March Madness East Region Breakdown

March Madness East Region Breakdown

 

#1 Villanova vs #16 Radford

#8 Virginia Tech vs #9 Alabama

#5 West Virginia vs #12 Murray State

#6 Florida vs #11 St Bonaventure

#3 Texas Tech vs #14 Stephen F. Austin

#7 Arkansas vs #10 Butler

#2 Purdue vs #15 Cal State Fullerton

 

#1 Villanova vs #16 Radford

    This is not the best matchup for Villanova. Radford defends well, holding opponents to 64.9 points per game, and plays with a very slow tempo, which should slow down Villanova’s number one ranked scoring offense of 87 points per game. The Wildcats are just too talented for Radford to keep up with. Led by National Player of the year candidate Jalen Brunson and his 19.4 points per game, Nova has 6 players who average at least 10 points per game, and shoot 39.8% from behind the arc. On the other side, Radford has two players who average more than 10 points, and shoot just 35% from behind the arc. Villanova takes this game, but by 20 or 40 is the real question. If Radford plays slow, Villanova won’t have the ball enough to push the lead out. But if Radford panics and starts throwing up shots to get themselves back into the game, this game could get ugly.

The Pick: Villanova

#8 Virginia Tech vs #9 Alabama

    This game is the biggest coin toss of this side of the bracket. Alabama’s freshman phenom Collin Sexton comes into this game scorching hot, putting up 58 points in Alabama’s two SEC tournament games. Outside of Sexton however, Alabama offers up little offensively. Donta Hall is the Tide’s number two guy with 10.9 points, but is the cog of the Bama defense with 2.1 blocks per game. Hall however, is a gametime decision with a concussion. With him, Bama could pull a fast one on Virginia Tech. Without him, Virginia Tech could run away with it. The Hokies bring 5 10+ point scorers into this game, and they are one of the better three point shooting teams, knocking them down at 38.5% a clip. Led by Justin Robinson, who puts up 13.9 points, 5.6 assists, 1.2 steals, and knocks down 40% of his threes, he could give Alabama nightmares with his playmaking ability. I want to pick Alabama, and I think Sexton will go off, but the Hokies are too balanced and can beat Alabama in a lot of ways.

The Pick: Virginia Tech

 

#5 West Virginia vs #12 Murray State

    Press Virginia is back in the dance after a strong late season push, where they won 5 of their final 6 and made a run to the Big 12 final. Led senior guard Jevon Carter, the Mountaineers force 16 turnovers per game, good for 10th nationally. The Mountaineers have four players averaging at least 10 points, but don’t shoot the three especially well at 35.3%. Big man Sagaba Konate is an elite rim protector, blocking 3.3 shots per game. Murray State is yet another #12 seed capable of pulling off a few upsets. Led by the OVC player of the year Jonathan Stark with 21.8 points per game, Murray State puts up 78.9 points per game. Terrell Miller (14.7 points per game) and freshman guard Ja Morant (12.7 points per game, 6.4 assists), form a potent big three for Murray State. They do turn the ball over, averaging 12 turnovers per game, but West Virginia should be able to take care of business. Look for this game to be close.

The Pick: West Virginia

 

#4 Wichita State vs #13 Marshall

The Shockers boast the nations 18th ranked offense, and are led by guard Landry Shamet with 15 points per game. Behind him, there are three other 10 point scorers, and as a team shoot 38.5% from deep. Wichita has been on the big stage before, and looks to make a deep tourney run. The boast on of the deepest teams in the country, and can beat you from all over the court. Marshall lives and dies by the 3. Heaving up 28 threes per game, and hits them at a 35% rate. They boast two 20 points scores in Jon Elmore and C.J. Burks, and a third in Ajdin Penava with 15.5 points per game. They do a lot of damage from behind the arc, and can catch fire at any time. I think Wichita hangs on though, as they are too deep for the Thundering Herd.

The Pick: Wichicta State

#6 Florida vs #11 St Bonaventure

    The Gators have four players who average at least 10 points per game, and shoot the three ball at 37.5%. If the Gators can start out hot, they can pour points on in a hurry. Led by Jalen Hudson and his 15.3 points per game, Florida averaged 76.1 points per game. The Gators limit turnovers and can shoot the three, which is a good combination for a deep run. The Bonnies come into this game winning 13 of their last 14, and are among the hottest team in the country. Led by the backcourt of Jaylen Adams and Matt Mobley, the pair accounts for almost 40 points a night, en route to 77.9 a night. They also shoot 39.3% on triples, and are a trendy upset pick. I want to pick them, but they have one of the weakest benches in the country, and I expect Florida to expose that.

The Pick: Florida

 

#3 Texas Tech vs #14 Stephen F. Austin

    Texas Tech stumbled through the gate at the end of the season, dropping 5 of its final 7 games. The Red Raiders sport an elite defense that holds its opponents to 64.7 points per game. Offensively Texas Tech struggles outside of guard Keenan Evans, who averages 17.5 points per game. Two other players score at least 10 points for Texas, and this team will go as far as their defense will take them. Talking about defense Stephen F. Austin may not be an elite scoring defense, but they are elite at forcing turnovers. Seven players average a steal for the Lumberjacks, as they forced nearly 20 turnovers per game. Offensively, SF Austin posts 81.1 points per game, and have 3 players averaging at least 13 points. I really want to pick the upset here, but I think Texas Tech squeaks by.

The Pick: Texas Tech

 

#7 Arkansas vs #10 Butler

    Arkansas hosts one of the better offenses in the country, averaging 81.1 points per game. Led by a three headed monster in Jaylen Barford, Daryl Macon, and future NBA Lottery Pick Daniel Gafford, the tandem accounts for 46 points a night. Gafford will be the X-factor for the Razorbacks, and could have a field day against a smaller Butler team. Arkansas also shoots the three very well, lighting it up for a 40.1% conversion rate from downtown. Butler is led by star forward Kelan Martin with 20.8 points per game, and when he’s on, Butler can beat anybody. With two other players averaging at least 10 points, Butler is going to be a tough out. This team is battle tested, and has their eyes set on another run.

The Pick: Butler

 

#2 Purdue vs #15 Cal State Fullerton

    Purdue is one of my favorite teams this tournament. The have size, shooting, and a balanced scoring attack that features four players between 12 and 18 points per game. This team shoots threes at a blistering 42%, and hold opponents to 65 points per game. Led by Carson Edwards with 18.9 points per game, Purdue posts 81.1, for a scoring margin or +16. 7’2” center Isaac Haas is also going to be a matchup problem for any team in the tournament. CS Fullerton has 3 players average at least 12 points, and are led by Kyle Allman with 19.4 points per game. The Titans convert 33.8% of their triples, and I don’t see this game being that close.

The Pick: Purdue

 

Players to Watch:

Jalen Brunson, Villanova

Mikal Bridges, Villanova

Collin Sexton, Alabama

Jevon Carter, West Virginia

Jonathan Stark, Murray State

Landry Shamet, Wichita State

Jon Elmore, Marshall

C.J. Burks, Marshall

Jaylon Hudson, Florida

Matt Mobley, St Bonaventure

Jaylen Adams, St Bonaventure

Keenan Evans, Texas Tech

Daniel Gafford, Arkansas

Kelan Martin, Butler

Carson Edwards, Purdue

Isaac Haas, Purdue

 

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