The Duke Blue Devils earned the overall No. 1 seed. They finished third in the ACC regular season. However, the return of Zion Williamson helped lead the Blue Devils to the ACC Tournament title. As a result, they claimed the automatic bid to the 2019 NCAA Tournament.
Automatic Qualifiers: (7 Teams) The East region has a pair of First Four games. The winner between No. 16 North Carolina Central Eagles (18-15) and No. 16 North Dakota State Bison (18-15) will face off. The winner gets the prize of playing the Blue Devils in the first round. They represent the MEAC and Summit League respectively.
No. 2 Michigan State Spartans (27-6) Big Ten- The Spartans beat up on the Michigan Wolverines for the third time this season to capture the Big Ten crown. Now, the Spartans are looking forward to a long run in the 2019 NCAA Tournament. They could have been a 1-seed. Instead, they are headed for an Elite 8 matchup against the No. 1 seed Blue Devils.
No. 12 Liberty Flames (28-6) A-Sun- When you’re looking for an upset, a team like Liberty is the first that comes to mind. They play great defense and run well groomed half court offense. The Flames will space opponents out on the perimeter and try to shoot the lights out from 3-point range. They also have a better record than their first-round opponent. That’s a major ingredient for a round of 64 upset.
No. 13 Saint Louis Billikens (22-12) Atlantic 10- The only way the Saint Louis Billikens were going to make the NCAA Tournament was by winning the Atlantic 10. Well, with a little help from some friends, they had an easier path to March Madness. However, the Billikens still needed an errant 3-pointer at the buzzer to secure their spot.
No. 14 Yale Bulldogs (22-7) Ivy League- The Yale Bulldogs just dominated a second half without the help of their best player. Miye Oni got his fourth foul just to show people how deep the Bulldogs are. They can pass, shoot and attack the rim with ease.
No. 15 Bradley Braves (20-14) MVC- No, the Bradley Braves weren’t supposed to earn the NCAA Tournament bid this year. Yet, they were the last team standing. The last team from this conference to earn a bid made the Final Four.
Double Digit Losers: (8 Teams) When it’s all said and done, seven teams from the East region will have at least 10 losses when the round of 64 tips off. In fact, a 13-loss team is guaranteed to make it to the round of 32. We are not going out on a limb. The No. 7 seed Louisville Cardinals and No. 10 seed Minnesota Gophers each have 13 losses.
Conferences Represented: 11
ACC (3 Teams): Duke, Virginia Tech, Louisville
Big Ten (3 Teams): Michigan State, Maryland, Minnesota
A-10 (2 Teams): VCU, Saint Louis
SEC (2 Teams): LSU, Mississippi State
AAC (2 Teams): UCF, Temple
MEAC (1 Team): North Carolina Central
Summit (1 Team): North Dakota State
MVC (1 Team): Bradley
OVC (1 Team): Belmont
A-Sun (1 Team): Liberty
Ivy (1 Team): Yale
5 Stars To Watch
- Zion Williamson- Duke: So, Williamson returned to the court with a flash of greatness. It’s safe to say the Blue Devils have no chance of losing in the round of 64. He enters the NCAA Tournament with 22.1 points and 8.9 rebounds per game. Williamson also produces 2.1 assists, 2.2 steals and 1.8 blocks per game. He is shooting 69 percent from the field this season. Yet, none of this tells the full story of Zion. He should be fully dominant in limited action in the first round.
- Bruno Fernando- Maryland: The Maryland big man is producing 13.7 points and 10.4 rebounds per game in his sophomore season. Fernando is capable of going for a 20-20 game if the conditions present itself. He may have to produce a 25 point 15 rebound game to advance in the round of 64. Fernando certainly can’t have another 3 point scoring game like he did in the loss to the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
- Dylan Windler- Belmont: The Bruins snuck into the NCAA Tournament with an at-large bid. They are led by explosive small forward Dylan Windler. He is averaging 21.4 points and 10.7 rebounds per game for the Bruins. Windler also produces 2.6 assists per game. He can do it all for the Bruins. However, his game is special when the 3-point shot is falling. Windler shoots 43 percent from beyond the arc. Since they are playing in the First Four, Windler has an opportunity to score the most total points in the first weekend. More importantly, that means the Bruins will have survived and advanced.
- Cassius Winston- Michigan State: Winston may be the most prolific guard in the country. He led the Spartans to a sweep the Big Ten regular season and tournament titles. He leads the Spartans with 18.9 points and 7.6 assists per game.
- Shizz Alston Jr.- Temple: The senior guard is not shy about putting up shots. Alston is 1 of 2 players on the Owls that attempt 15 shots per game. He is scoring 19.7 points per game, while shooting 35 percent from 3-point range. Alston also takes more than eight 3-pointers per game. Therefore, he may get really hot in the First Four against Belmont.
Junior Miye Oni is a legitimate NBA prospect for the Yale Bulldogs. Oni is scoring 17.6 points per game. He is grabbing 6.3 rebounds per game. He also leads the team with 3.5 assists per game. The Bulldogs have a deep team of veterans playing at a high level. Oni is the type of player that can help lead the Bulldogs to the Sweet 16 from their 14 seed position. Keep in mind, the Bulldogs play the LSU Tigers in the first segment of games on Thursday.
The top half of the East Region bracket plays their first-round matchups on Friday. The bottom half of the bracket is tipping off on Thursday afternoon. Will the NCAA Tournament get the early upsets? If so, the East region is a prime candidate to produce chaos.
East Region Bracket
Duke (29-5) vs.
NC Central (18-15) or North Dakota State (18-15)
VCU (25-7) vs.
Miss State (23-10) vs.
Virginia Tech (24-8) vs.
Saint Louis (22-12)
Maryland (22-10) vs.
Belmont (26-5) or Temple (23-9)
LSU (26-6) vs.
7 Louisville (20-13) vs.
10 Minnesota (21-13)
Michigan State (27-6) vs.