PJ’s Predictions: Round of 64, East Region


Bob Donnan

Mar 22, 2019; Columbia, SC, USA; The Duke Blue Devils bench reacts during the second half against the North Dakota State Bison in the first round of the 2019 NCAA Tournament at Colonial Life Arena. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

After Wednesday’s last two games of the First Four, the first round is starting. Beginning with sixty-four teams, college basketball fans get ready to watch all of the exciting matchups. There will be thirty-two games in the round after the First Four. Many people have made brackets, with a big upset in the first round, a lot of people could lose right away, which would be very upsetting. Or they will see the team they picked come out and play great getting ready for the second round. In the East region, the first game will be the seventh seed Louisville facing the tenth seed Minnesota. Louisville is a team who has proved to be great at times but are not consistent. They have beaten teams like UNC and Virginia Tech but in their last ten games, they have been 3-7 only beating Notre Dame twice and Clemson once. Although they have struggled late in the year they are still very good and finished seventh in the best conference in college basketball. Minnesota has been on fire lately, they went into the tournament and beat Penn State and Purdue but lost to Michigan. They have proved to be able to beat talent, but they have lost to teams like Rutgers and Nebraska. This will be a very competitive game, down the stretch, Louisville will prove to be the more talented team and win it. The next game to be played in the East will be the third-ranked LSU versus the fourteenth ranked Yale. This may appear to be an unbalanced game and a clear victory for LSU. However, Yale has been on a tear and showed their dominance in the Ivy League tournament. Also, LSU will be without their head coach, which has caused them to struggle lately. Although these factors affect the game greatly, the Ivy League is not very talented, and LSU has proven to be able to beat teams like Florida without Will Wade. The Tigers will show their talent and bring it to the second round. The third matchup will be the Big Ten champions. Michigan State going up against Bradley, the MEAC champs after a huge comeback. This game is unevenly balanced with regards to talent, and the Spartans should take care of business. However, you never know what Bradley could do, maybe another comeback, but it is not likely. Twenty-five minutes after that game, the fourth matchup will start, Maryland versus Belmont. Maryland has struggled late in the season losing in their first game in the big ten tournament but has shown they can be a successful team. They lost to Nebraska in the first round, a team that has proven to be very bad this season. Belmont, full of excitement, will come out hot as the underdogs. They are a lower seed but many people have picked them to beat Maryland, and for good reason. Belmont has played very well against top teams and has blown out the competition in their own conference. This game could be very close, but Belmont will pull out the upset going from a First Four team to the second round. The next game will be a highly watched game, Duke versus North Dakota State. This game will not be watched because of the matchup, but because of the Blue Devils. Every Duke game this season has been exciting to watch as the four freshmen continue to show their dominance. This game will not be very close and the clear winner will be Duke. Last year Virginia was a first seed and lost to a sixteen seed, but Duke will not make the same mistake. Nearing the end of the first round in the east region, Liberty will go up against Mississippi State. Liberty has been hyped up by many analysts, picking them to win this game, but they have not had much competition. Their toughest game was Alabama and they lost by nine. Mississippi State is a team that is in the SEC and has to face top teams every week. They have not defeated top teams like Tennessee, but have been able to contend with them. They take care of business when they play against teams that they are better than. This might be a close game considering many analysts have chosen Liberty to win. However, they have not proven they could win so Mississippi will come out on top and go to the second round. The last game of the first round in the east region is VCU versus UCF. VCU is a very talented team showing their dominance in their conference, but they have not seen a player like Tacko Fall in the paint yet. He is seven feet six inches tall and averages, 2.5 blocks a game. VCU will put up a fight but the Knights will pull out the win.