March Madness 2023 – East Region Preview

March Madness 2023 East Region Schedule, Preview & Picks

East Region Storylines

  • Purdue holds the top seed in the East coming off Big Ten regular-season and tournament titles, largely in part to National Player of the Year favorite Zach Edey, who dominates the paint with his 7’4″, 305-pound frame and will look to lead the Boilermakers to their first Final Four appearance since 1980
  • Two other Power 6 conference champions also loom in the East, as No. 2 Marquette (Big East) and No. 5 Duke (ACC) are fresh off tournament titles as well and are red-hot entering the dance – the Blue Devils have emerged as America’s “sleeper pick” to make a deep run
  • And Jon Scheyer’s team isn’t the only blue blood of the pack, as John Calipari’s No. 6 Kentucky Wildcats will look to avenge a first-round exit from last season, while Tom Izzo and No. 7 Michigan State could be poised to make a run with an offensive juggernaut fueled by a scary lineup of three-point shooters.
  • No. 3 Kansas State, No. 4 Tennessee, No. 8 Memphis, No. 10 USC, and No. 11 Providence are also prominent programs familiar with the big stage and no short of talent
  • A handful of experienced lower-seeded teams round out a deep region, as No. 12 Oral Roberts returns to the dance after busting brackets in 2021 with a trip to the Sweet 16 as a 15-seed, while No. 14 Montana State and No. 15 Vermont are dancing for a second-straight year – No. 13 Louisiana and No. 9 Florida Atlantic also have the talent to stir things up

East Region Schedule and Preview

No. 1 Purdue vs. No. 16 Fairleigh Dickinson / Texas Southern (Friday, 6:50pm ET, TBD)

  • Led by national player of the year favorite Zach Edey, the Boilermakers secured the Big Ten regular season and tournament title to earn a one-seed. At 7’4″, 305 pounds, Edey is the first Big Ten player since 1964 to lead the league in scoring (22.3), rebounding (12.8) and field goal percentage (60.6%). Purdue ranks as one of the top teams in the nation in adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency, but a 4-4 stretch to end the regular season exposed their lack of a secondary scorer (G Fletcher Loyer, 10.9 PPG, is their only other player averaging over 10 points per game) and a shortage of athleticism, which will be tested deeper in the tournament
  • Winner: Purdue

No. 2 Marquette vs. No. 15 Vermont (Friday, 2:45pm ET, CBS)

  • The Golden Eagles are soaring into the dance on a nine-game winning streak capped off by a Big East title. Ranking second in the country in fast break points, they push the pace to convert easy buckets, allowing four players to average double figures in scoring. Big East Player of the Year Tyler Kolek is their engine and ranks second in the nation in assists per game (7.7), fourth in assist/turnover ratio, and shoots 39.4% from three. They are 21-1 against teams in Quad 2 and below, so they’ve taken care of lesser opponents thus far, but they’ve struggled inside against more physical opponents
  • If anybody’s hotter than Marquette, it’s Vermont, who has won 15 straight games while dominating the American East. Under John Becker, the Catamounts are well-coached, take care of the ball (top-25 in assist/turnover ratio) and can shoot the three. As a 13-seed last year, they lost to No. 4 Arkansas by just four points. This year, they’re more experienced and just as dangerous
  • Winner: Marquette

No. 3 Kansas State vs. No. 14 Montana State (Friday, 9:40pm ET, CBS)

  • The Wildcats finished third in a robust Big 12 conference thanks to their suffocating defense, which has held opponents to an effective field-goal rate of 47.5% and right at 30% from three-point range. The high-scoring duo of Keyontae Johnson (17.7) and Markquis Nowell (16.8) can fill it up on the offensive end, but the team ranks an alarming 312th in turnover rate, with 14.2 per game
  • The Big Sky champs also have a stingy defense (66.6 PPG) and are one of the best teams in the country at getting to the free-throw line, averaging more than 23 attempts per game. Washington transfer RaeQuan Battle (17.4 PPG) is their guy offensively, taking more than 35% of the team’s shots, but he doesn’t get much help
  • Winner: Kansas State

No. 4 Tennessee vs. No. 13 Louisiana (Thursday, 9:40pm ET, CBS)

