2021 NCAA Tournament East Region Predictions
Selection Sunday has come and gone and the brackets are out. The 2021 NCAA Tournament East region looks to be very even and wide open. The top seeds in the region include Michigan, Alabama, Texas, and Florida State. Here are the matchups and predictions for the NCAA Tournament East region:
(1) Michigan vs (16) Texas Southern/Mount St. Marys
The top seed in the East region, the Michigan Wolverines captured the final number one seed with a 20-4 record. After an 18-1 start to the season, the Wolverines dropped three of their last five games including a 23 point loss to another number one seed in Illinois. Their second-leading scorer, forward Isaiah Livers, broke his foot in the first round of the Big Ten tournament so he likely won’t be available for the whole tournament.
Michigan awaits Thursday’s winner between Texas Southern and Mount St. Marys. Livers’ absence won’t be noticeable this game but could be down the road. Michigan should win big and cruise to the second round.
(8) LSU vs (9) St. Bonaventure
LSU comes into the NCAA Tournament after a runner-up finish in the SEC tournament, losing to Alabama by one. But the Tigers have quality wins this year against Missouri, Tennessee, and Arkansas twice. They also have some bad losses against Georgia and Kentucky. Depth could be an issue if the Tigers get into foul trouble because their top four scorers combine for almost 67 of the 82 points they average per game. Guard Cameron Thomas leads the way averaging just under 23 points per game.
St. Bonaventure has yet to play a top 25 team this year. Their most notable wins were against Atlantic 10 rival VCU. The Bonnies took two out of three including a nine-point win in the conference championship games.
The two teams do have one common opponent in Saint Louis, however. LSU lost to them by 4 in the second game of the season and St. Bonaventure split against St. Louis. They lost by 11 in their first matchup and won by 18 in the conference tournament.
The Tigers’ offense should be able to carry them to victory against what is a very stingy St. Bonaventure defense. But the Bonnies don’t shoot well from the three-point line and that could hold them back as well. Give me LSU to advance.
(5) Colorado vs (12) Georgetown
Every year 12 seeds are popular upset picks and this one could fall into that category. Colorado had a terrific season but lost the PAC-12 tournament final to Oregon State, snapping the Buffaloes’ six-game win streak. However, Colorado beat them in the previous two meetings. The Buffaloes also beat USC three times while splitting with both Oregon and UCLA.
Head coach Patrick Ewing and his Georgetown squad are a true Cinderella to make it to this point. The Hoyas had a losing record going into the Big East tournament. But they managed to win four games in four days, including a 25 point beat down of 17th ranked Creighton in the final.
There is something to be said about coming off a run as the Hoyas did going into the first game of the tournament. Colorado is a solid team but they are coming off a loss to a team in Oregon State that wouldn’t have made the tournament without that win. Georgetown has the belief to pull off the upset. Give me Georgetown.
(4) Florida State vs (13) UNC Greensboro
Florida State is a heavy favorite in this matchup. They have wins this year against Florida and Virginia. The Seminoles split with Clemson and beat North Carolina two out of three times. However, they did lose to Georgia Tech two out of three times including in the ACC championship game.
UNC Greensboro finished the year 21-8, winning the regular season and conference tournament in the Southern Conference. They are currently on a four-game win streak, their third four or more game-winning streak this year. Guard Isaiah Miller leads the Spartans with 19 points per game but is the only player in double digits. They also don’t have anyone shooting over 33% from the three-point line. In addition, an eight-point loss to Winthrop was their only game this year against an NCAA Tournament team.
Florida State should cruise to a comfortable double digit win.
(6) BYU vs (11) Michigan State/UCLA
BYU is coming off their third loss of the season to Gonzaga in the West Coast Conference championship game. The Cougars cruised in a very weak conference other than Gonzaga. They do have a quality 10 point win over San Diego State but they also got blown out by 26 against USC earlier this year. They shoot it well from the three-point line as a team, especially guard Alex Barcello. He shoots over 48% from three and averages a team-high 16 points per game. Overall a tough team to figure out.
BYU will face the winner of UCLA and Michigan State. UCLA had a very solid campaign until they dropped their final four games. However, the Bruins will be without Senior guard Chris Smith who tore his ACL back in December.
Michigan State wasn’t an NCAA Tournament team three weeks ago. But back-to-back wins over Illinois and Ohio State at the end of February and a win over Michigan to end the regular season impressed the committee enough to squeak in the tournament.
This time of year the team with the better guard play has the advantage and that is UCLA. Although they are reeling, they should move on to play BYU. BYU did play Gonzaga closer than most teams this year so give me BYU to advance regardless of who they play.
(3) Texas vs (14) Abilene Christian
Texas is coming off their first Big 12 tournament title in school history. But they will need to bring the focus in this in-state matchup. They are led by their three exceptional guards Andrew Jones, Matt Coleman III, and Courtney Ramey who are the team’s three leading scorers.
