2015 NCAA Tournament
Regionals – Syracuse, New York
All Odds Courtesy of Bovada
Now the brackets are out for the NCAA Tournament, let’s take an early look at the East region. We will look at the favorites, some potential sleepers, and some of the most intriguing match-ups and potential match-ups. All odds are courtesy of Bovada. Maddux clients can get a 10% sign up bonus to wager on these props.
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Villanova (9/5 to win region, 10/1 NCAA Tournament)
The Wildcats are 32-2 this season and the #2 overall seed in the tournament. Villanova hasn’t lost since January 19, a 15 game winning streak. The Wildcats won the Big East regular season title by 4 games and won the Big East Tournament for the first time since 1995. Villanova went 12-1 against NCAA tournament teams this season, with the only loss coming to Georgetown. Villanova averages 76 points a game and likes to run but the defense isn’t bad either allowing around 60 points per game. The Wildcats will be a tough out but there are some potentially tough match-ups. After a game against Patriot League champ Lafayette, North Carolina State could provide some challenges in the third round. Northern Iowa or Louisville are potential sweet 16 opponents and both are very dangerous. Virginia, Oklahoma or Providence could await in the Elite 8.
Virginia (9/4 region, 10/1 Tournament)
The 29-3 Cavaliers won the ACC regular season title for the second straight season. Virginia was upset by North Carolina in the ACC semifinals and the Cavaliers have lost 2 of their last 3 games. Until this week, Virginia was considered almost a lock for one of the four #1 seeds. Virginia leads the nation at defense allowing 50 points per game, but they can struggle to score. Guard Justin Anderson has missed the last 8 games with a broken finger and appendicitis. He looks to return for the tournament. Along with Malcolm Brogdon, he is one of the only reliable scorers for the Cavaliers. Virginia has certainly missed Anderson on offense. Virginia could face a tough game in the second round against an experienced Belmont team who knocked off heavy favorite Murray State in the OVC final on a buzzer beater. Virginia could face either Michigan State or Georgia in the third round. Michigan State would be intriguing because the Spartans beat the Cavaliers in the Sweet 16 last season. If Virginia survives that then they could face either Oklahoma or Providence in the Sweet 16.
Northern Iowa (8/1 region, 66/1 tournament)
Northern Iowa is 30-3 and is the #5 seed in this region. The Panthers finished second in the Missouri Valley a game behind Wichita State. Despite being mid-majors the Panthers and Shockers were both top 15 teams for most of the season. Norhtern Iowa won the MVC tournament. Like Virginia, Northern Iowa hangs their hats on defense allowing only 54 points a game, fourth best in the nation. If the Panthers can survive a rock fight in the second round against Wyoming then they have a good shot of upsetting a reeling Louisville team in the third round. Villanova could await in the Sweet 16, and if the Panthers can control the pace, then they can pull off the upset. This teem could be a dark horse final four contender.
Oklahoma (9/1 region, 50/1 tournament)
The Sooners are 22-10 and finished tied for second in the Big 12, widely considered to be the best conference in college basketball this season. The Big 12 has 3 of the four #3 seeds and a #2 seed in Kansas. Oklahoma lost to Iowa State in the semifinals of the Big 12 tournament. Oklahoma sometimes plays like an elite team but they are inconsistent and can struggle on offense at times. They should have little trouble with Albany in the second round, but Providence could provide a challenge in the third round. Virginia or Michigan state will be tough in the Sweet 16. It is impossible to predict which Sooners team will show up from game to game. They could just as easily make the final four as get upset in the early rounds.
Michigan State (12/1 region, 40/1 tournament)
Michigan State is 23-11 this season and finished third in the Big Ten. The Spartans lost in overtime to Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game. It isn’t often that Michigan State is seeded so low but they a #7 seed. Still apart from two narrow losses to Wisconsin, Michigan State has been playing much better than earlier in the season. This is very dangerous team and if they can get by Georgia in the second round then the Spartans could upset Virginia in the third round. I think Michigan State could make a run to the Final Four.
Louisville (14/1 region, 66/1 tournament)
Louisville is 24-8 this season and finished fourth in the ACC. The Cardinals lost to North Carolina in the ACC quarterfinals. This team hasn’t been the same since point guard Chris Jones was kicked off the team. Louisville has a tough second round game against UC-Irvine and the Cardinals could be ripe for the upset.
Other contenders in the region include #6 seed Providence (33/1), #8 NC State (25/1), #9 LSU (25/1), #10 Georgia (50/1), #11 Dayton 50/1), #12 Wyoming (50/1), and #11 Boise State (66/1). Of those teams I think North Carolina State has the best chance to make a deep run.
The East region has some of college basketball’s best coaches in Jay Wright (Villanova), Rick Pitino (Louisville), Tom Izzo (Michigan state), Lon Kruger (Oklahoma) and Tony Bennett (Virginia). It also inlcudes a lot of defensive minded teams so you could see some games in the 50’s or maybe even the 40’s. I think the regionals will see Northern Iowa upsetting Villanova and Michigan State beating Oklahoma. I like Northern Iowa to make the Final Four.
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