  • The Vols beat Alabama, Kansas and Texas by an average of 11.3 points per win, but after an 18-3 start, they lost seven of their last 12 games, and even worse, their star PG Zakai Zeigler tore his ACL in late February. They led the nation in defensive efficiency for the majority of the season but are inconsistent on offense. With a deep rotation of veterans, they still have enough talent to make a run, but harnessing momentum will be a challenge
  • Former five-star recruit and McDonald’s All-America Jordan Brown is the name to remember. At Arizona, the 6’11, 225-pound forward was named Pac-12 Sixth Man of the Year in 2020-21 before transferring and is a main reason why Louisiana is one of the best rebounding teams in the tournament. Fresh off a Sun Belt title, the Ragin’ Cajuns are hot and the type of team that could raise eyebrows in round one
  • Winner: Louisiana

No. 5 Duke vs. No. 12 Oral Roberts (Thursday, 7:10pm ET, CBS)

  • The Blue Devils are one of the hottest teams in the country right now and have won nine straight games, including a win against Virginia in the ACC championship. Center Kyle Filipowski was named ACC Freshman of the Year and led all freshmen nationally in double-doubles (16) and rebounds (8.9). He can score inside and out and leads a talented class that boasts three of the top four 2022 recruits. Inconsistency from three led to a mid-season skid, but the Dukies seem to be hitting their stride at the right time and are talented enough to beat anybody
  • Oral Roberts wreaked havoc in the bracket two years ago, making the Sweet 16 as a No. 15 seed, and are now riding a 17-game win streak with their last loss coming on November 22nd. They have four current starters who were key contributors during their 2021 run, including 6’0″ G Max Abmas, who is a two-time Summit League Player of the Year and averaging 22.2 points per game, which ranks among the top 10 in the country and is a flame-thrower from deep. They won’t sneak up on anyone this time, but they can still serve as bracket-busters
  • Winner: Duke

No. 6 Kentucky vs. No. 11 Providence (Friday, 7:10pm ET, CBS)

  • After returning National Player of the Year Oscar Tshiebwe and ranking fourth in the preseason polls, Kentucky went on a downward spiral setting up a season-long roller coaster ride. Despite all the inconsistency (and injuries), one thing remains constant, Tshiebwe has the Wildcats ranking second in offensive rebound percentage, allowing them to reel in nearly 40% of their own misses. The talent is there, and UK is much healthier than they were two months ago, but poor defense remains their Achilles heal
  • The Friars are also among the nation’s best in second-chance points but are 1-5 when they lose the rebounding battle and have struggled to defend quality shooting teams. Coincidentally, Kentucky transfer Bryce Hopkins is their best player, scoring 16.1 points per game, while four other players are averaging double figures. They have quality wins against Marquette and UConn but have lost three of their last four games
  • Winner: Kentucky

No. 7 Michigan State vs. #10 USC (Friday, 12:15pm ET, CBS)

  • Nobody shoots the three in the Power 6 better than the Spartans, which finished the regular season at 40.1% from beyond the arc. Three of their top four scorers are above 40 percent; Joey Hauser (45.6), Jaden Akins (43.6) and Tyson Walker (42.3). All three players have attempted more than 100 threes, and Malik Hall shoots 38.1% from downtown as well. Their concern is on the defensive side of the ball, where they’ve struggled to contain perimeter scoring, but if Tom Izzo can tighten that up, they have the offensive firepower to make some noise
  • USC is a solid all-around team and one of the only clubs that rank in the top 50 in both offensive and defensive efficiency. They’re particularly strong defending inside the paint, with a collective size and length that has produced over five blocked shots a game. Unlike the Spartans, they don’t take a ton of threes and use a more methodical approach on the offensive end, led by senior guards Boogie Ellis and Drew Peterson
  • Winner: Michigan State

No. 8 Memphis vs. No. 9 Florida Atlantic (Friday, 9:20pm ET, TNT)

  • Penny Hardaway has the Tigers dancing for the second consecutive year after finishing second in the AAC behind Houston. They are aggressive on both ends of the floor and are one of the nation’s best in transition. They can score in a hurry but also have the tendency to overextend themselves on defense. The combination leads to big runs of their own and for opponents. With their pace of play, they roll deep with a legitimate 11-man rotation, but G Kendric Davis (22.1 PPG) and F DeAndre Williams (17.6 PPG) are their go-to guys on offense and both first-team AAC players. If they can stay disciplined on the defensive end, they can make a push
  • Florida Atlantic is talented and confident. They strung together a 20-game winning streak in the middle of the season, which earned them their first appearance in the AP Top 25 in school history. They have a balanced attack that ranks in the top 40 in offensive and defensive efficiency and lead the nation in bench points. However, they’re one of the smallest teams in the tournament, with an average roster height of 6’3″, and only have two regulars who are above 6’4″
  • Winner: Memphis