March Madness 2022 – East Region Preview & Picks

East Region preview and betting locks.

East Region Storylines

  • The East is arguably the toughest region in the tournament, riddled with blue-bloods who have remained consistent throughout the year, top seed and defending champions Baylor has only dropped six games while two through five seeds, Kentucky, Purdue and UCLA, have only dropped seven despite being in some of the toughest conferences in college hoops
  • Virginia Tech, Akron and Murray State are all conference champions and scorching hot right now, riding huge winning streaks entering the tournament – while they may not be the most talented teams in the tournament, they are playing with confidence and will be tough outs
  • UNC, Texas, and Marquette also lurk as three somewhat underachieving teams who have been up-and-down but are loaded with talent and proven to be able to compete with the best when they show up

East Region Schedule & Winners

No.1 Baylor vs No.16 Norfolk State (Thursday 2 p.m., TBS)

  • The defending Natty Champs are without top rebounder and defensive anchor after C Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua suffered a season-ending knee injury in February, but depth doesn’t seem to be an issue—they have four starters averaging double-figures and haven’t left the Top 10 all season thanks to a balanced offense and a relentless defense – however, their second-leading scorer and top shooter G LJ Cryer has played limited minutes due to a foot injury
  • Norfolk State is dancing for the second year in a row after losing only two conference games all year and winning the MEAC and is led by MEAC Player of the Year Joe Bryant who is a balanced scorer and even better FT shooter – Bryant has been to the free-throw line 133 times this year and missed only 10 of those attempts
  • Winner: Baylor

No. 2 Kentucky vs No. 15 Saint Peter’s (Thursday 7:10p.m., CBS)

  • This is not your typical John Calipari team filled with one-and-dones, six of the top seven players in the rotation are over 21-years-old and they are a talented bunch who can score the basketball a multitude of ways, every Wildcat is dangerous on the offensive end and potential Player of the Year Oscar Tshiebwe is dominant, averaging 17 PTS and 15.2 REB a game – The Wildcats have the potential to win it all
  • Saint Peter’s roll in as MAAC champs and are one of the best defensive teams in the country led by three-time MAAC Defensive Player of the Year K.C. Ndefo, who despite being only 6’7″, is top 20 in the country in blocks per game
  • Winner: Kentucky

No. 3 Purdue vs No. 14 Yale (Friday, 2:00pm, TBS)

  • The Boilermakers have the top offense in the country which can beat you inside and out, led by one of the most exciting players in the tournament and top NBA prospect G Jaden Ivey who can score from anywhere, and 7-foot-4 C Zach Edey who serves as a huge advantage for Purdue on the glass – however, Purdue ranks outside the top 100 defensively
  • Yale is a highly intelligent basketball team
  • Winner: Purdue

No. 4 UCLA vs No. 13 Akron (Thursday 9:50pm, TBS)

  • The Bruins play good defense (11th nationally) and don’t turn the ball over (5th nationally) which is a good recipe to win games in March, especially if you have three of the Pac-12’s top 20 scorers including G Johnny Juzang and G Jaime Jaquez Jr. who were major parts of UCLA’s Final 4 run last year – Juzang averaged 22.8 PPG in last years tournament
  • Akron also plays sound defense and their offense has a knack for getting to the charity stripe (17th overall in FTs attempted) plus they have multiple guys who can fill it up offensively – the MAC tournament MVP, F Enrique Freedman is only their third-leading scoring
  • Winner: UCLA

No. 5 St. Mary’s vs No. 12 Indiana (Thursday, 7:20pm, TNT)

  • St. Mary’s looks to slow the tempo and rely on their top 20 defense to limit opponents’ possessions, they can also stretch the floor with Forwards Kyle Bowen and Alex Ducas who are dangerous three-point shooters, when the Gaels are hitting shots, they can play with anyone – they knocked off Gonzaga, the top-ranked team in the tournament, on Feb. 26th
  • Indiana has experienced playing in one of the best conferences in the country and Trayce Jackson – Davis is a PROBLEM down low and should have a great game
  • Winner: St. Mary’s

No. 6 Texas vs No. 11 Virginia Tech (Friday, 4:30pm, TBS)

  • The Longhorns are limping into the Dance after losing five of their last eight and blowing a 20-point lead to TCU in the Big 12 tournament, mainly due to an offense that has struggled to score but their defense is a top unit in nearly every statistical category (PPG, efficiency and caused turnovers) making them a tough matchup – UT also leads the Big 12 in free-throw percentage (75.3) and fewest turnovers (11.7)
  • The Hokies are one of the hottest teams in basketball after winning 12 of their last 14 including a 15-point route over Duke in the ACC Championship, and they can shoot the lights out from beyond the arc, with five players who shoot 35% or better from three including G Hunter Cattoor – he nailed seven threes against Duke and nine earlier this season vs FSU
  • Winner: Virginia Tech

No. 7 Murray State vs No. 10 San Francisco (Thursday, 9:40pm, CBS)

  • Murray State is on a 20-game heater and has only lost twice all season, led by a three-headed monster of playmaking PG Justice Hill, sharp-shooting G Tevin Brown and bruising big-man K.J. Williams, who average over 48 PPG combined – Williams and Brown were on the Ja Morant 2019 team that upset Marquette in the first round
  • San Francisco’s first NCAA tournament bid since 1998 has been fueled by the veteran backcourt of seniors Jamaree Bouyea and Khalil Shabazz, while All-WCC player Yauhen Massalski is a force to be reckoned with posting 13 double-doubles and anchors a strong defense
  • Winner: Murray State

No. 8 North Carolina vs No. 9 Marquette (Thursday, 4:30pm, TBS)

  • UNC is one of the biggest and best rebounding teams in the country, led by 6-10 F Armando Bacot who was an ACC Player of the Year Candidate and averages a double-double, with the Heels ability to haul in boards, they look to get out in transition which leads them to a lot of trips to the line, where they had the best FT percentage in the ACC – UNC is an inconsistent team but if they show up, they can play with anybody
  • Marquette had a loaded schedule that included 12 ranked teams and was able to knock off Nova twice, Seton Hall twice, Illinois and Providence using first year HC Shaka Smart’s run-and-gun style that leaves opponents gasping for air – Smart has a ton of tournament experience from stints at VCU and Texas and is not afraid to turn games against more talented teams into a track meet
  • Winner: North Carolina