East Region Preview
The East Region showcases a display of tenacious defenses, high-powered offenses and the No. 3 team in the final AP Poll.
The Purdue Boilermakers are the powerhouse of the east region, checking in as the top seed. The Boilermakers’ strength is their ability to rebound and move the basketball. With one of the slowest-paced offenses in the country, they’re a difficult team to form a run against.
However, Purdue appeared vulnerable to end the regular season, losing four of their final eight games. The Boilermaker offense runs through Zach Edey, a seven-foot-four center and Big Ten player of the year. Their weakness lies in their depth, only having one other player average double-digit points, and a less-than-impressive bench unit. If teams can find a way to handle Edey, they could break down the Boilermakers.
This region features one of the most intriguing eight-nine matchups inthe tournament. The No. 8 Memphis Tigers take on the No. 9 Florida Atlantic Owls. These two programs have something in common: they both love to score the basketball. The Owls make their living off of three-pointers, shooting the 13th most in the nation.
For the Tigers, it’s quite the opposite. Memphis is perfectly comfortable with shooting only six three-pointers per game. Kendric Davis runs the Memphis offense, being one of the most prolific scorers in the NCAA. Davis averages 22 points per game and his scoring partner is Deandre Williams, who averages a notable 18 points to go along with eight rebounds. The Florida Atlantic Owls will have their work cut out for them in this gritty mid-major matchup.
Did I mention defense? The East’s No. 4 seed Tennessee Volunteers feature the third-highest-rated defense in the country. Although stumbling to end the season, the Volunteers play an extremely physical brand of basketball. With wins this season against No. 1 seed Kansas and No. 1 seed Alabama, Tennessee has proven they’re capable of beating anyone in this tournament.
The region’s No. 5 seed Duke Blue Devils are the hottest team in the country right now. Winners of nine in a row, Duke dominated the ACC tournament while beating Pittsburgh, Virginia and Miami on the way. The Blue Devils pose a threat to any team come tournament time, with freshman star Kyle Filipowski leading the team to the No. 12 spot in the final AP Poll rankings.
The East’s seven-ten matchup presents an intriguing clash between two well-balanced teams. The No. 7 seed Michigan State Spartans take on the USC Trojans as only two-point favorites.
The Spartans are among the best shooting teams in the country, ranking second in the nation in three-point percentage. The teams are almost identical statistically, and both have an exceptionally diverse scoring distribution, with many capable options on offense. This could prove to be one of the most competitive games in the first round.
Six vs. 11 matchups are immensely common in the round of 64, and No. 11 Providence may put No. 6 Kentucky on upset alert. Kentucky surely doesn’t lack star power, senior center Oscar Tshiebwe averages 16 points with a remarkable 13 rebounds.
But Providence is a team that shouldn’t be overlooked. The Friars have been tested by elite competition all season and are one of the highest-scoring teams in the country. If Providence can get the best of Kentucky, it would be Kentucky’s second-straight year getting knocked out in the first round.
The No. 2 Seed and No. 3 Seed in the East are two compelling teams that could pose a threat to go deep in the bracket. No. 2 Marquette has an abundance of guard talent and one of the most efficient offenses in the country.
No. 3 Kansas State has the star power needed to make a run. Keyonte Johnson and Norman Powell are two profound scorers leading the K-State Wildcats to their first tournament appearance since 2019.
Sketch Morton is a third-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email Sam7539@psu.edu.
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