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NCAA Tournament – East Region Sweet 16 Preview

  • March 25, 2021
  • by admin

The East Region has been the most chalky bracket of this year’s NCAA Tournament. Despite a few upsets in the First Round, we have ended up with the no. 1, 2, 4, and 11 seeds. Of course, the no. 11 seed is one of the most prestigious programs in college basketball history, so this should be one of the most compelling regions to watch in the Sweet 16.

Michigan
After the injury to Isaiah Livers during the Big Ten Tournament, some wondered if Michigan might be the first no. 1 seed to fall. But the Wolverines survived the first weekend, even if there’s no guarantee that Livers can return. In fairness, Juwan Howard’s team got a serious scare from LSU in the Round of 32. But the team’s supporting cast stepped up with Livers unavailable to lead the Wolverines to the Sweet 16, which has become familiar territory for the program.

However, the spotlight will surely shift to stars Hunter Dickinson and Franz Wagner. Even if the Wolverines have a solid backcourt, Wagner and Dickinson need to deliver star performances to get Michigan back to the Final Four. That pair has been able to create mismatches all season, and with or without Livers, that remains Michigan’s best chance of winning.

Alabama
The SEC regular-season and tournament champions still may not be getting the respect and attention they deserve. The Crimson Tide is 26-6 on the season after avoiding a letdown against a feisty Iona team and then dominating Maryland in the Round of 32. With 96 points against the Terrapins, we saw just what the Alabama offense is capable of producing when things are clicking.

Nate Oats has his team playing just the way he likes. The Tide gets up and down the court at a frantic pace and is happy to launch a three-point shot at every opportunity. Virtually everyone on the floor for Alabama is capable of making a perimeter jump shot. Of course, the backcourt trio of Jaden Shackelford, Jahvon Quinerly, and John Petty is the most dangerous. When those three players are at the top of their game, Alabama can score enough points to keep pace with any team in the country.

Florida State
With all due respect, this year’s Florida State team isn’t as good as some of the teams Leonard Hamilton has had in recent years. But the Seminoles have found a way to win two games and looked noticeably better in their second game last weekend. Keep in mind that Colorado dropped 96 points on Georgetown in the First Round. But two days later, the FSU defense held them to just 53 points.

Defensively, Florida State can be special with the size and athleticism they have at every position. However, the Seminoles can be a little erratic offensively. We saw a lot of sloppy play during the ACC Tournament and 15 more turnovers against Colorado. Plus, the Seminoles never know where they’re going to get their offense. While there is no shortage of potential scorers, the likes of M.J. Walker, RaiQuan Gray, and Scottie Barnes aren’t always reliable to get buckets.

UCLA
The Bruins already have three wins in the tournament, although they are a little fortunate to be here. UCLA had to overcome an 11-point halftime deficit against Michigan State in the First Four. In fairness, things have been a little easier since the Bruins survived that game. They bounced BYU with a 73-62 win and reached the Sweet 16 with an emphatic 20-point win over would-be Cinderella candidate Abilene Christian.

Before we talk about UCLA some more be sure to check out BetQL’s moneyline dashboard this weekend if you are going to be betting on this game. There may be some great value on the side of the Bruins this weekend.

Sophomore Johnny Juzang is coming into his own right before our eyes. He’s had a good season but is now averaging 22.3 points per game in three tournament wins. Fellow sophomore Jaime Jaquez has also been a big part of UCLA’s success thanks to his long-range shooting. Cody Riley is also providing a nice post presence for the Bruins. But if UCLA is going to survive another weekend, they will need a little more scoring out of point guard Tyger Campbell, who would be the biggest X-factor for the Bruins.

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