March Madness is finally here, so buckle up your seatbelts — it’s going to be a wild ride.
There’s no shortage of drama with crazy buzzer-beaters and surprising upsets throughout the tournament. It’s time to fill out your bracket, so we’ll break it down by region, focusing on the East Region in this article.
This region features four legitimate contenders for the National Championship: Kentucky (+600), Baylor (+1400), Purdue (+1800), and UCLA (+2500). Defending champions Baylor secured a 1-seed with another strong season, but they’ll have their hands full with such formidable opponents.
Let’s not sleep on potential dark horses like Saint Mary’s and Texas, either. Both teams have the talent to surprise people and reach the Final Four. You could make the argument that the East Region is the toughest in the tournament, with six teams in the top 16 of Ken Pomeroy’s rankings.
March Madness East Region Schedule
- Round 1: Thursday, March 17 - Friday, March 18
- Round 2: Saturday, March 19 - Sunday, March 20
- Sweet 16: Thursday, March 24 - Friday, March 25
- Elite 8: Saturday, March 26 - Sunday, March 27
Basketball Betting Play of the Day
Slam home your basketball bets with BetMGM’s welcome offer: New BetMGM Sportsbook customers can bet $10 to win $200 in free bets.
Make a $10 moneyline bet on any game. If either team makes a three-point basket, you’ll win!
🏀 NBA Bet $10, Win $200: .
Read Anthony Cervino’s hands-on BetMGM Sportsbook review to learn more.
🤔 Want a different BetMGM welcome offer? New users can instead get up to $1,000 risk-free with code GAMEDAY. 👇
March Madness East Region Teams & Matchups
Each East Region team’s odds to reach the 2022 Final Four are provided by BetRivers Sportsbook.
(1) Baylor (+300)
(16) Norfolk State (+20000)
(8) North Carolina (+2000)
(9) Marquette (+5000)
(5) Saint Mary’s (+2000)
(12) Wyoming (+10000)/Indiana (+5000)
(4) UCLA (+350)
(13) Akron (+10000)
(6) Texas (+2000)
(11) Virginia Tech (+2500)
(3) Purdue (+300)
(14) Yale (+10000)
(7) Murray State (+6000)
(10) San Francisco (+6000)
(2) Kentucky (+150)
(15) Saint Peter’s (+10000)
March Madness East Region: Top 4 Seeds
Baylor finished the season with a 26-6 record, ranking ninth in adjusted offensive efficiency and 14th on defense. They had the 12th-toughest strength of schedule and highest in the East Region, highlighted by an impressive win over Kansas.
However, since starting the season 15-0, they’ve limped into the tournament going 11-6 over their last 17.
The Bears have been dealing with injuries, losing big man Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua to a season-ending injury, while star shooter LJ Cryer remains questionable. Baylor was knocked out in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Tournament, which does not bode well for their chances at another deep run.
They look like the most vulnerable 1-seed in the tournament, especially since they have to deal with such a stacked division.
Kentucky is ranked third in Pomeroy’s rankings, backed by an elite offense that was fourth in adjusted offensive efficiency. They have strong guard play with Sahvir Wheeler, three-point shooting with Kellan Grady, and one of the best players in college basketball in big man Oscar Tshiebwe.
The Wildcats advanced to the semifinals of the SEC Tournament before falling short in a close game against Tennessee. This is a team that ranked 28th in strength of schedule, which includes a blowout win against Kansas.
You can never count out coach John Calipari, especially when they come in the tournament with a high seed. Kentucky is currently favored to advance out of the East Region.
Purdue comes into the tournament at 15th in Pomeroy’s rankings, led by an elite offense that finished third in adjusted offensive efficiency.
The Boilermakers have a star guard in Jaden Ivey, a prolific scorer who could go in the top three of this year’s NBA Draft. They also have the talent to cause damage inside with Zach Edey and Trevion Williams.
This team can make it rain from beyond the arc, putting up a 39.1% three-point percentage. Purdue had a strong showing in the Big Ten Tournament before losing against a tough Iowa team.
UCLA is one of the most balanced teams in the nation, coming in 15th in adjusted offensive efficiency and 12th on defense. The Bruins return most of their roster from last year’s Final Four team, making them a force to be reckoned with in the East Region.
