NCAA Basketball Tournament: East Region

Villanova: the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde of college basketball and our number one seed in the East Region. They have the talent to repeat their 2016 National Championship and, yet, that miracle run is sandwiched in between two opening weekend early exits in 2015 and 2017.  In fact, in the last ten seasons, Villanova has only gotten past opening weekend twice. That's shocking when you consider that they've been a number one and two seed nearly every year of the past decade, except 2012. Which team will show up for head coach Jay Wright this season? That is the question that must be answered when predicting this division.

When you look down this bracket, don't be shocked if the Wildcats are gone by Monday morning. This may just be the region of death. Purdue should easily dispatch with Cal State in their first game, but it's nothing but trap games from that point onwards. When you look down, any true college basketball fan knows that Texas Tech, Wichita State, West Virginia, even Florida all have a decent chance at the Final Four. The pressure undoubtedly will remain on Villanova to make a deep run this year. AP had them ranked number one in the entire nation for eight weeks and arguably their two best players Jalen Brunson and Mikal Bridges will depart for the NBA next year. It's now or never.

The Boilermakers are the most difficult team to predict. They won 19 consecutive games and seemed poised to smash through the Big Ten and then promptly lost three straight. They better stay focused though as their second round matchup will likely see them face off against those Bulldogs from Butler, who upset Villanova and nearly took down Purdue were it not for a first half collapse. Their offence is scary and could cause issues if they get hot.

The under-the-radar team that could make some noise has to be West Virginia. The Mountaineers are an odd team who had a terrific run around New Year's but have gone 9-9 in the run up to the tournament. West Virginia's run to the Final Four will be extremely difficult as there's really not an easy matchup after their first game. What I love about this team is their hard-nosed, turnover-causing defence that will give trouble to whoever they play. Going deeper into this bracket and you start to realize that we're going to have some epic early match-ups. The experts really aren't giving Texas Tech much of chance given their hellish road through the division that would see them play perennial powerhouse Florida in the second round. If Villanova goes down early, the East will be a complete tossup.

If you want to play it safe, take the Villanova Wildcats to scrape. But if you want to get some serious value, I'd ride with the West Virginia Mountaineers.

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