East Region Preview
It’s National Championship or bust for the Kentucky Wildcats. To get there, though, they first will have to battle through tough East Region odds in a tough bracket.
The Wildcats start off the tournament with what should be an easy win over East Tennessee State. Kentucky is a 20-point favorite at Bovada in the game, but bettors may want to be cautious because the ‘cats were 7-11 ATS this season as double-digit favorites.
When Kentucky advances past East Tennessee State they’ll meet up with the winner of No. 8 Texas vs. No. 9 Wake Forest in the second round. This is a tough matchup to call and the oddsmakers agree after listing the Longhorns as only a 4-point favorite.
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Texas started off the season smoking hot with 17 straight wins to get to No. 1 in the nation. Since then they’re a dismal 6-9, and they fell out of the Top 25 completely. The Demon Deacons ended the season on a sour note with five losses in their last six games, which included a quick exit in the ACC Tournament.
On the other side of the bracket No. 2 West Virginia is also all but assured advancement to the second round, as they get Morgan State in their opener. The Mountaineers, who have won six in a row, are a 17.5-point favorite. West Virginia was 5-8 ATS as a double-digit favorite this season.
Next up for West Virginia in the second round will be the winner of No. 7 Clemson vs. No. 10 Missouri in a battle of the Tigers. Bovada are keeping it very close in this one, listing Clemson as a small 1-point favorite.
Clemson has a history of bombing in the tournament; they haven’t made it beyond one-and-done since 1997. Missouri made it all the way to the Elite Eight in last year’s tourney in their first trip to the Big Dance since 2003.
The No. 12 vs. No. 5 history of upsets has received a lot of hype heading into the tournament and that trend could continue in the East. No. 5 Temple faces No. 12 Cornell in the East and most experts think both the Owls and the Big Red were under-seeded in the tourney. The Owls are 4-point favorite and have won 10 straight, but Cornell does have some tourney experience with their third straight trip to the Madness.
Another potential upset in the East is No. 6 Marquette vs. No. 11 Washington. The Golden Eagles are only a 1.5-point favorite in the game and they will be in tough against a Huskies squad that has won 12 of their last 14 games.
The rest of the East Region’s first-round schedule includes No. 3 New Mexico (-9) vs. No. 14 Montana and No. 4 Wisconsin (-9.5) vs. No. 13 Wofford in what are expected to be blowouts.