They’re led by athletic wings like Johnny Juzang and Jaime Jaquez. This is a team that made it to the final round of the Pac-12 Tournament before a tough eight-point loss to one of the tourney favorites in Arizona.
UCLA is equipped for another deep run this year, but it’s going to be a daunting task in a region with so many contenders.
March Madness East Region: Round 1 Upset Pick
(11) Virginia Tech over (6) Texas
Here we have two closely-matched teams, with Virginia Tech (23rd) and Texas (15th) in Pomeroy’s rankings. Virginia Tech comes into March Madness as one of the hottest teams in the nation, going 13-2 in their last 15 games, highlighted by their big ACC Tournament win over Duke.
Texas has a good team, led by a defense that ranked 13th in adjusted defensive efficiency, but they could be running into a freight train in this matchup against the red-hot Hokies. The Longhorns had a disappointing showing in the Big 12 Tournament, losing to TCU in the quarterfinals.
They look vulnerable for a first-round upset here.
Other East Upsets To Consider
- (10) San Francisco over (7) Murray State: San Francisco’s 19th-ranked defense could cause problems for Murray State.
March Madness East Region: Cinderella
(11) Virginia Tech
When trying to project which team will run through their region with a series of upsets in a Cinderella run, it’s always good to look to one of the hottest teams in the nation. Not only has Virginia Tech won 13 of their last 15 games, but they just knocked off Duke to win the ACC title.
This is a team that can really cause some damage from beyond the arc, ranking third in three-point percentage this season. Getting hot from long-range is one of the best recipes for an upset.
Other East Cinderellas To Consider
- (10) San Francisco: Star point guard Jamaree Bouyea could carry this team to a surprising run.
March Madness Region Predictions
March Madness East Region Prediction
East Region Winner Pick: (2) Kentucky Over (4) UCLA
While UCLA returns all five starters from last year’s Final Four team, Kentucky has the coaching and star power to outlast the competition in the East Region. Oscar Tshiebweis an absolute menace on the inside, averaging 17 points and 15.2 rebounds this season. It’s going to be tough for opponents to contain him on the glass.
Add in the fact that it’s extremely difficult for a team to get to the Final Four in consecutive seasons, and you have to go with Kentucky here. Look for the Wildcats to bounce back after missing the tournament in 2021.
March Madness East Region: Best Bets
All March Madness betting odds are current as of 11 a.m. ET on Monday, March 14.
Kentucky (+150) to win East Region at BetRivers Sportsbook
Wager: 1 Unit
The Wildcats are the class of this region, led by one of the best players in college basketball in Oscar Tshiebwe. The kid is an absolute beast on the glass and it’s tough to see any defense being able to contain him. Add in a legend like coach John Calipari and you have a recipe for success in Kentucky.
Virginia Tech (+2500) to win East Region at BetRivers Sportsbook
Wager: 0.5 Unit
It’s a good idea to mix up a favorite with a longshot with your futures bet in the East Region.
Virginia Tech has the pieces in place for a Cinderella run. They’re playing their best basketball of the season right now, demonstrating their ability to knock off high-level opponents like Duke.
At 25-to-1, they’re terrific value.
Virginia Tech +1 (-112) vs Texas at BetRivers Sportsbook
Wager: 1 Unit
Here we have two teams headed in opposite directions. Despite Texas pulling the higher seed, the Longhorns are only favored by one point. This line tells us that oddsmakers project this game to be close, but keeps Texas as the slight favorite due to their higher seed.
Virginia Tech is rolling right now, looking poised to make noise in the tournament. Look for the Hokies to get it done here.
Kentucky -17 (-110) vs Saint Peter’s at BetRivers Sportsbook
Wager: 1 Unit
Kentucky is favored to win the East Region, so look for them to get off to a roaring start against Saint Peter’s, a team that ranked 259th in adjusted offensive efficiency.
It’s hard to see them keeping pace with a Wildcats team that had the fourth-best offense in the country. This game looks like a 20+ point blowout for Kentucky.
UCLA -13.5 (-110) vs Akron at BetRivers Sportsbook
Wager: 1 Unit
The Bruins have the ammo to make another deep run in the tournament. They take on an Akron team that ranks outside of the Top 100 in both offensive and defensive adjusted efficiency. This is a team that plays at a slow pace and will need to play terrific defense to slow down the Bruins.
I don’t see that happening here. This has the look of another blowout.