Your Guide To The 2019 NCAA Men’s Tournament: East region

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East Area

Top seed outlook: As stated by this FiveThirtyEight model, high seed Duke gets the best chance of advancing to the Final Four at the entire area (53 percent likelihood ) in addition to the best odds of winning the national title (19 percent).
The Blue Devils are led by four soon-to-be first-round draft selections, including Zion Williamson, among the greatest talents in recent memory. Duke is a walking highlight reel on the offensive end and far stingier on protection than many may realize. This is one of Mike Krzyzewski’s most-balanced teams and jobs to be his first since 2010 to position inside the top six in Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted offense and protection metrics. That group won the national title.1
What this group lacks, however, is signature along the perimeter. Duke shoots a ghastly 30.2 percent from outside the arc, the worst mark among tournament-qualifying teams. In an offensive age increasingly dominated by space and perimeter scoring, the Blue Devils could buck the trend punishing the rim.
On the opposite side of the area is the winner of the Big Ten conference championship, Michigan State. As their benefit, the No. 2 Spartans have the honour of a possible matchup against the top overall seed in the Elite Eight. Head coach Tom Izzo was none too pleased. The Spartans are pummeled by injuries but remain among the most balanced teams in the country, ranking inside the top eight in Pomeroy’s adjusted offense and defense metrics.
Sneaky Final Four select: No. 4 Virginia Tech. Directed by the star pairing of Kerry Blackshear Jr. and Nickeil Alexander-Walker, the Hokies are a balanced squad which ranks among Pomeroy’s Top 25 teams on both the defense and offense. Although they’ve lost eight times, only two of these were by double-digits. Virginia Tech also includes a not-altogether-unfriendly draw, with exceptionally winnable opening games against Saint Louis (87% ) and the Mississippi State-Liberty winner (63 percent) before most likely running to Duke’s juggernaut. We provide the Hokies a respectable 25 percent chance against the Blue Devils — along with a 54 percent chance against whoever emerges from the base of the area if they do manage to knock off Duke.
Do not bet : No. 3 LSU. With coach Will Wade embroiled in a pay-for-play scandal and his group probably overvalued as a 3-seed, the Bayou Bengals may be ripe for an upset in this tournament. They ranked only 18th in Pomeroy’s evaluations — roughly the caliber of a No. 5 seed — thanks in large part to a defense that didn’t even decode the nation’s top 60 in adjusted efficiency. (This showed up in the 51 second-half points they allowed to Florida while shedding their first game of the SEC tournament.) Their NCAA path isn’t very easy, either: Yale is no pushover as a No. 14 seed, nor will be potential second-round competitor Maryland, also we give the Tigers a mere 26 percent likelihood of beating Michigan State when the groups meet at the Sweet Sixteen. That is easily the lowest-rated top-three seed in the field.
Cinderella see: No. 11 Belmont. The East is top-heavy, with Duke and Michigan State soaking up most of the Final Four odds. However, the Bruins are still an intriguing lower-seeded team because of an impressive offense led by do-everything swingman Dylan Windler. According to Pomeroy, Belmont ranks 20th in the nation in adjusted offensive efficiency (and second nationwide in raw points per game behind Gonzaga), whereas Windler was among only 3 players nationwide to average 20 points and 10 rebounds per game. Although the Bruins do need to win a play-in game against Temple only to make the field of 64 — we give them a 59 percent opportunity — they would have a very competitive 39 percent likelihood of upsetting Maryland in the first round and an even greater opportunity against the LSU/Yale winner.
Player to watch: Cassius Winston, Michigan State
Three decades back, zzo stated he believed his 6-foot-1 freshman would be Michigan State’s greatest passer because Magic Johnson. The Spartans’ do-everything point guard — one of the best facilitators in the nation — is supporting his trainer’s comment. Just Murray State’s Ja Morant, a surefire lottery pick in this year’s draft, has a greater assist speed than Winston (46.0 percent). And behind Winston, the Spartans help on the maximum rate of field goals in the country.
The junior also happens to be Izzo’s top scorer and one of the nation’s greatest perimeter threats, shooting better than 40 percent from beyond the arc. As injuries have relentlessly sapped the Spartans of their on-court creation, Winston has elevated his game to compensate. As he set it to The Athletic,”that I must do a whole lot for my own team to win”
Likeliest first-round upsets: No. 9 Central Florida over No. 8 VCU (47 percent); No. 11 Belmont* over No. 6 Maryland (39 percent); No. 10 Minnesota over No. 7 Louisville (34 percent)

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