawks get off to the races, Virginia likely won’t be able to keep up.
Most Likely Upset: Can a 10 over a 7 even be called an upset? If so, Marquette’s the most likely upset in the East Region. The Golden Eagles finished strong while South Carolina did not. Even playing in nearby Greenville won’t be enough to save the Gamecocks; they’re still a year away. If a 10 doesn’t count, then UNC-Wilmington is the pick. In reality, every lower seed from No. 9 Virginia Tech to No. 13 East Tennessee State has a reasonable chance to win. The East Region is very balanced.
Lowest Seed In the Sweet 16: Either No. 6 SMU or No. 12 UNC-Wilmington. With Florida fading and East Tennessee State representing a tough matchup for the Gators, the bracket sets up very well for the Seahawks to bump off two powers and make a run. If they can’t do it, look for the Mustangs to succeed. They’re better than their seed suggests and Baylor is a very beatable second-round game. They should get to New York and could put a scare into Duke.
Highest Seed to Fall Early: Baylor. It won’t really be a big upset if Baylor doesn’t get by SMU. The Bears have been a strong team all year, but they’ve been one-and-done two years in a row in the NCAAs, and though they probably won’t make it three straight, they have a terrible matchup in the second round against a talented and motivated fellow Texas school.
The Region Champion Will Be: Duke. The Blue Devils are streaking as of late and they seldom lose when they’re in the East Region. Granted, the last time they were in the East, they got thumped by Villanova in the Sweet 16, but this Duke team is much more complete than the 2009 version. If Villanova and Duke make it to the regional final, both teams will have their fans packing the Garden, and the atmosphere could create the best game of the tournament.
Readers, do you believe in the Blue Devils, or do you think someone else comes out of the East? Who is your sleeper from this regional? What’s your biggest seed to fall early? Sound off in the comments!
Commentary by Dan Angell