Abilene Christian can play. They don’t have a stand-out offensive threat but they hold their opponents to 60 points per game. They lost to Arkansas by 13 and to Texas Tech by seven in their two toughest games of the year. Texas also lost to Texas Tech twice before beating them by one in the conference tournament.
This could be a grind for Texas in the first half but I expect them to pull away in the second half.
Uconn finished third in the Big East this year with a record of 15-7 but lost to Creighton in the semifinals of the conference tournament. They only have one quality win this year by beating USC by three. In addition, the Huskies’ leading scorer, James Bouknight, missed some time in January and February with an injury. They are 11-3 with him in the lineup, but secondary scoring may be an issue.
Maryland also seemed to hit their stride in February when they rattled off five wins in a row. They played a tough schedule in a grueling conference. However, the Terrapins have a quality win against Illinois and splits with Rutgers, Purdue, and Wisconsin.
On the surface, this looks to be a coin flip but I’m heavily leaning towards Maryland. They have wins against good teams and are used to playing tough games.
The SEC champion Alabama Crimson Tide look to make a deep run in a region that is up for grabs. They had a season-long 10 game winning streak in January and are currently on a six-game winning streak. They have four guys who average 11 points or more and can shoot the ball well from the three-point line.
Former Louisville head coach Rick Pitino is back in the NCAA Tournament in his first year at Iona. This is the fifth school he has taken to the tournament. The Gaels finished the year on a six-game win streak and won 10 of their last 12. Their only notable game was a 22 point loss to Seton Hall to begin the year.
Iona may be slightly underseeded but Alabama should have no problem advancing in this game.
Round of 32
(1) Michigan vs (8) LSU
This could prove to be a tough second-round matchup for the top seed in the East region. LSU struggles to defend in the paint but with forward Isaiah Livers out, center Hunter Dickinson will have to carry the load offensively for Michigan. Dickinson leads the team in scoring with 14 points per game but will need to do more to advance. This would only be the Wolverines’ third game without Livers although they did lose a close game to Ohio State in the Big Ten semifinals.
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LSU has the better guard play with Cameron Thomas and Ja’Vonte Smart who average a combined 38 points per game. LSU played very well down the stretch and proved they are a tough out.
This time of year guard play can carry a team and LSU has found that rhythm. Because of that, give me LSU to upset the Wolverines in a close nail biter.
(4) Florida State vs (12) Georgetown
The Cinderella story of the Georgetown Hoyas has been something to watch, but I think this is the end for Patrick Ewing’s team. The Seminoles can shoot the ball well and second-chance points will prove to be costly for the Hoyas. Georgetown will need a historic game from Jahvon Blair to have any chance. Therefore give me Florida State by 15.
(3) Texas vs (6) BYU
Both teams are led by their guards with the edge going to Texas in that category. However, after a tough first round, I think Texas will find its groove against BYU. The experience of playing in the Big 12 this year with six other tournament teams will prove to be beneficial to the Longhorns and have them ready to win this game. Texas by seven.
(2) Alabama vs (10) Maryland
Alabama and Maryland share one common opponent this year in Clemson. Both lost to the Tigers in the same week. Alabama lost by eight and Maryland lost by 16. Maryland got a big win against Illinois but lost many others to top teams in the country. The Terrapins lost to Iowa, Ohio State, and Michigan three times. Alabama is playing good ball and should win this comfortably by double digits.
(4) Florida State vs (8) LSU
There won’t be much love for the big man in this game because Guard play on both sides will be at the forefront for This game could turn into a track meet real fast with both averaging around 80 points per game. Two very evenly matched teams. Four seeds are 4-5 all-time against eight seeds. I’ll take LSU to continue their magical run to the Elite Eight with a one-possession win.
(2) Alabama vs (3) Texas
This is a matchup you would expect on the gridiron and not the hardwood. Once again these are two very similar teams. Each team’s three leading scorers are all guards but Alabama has a slight edge in three-point shooting. This is going to be a back-and-forth game throughout. If either team goes cold for a stretch of time, it could cost them the game. Give me Alabama by four and advance to the Elite Eight.
(2) Alabama vs (8) LSU
A rematch of the SEC Championship game that saw Alabama win by one as LSU barely missed a putback attempt at the buzzer. This would be their fourth meeting of the season. Alabama won the previous three by 30, 18, and one. However, each time the Tigers have gotten closer to coming out with a win. But three games is a pattern and will be in the head of the LSU players. Give me Alabama to win the East region and make their first final four in school history.
The First Four will take place on Thursday while the first-round action will be Friday and Saturday.
How do you think the NCAA Tournament’s East Region will play out? Leave a comment below.
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