If you love NCAA Tournament storylines, then you’ll love the East region.
Rick Pitino back in March Madness? Check. Returns to the Big Dance for storied programs (Georgetown and UConn)? You bet. Multiple teams capable of emerging as national champions? Absolutely.
All eyes will be on top-seeded Michigan and second-seeded Alabama, but there is much more that makes the East bracket so intriguing.
There’s a lot to go over, so let’s get into it.
Here’s a preview of the East region.
East region field:
4. Florida State
9. St. Bonaventure
11. Michigan State/UCLA
13. UNC Greensboro
14. Abilene Christian
16. Mount St. Mary?s/Texas Southern
East region favorites:
Florida State (+500)
East region schedule:
First round: Saturday, March 20
Second round: Monday, March 22
Sweet 16: Saturday, March 27 and Saturday, March 28
Elite Eight: Monday, March 29 and Tuesday, March 30
Storyline to watch: The return of Georgetown
What a run the Hoyas made in the Big East Tournament.
Patrick Ewing’s team ran the table, eventually overwhelming Creighton in the title game. Once 9-12 in the regular season, Georgetown now is the No. 12 seed in its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2015. Fans and media will continue to doubt the Hoyas as they did for much of the season. But don’t be surprised if Georgetown becomes this year’s Cinderella.
Player to watch: Franz Wagner, F, Michigan
With forward Isaiah Livers out with an injury, the top-seeded Wolverines will lean heavily on Wagner throughout their tournament run.
Michigan at points this season looked like the top team in the country, but it faltered down the stretch and now carries legitimate question marks. Wagner is one of the more talented players in the nation, and his potential ascension could help the Wolverines overcome the loss of Livers and emerge from the East region.
If Wagner doesn’t perform up to his potential, we’d have a hard time picking Michigan over Alabama, and could be talked into rolling with Texas should the two teams meet.
East region sleeper: Colorado
The Buffaloes could be one of this year’s bracket busters.
Colorado doesn’t get much publicity, but it nevertheless is capable of beating any team on any night. Tad Boyle’s group only lost the Pac 12 Championship Game by two points, though their loss to an inferior Oregon State team was disappointing.
McKinley Wright is one of the tournament’s more entertaining players and is someone who could lead the Buffaloes to the Sweet 16, if not farther.
Sam Panayotovich’s betting pick: Alabama
This region is a crapshoot. Michigan has lost three of its last five games and is literally limping into the tournament with an injury to second-leading scorer Isaiah Livers. The Wolverines are still loaded with talent, but it?s clearly an issue if they are not at full strength.
The bottom of this bracket is very dangerous with two conference tournament champions in Alabama and Texas. I?m a big fan of Nate Oats and Shaka Smart but would have to give a slight edge to the Crimson Tide because their defense is clearly better. Even if Livers returns, Alabama is a tough matchup.