NCAA Tournament 2017 East Region – First Impressions
Mar 11, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Villanova Wildcats forward Darryl Reynolds (45) and Villanova Wildcats guard Josh Hart (3) hold the championship trophy after defeating the Creighton Bluejays in the Big East Conference Tournament final game at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
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Selection Sunday is in the books. The field of 68 is set. Now, the fun of the NCAA Tournament 2017 can begin! So get your brackets out, because it is time to fill them out!
The number one overall seed has been awarded to the Villanova Wildcats of the Big East Conference. As a result, Nova will be the number one seed in the East Region. But there is much more to a region than just its one seed. So let’s take a look at who else will be fighting to make it to the Final Four out of this East Region.
The regions matchups can be seen below.
1) Villanova16) Mount Saint Mary’s/New Orleans8) Wisconsin9) Virginia Tech5) Virginia12) UNC Wilmington4) Florida13) East Tennessee State6) SMU11) Providence/USC3) Baylor14) New Mexico State7) South Carolina10) Marquette2) Duke15) Troy
So with those eight matchups set, it is time to get into the good stuff. Without getting too deep into any numbers, here are some of my initial impressions when I saw this section of the bracket released.
Villanova should be able to walk to the Elite Eight
When you are the top team in the nation, you should be able make a run to the Elite Eight without much issue. Well, that’s what it looks like for Nova. The top team in this field of 68 appears to have minimal roadblocks on their path.
Given they are a one, moving them past the 16 seed is a safe bet. After that, we have either Wisconsin or Virginia Tech. Wisconsin is a team moving in the wrong direction. Virginia Tech is simply an average team. Neither one of them scares me if I’m Nova.
Then in the bottom portion of the top half, well I will get into that shortly. At the end of the day, Nova should be able to slide into the Elite Eight.
Virginia, Florida, and Baylor need to be careful in their first game
This is a region primed for some upsets. Virginia, Baylor and Florida are all single digit seeds who all have weaknesses. They also happen to be facing smaller conference teams that are extremely talented.
Virginia is a team that can look really good one night, and then really really bad the next. They also happen to be in the 5-12 game against a very solid 12 seed in UNC Wilmington. So they better not take this game lightly, or things will be ending soon for the Cavs.
Then we have Florida, who is dealing with some injuries on their end. They draw the 13 seeded East Tennessee State, who may be the top 13 seed in this field. This one could easily go to the double-digit seed if the Gators do not take it seriously.
Then finally we have Baylor. They are a team that started the year strong, and were in the one seed talk for quite some time. Then they reached their peak. It has been downhill ever since then, as they have shown they have plenty of flaws. Now put them against New Mexico State, and this could be a quick exit for the Bears.
SMU is set for a nice run
SMU is the team I was most high on going into Selection Sunday. They have four guys on their team that they can put their faith in during the closing seconds of a game, whether they are winning or losing. So before seeing the matchups, I knew they were going to be a team I would be interested in seeing in terms of where they fell.
Then I saw their potential opponents. And I loved what I saw. They open against a play-in game winner, neither of who scare me. After that, they would either get Baylor or New Mexico State. You already know I do not like Baylor. As for New Mexico State, I think SMU’s talent would win out.
Assuming they get this far, they are likely going to be taking on Duke. This is where their first real challenge would come. SMU does have a bit of a depth issue, but their talent will be enough to get them to at least the Sweet Sixteen. Talent-wise, they have enough to go toe-to-toe with the Blue Devils. While I will not bank on a win there, I could certainly see it coming to fruition.
Villanova, SMU or Duke will emerge from this region
I will keep this short and simple. Outside of these three teams, I do not see anyone capable of taking these three down. These three are the most talented teams in this group of 16 (18 counting play in games). No upsets will be coming in this region when it comes to these three. Im riding these three hard this season.
So there you have it folks. Those were my thoughts upon seeing the bracket for the first time. Some of these thoughts may change a little after looking deeper into the numbers. But they always say go with your gut. And this is what my gut says!