The East region features the number one overall seed the Duke Blue Devils. The Blue Devils are coming off their 21st ACC tournament championship most in conference history 12th title since 1999.
Duke is led by the four talented freshman Tre Jones, R.J. Barrett, Cam Reddish, and quite possible the national player of the year in Zion Williamson. Here is a breakdown of the dark horses, Cinderella, and standouts that exist in the East:
Dark Horse Teams
Head Coach Buzz Williams leads his Hokies into the tournament as a #4 Seed they will be opening up against the Atlantic 10 Conference Champion St. Louis Bilikens on Friday Night. This season under Williams the Hokies are 24-8 with wins for Duke and Purdue. They will also be making their third straight trip to the dance under Williams.
The Hokies are lead in scoring by sophomore Nickeil Alexander-Walker with 16.6 points per game. Junior Kerry Blackshear Jr. is second on the team in scoring with 14.7 point per game average he also leads the team in rebounding averaging 7.4 boards per game.
LSU heads into the tournament without Head Coach Will Wade. He is out on an indefinite suspension due to damaging a wiretap recordings.
The Tigers still went on to capture the SEC regular season title under interim coach Tony Benford however they did lose in the SEC Quarterfinals to the Florida Gators. LSU as Michigan was last season could quite possibly be a very dangerous three seed in the NCAA Tournament.
The Bruins always seem to be that Cinderella team in whatever region they get put in. The Bruins will be playing Temple in the first four game on Tuesday night in Dayton, Ohio. Belmont lost to Murray State on Saturday in the Ohio Valley Conference Championship game.
The Bruins are coached by Rick Byrd who is in his 23rd season at Belmont and has accumulated 712 wins as a head coach. The Bruins are lead in scoring and rebounding by senior Dylan Windler who is averaging 21.4 points per game.
East Region Favorites
Coach Mike Krzyzewski is in search of National Championship number six. His team is led by Zion Williamson who is averaging 22.1 points. They have another lottery pick in R.J. Barrett who is averaging 22.9 points per game.
Zion also leads the team in rebounds 8.9 boards per game, steals 2.2 per game and block shots 1.8. Besides Barrett and Williamson, Duke is led by two more freshman.
Tre Jones leads Duke in assists with 5.3 per game while averaging 9.3 points per game.
Cam Reddish is third on the team on scoring averaging 13.7 points per game. With those four very talented freshman and Coach K’s experience, look for the Blue Devils to cut down the net.
Michigan State Spartans
Tom Izzo’s bunch enter the tournament on a high after taking down cross state rival Michigan Wolverines to take home the school’s sixth conference tournament championship.
The Spartans are always a team to watch out for under Izzo. The Spartans have reached the final four five times taking home the National Championship in 2000. They are led in scoring, assists and steals by junior guard Cassius Winston. He is averaging 18.9 points per game, 7.6 assists per game and 1 steal per game.
Between Winston and Goings they make a formidable 1-2 combo and could help the Spartans return to Minnesota and the Final Four.
Top Five Standout Players
- Zion Williamson (Duke)
- R.J. Barrett (Duke)
- Cassius Winston (Michigan State)
- Jordan Nwora (Louisville)
- Dylan Windler (Belmont)
Prediction: #1 Seed Duke Blue Devils over #2 Michigan State in Elite 8 with Duke advancing to the Final Four.