With the field for the 2023 NCAA Men’s Tournament now official, we’re breaking down each team in the bracket in the lead up to the tournament. Here’s what you need to know about the East region.
[Free bracket contests for both tourneys | Printable Bracket: Men’s | Women’s]
29-5, Big Ten champions
Purdue began the season unranked after losing lottery pick Jaden Ivey to a 2022 team that earned the No. 3 seed and advanced to the Sweet 16. Now here he is back and better thanks to the unplanned appearance of Zach Edey.
The 7-4 center who joined Purdue as a three-star project in 2020 has become an unstoppable force and a National Player of the Year favorite as a junior. Edey averaged 22.3 points, 12.8 rebounds and 2.1 blocks as a junior while guiding Purdue to a No. 1 seed. He is surrounded by honorable mention All-Big Ten Braden Smith and Fletcher Loyer on a team ranked seventh nationally in KenPom’s adjusted offensive efficiency and 26th in defense. The Boilermakers have the highest odds of any of the No. 1 seeds, but Edey gives them a matchup nightmare and a chance to win any game.
No. 2 Marquette (+2500)
28-6, Big East champions
Like Purdue, Marquette was not expected to be here at the start of the season. The Golden Eagles entered the season without a single vote in the preseason AP Poll. They enter the NCAA tournament as one of the best teams in the country, having won nine straight games and 14 of their last 15.
Sophomore coach Shaka Smart accelerated the turnaround at Marquette in his sophomore season after taking over for Steve Wojciechowski in 2021. Now the challenge is to achieve what eluded him in Texas: NCAA tournament success. Marquette enters play eighth in the nation in adjusted offensive efficiency while featuring Big East player of the year Tyler Kolek, who filled the scoring box with 13.3 points, 7.7 assists, 4.2 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game while shoot 39.4% from 3- point distance
No. 3 Kansas State (+5000)
Here’s another team that shouldn’t be here. Like Purdue and Marquette, Kansas State entered the season outside the top 25. Boosted by Florida transfer Keyontae Johnson, Kansas State posted a third-place finish in the nation’s toughest conference. Johnson is one of the stories of the year recovering from a reported heart condition that nearly cost him his life in 2020 and ultimately ending his career in Florida.
He transferred to KSU to emerge as an All-Big 12 player and re-emerge as an NBA prospect. All after his basketball career was supposed to be over. The Wildcats rank 19th in the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency and they will prove tough.
No. 4 Tennessee (+3000)
Here’s a team that’s seeded more or less in line with their preseason expectations. The Vols began the season ranked No. 11 and earned the No. 4 rank after finishing in fifth place in a tough SEC. Unfortunately for the Vols, they could have been seeded higher and entered the tournament on a losing streak.
Tennessee lost elite starting point guard and defenseman Zakai Ziegler to a torn ACL on March 1. With no other true point guard on the roster, the Vols are limping and have lost two of their last three games. They rank second in the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency for the season. How that holds up without Ziegler in the lineup will be Tennessee’s biggest challenge.
No. 5 Duke (+2500)
What a change! Armed with a freshman class loaded with NBA prospects, Duke began the season ranked #7 in the nation. A 17-8 start knocked them out of the top 25 in Jon Scheyer’s first year as head coach. But since a Feb. 11 loss to Virginia, Duke hasn’t lost a game. He had six straight wins to close out the regular season and then three more to clinch the ACC tournament championship. Now there’s talk that Duke isn’t actually seeded in the line of five.
The Blue Devils feature an elite rim saver in freshman Dereck Lively and a versatile All-ACC freshman in forward Kyle Filipowski. They will be one of the most watched teams in the East and in the NCAA tournament.
No. 6 Kentucky (+4000)
Kentucky also saved its season from potential disaster. The Wildcats came close to being locked out of the tournament mid-season after starting the season ranked #4. A 10-6 start put the Wildcats out of the polls. But quality wins over Tennessee, Auburn, Mississippi State and Arkansas cleared the way for an NCAA bid. Although two losses in their last three games against Vanderbilt renewed questions about John Calipari’s team.
2022 National Player of the Year Oscar Tshiebwe returns from a team that suffered a historic loss to St. Peter’s last year as the No. 2 seed. Will he and the Wildcats find redemption with the pressure pent up, even a little?
No. 7 Michigan State (+10000)
In what has been a difficult winter in East Lansing, Tom Izzo has his Spartans back in the NCAA tournament for the 25th straight season. Michigan State finished fourth in the Big Ten in the regular season, and lost in the tournament quarterfinals to an Ohio State team that finished 13th in conference play. This is not the old state of Michigan.
If the Spartans make a move, they’ll do it behind All-Big Ten guard Tyson Walker, a senior sharpshooter who excels in big moments, including Michigan State’s first home game following a fatal mass shooting on campus in February. .
No. 8 Memphis (+8000)
26-8, AAC champions
For once under Penny Hardaway, Memphis doesn’t enter the NCAA tournament by relying heavily on highly rated freshmen. Memphis boasts a starting lineup that boasts a grand total of zero freshmen this season. In fact, the nine leading scorers for the Tigers are all seniors. First-team All-AAC players Kendric Davis (22.1 points, 5.6 assists per game) and DeAndre Williams (17.8 points, 8 rebounds per game, 42.6% 3-pointers) lead the way for a team from Memphis who ranks 26th in adjusted offense efficiency and 35th in defense.
This is a team that just beat No. 1 seed Houston in the AAC title game. It can hurt in March.
No. 9 Florida Atlantic (+20000)
31-3, CUSA champions
Florida Atlantic is a strong team on 3-point shooting (37.2%) with four players shooting 36.9% or better from distance. This is a dangerous asset in March. CUSA guards Johnell Davis and Alijah Martin lead the way on a team that ranks 32nd in adjusted offensive efficiency and 36th in defense. FAU’s first round matchup against Memphis is one of the most compelling of the first round.
No. 10 USC (+20000)
The Trojans finished third in the Pac-12 and feature a pair of All-Pac 12 guards in Boogie Ellis (18 points, 3.7 rebounds, 3 assists per game) and Drew Peterson (14 points, 6.2 rebounds, 4 assists per game). 4 assists per game). They rank in the top 50 in both offensive and defensive efficiency. This is not an elite USC team, but it is balanced and has a strong guard game, which can lead to tournament success.
N° 11 Providencia (+12500)
The Friars are as cold as it gets going into the NCAA tournament, having lost three in a row and four of their last five. Their only win since Feb. 18 came against a Georgetown team that just fired show icon Patrick Ewing. This is not what you want to see in March.
Providence ranks 16th in the nation in offensive efficiency but 108th in defense. You’ll need a big game from All-Big East forward and Kentucky transfer Bryce Hopkins (16.1 points, 8.5 rebounds per game) to have any chance against the Wildcats.
No. 12 Oral Roberts (+25000)
30-4, Summit League champions
Oral Roberts enters the NCAA tournament riding a 17-game winning streak and fresh off a Summit League championship. Her reward from him? A date with a red-hot Duke team with a chip on his shoulder.
Two-time Summit League player of the year Max Abmas (22.2 points, 4.4 rebounds, 4 assists per game; 37.7% shooting on 3s) is a bucket that’s been here before. He headed then-No. 15 seed Oral Roberts one run to the Sweet 16 in 2021 with wins over No. 2 seed Ohio State and No. 7 seed Florida. Now ORU is the No. 12 seed, but the road ahead may be more difficult.
No. 13 Louisiana (+50000)
26-7, Sun Belt champions
Louisiana has won five straight entering the tournament, but only had one game this season against a ranked team. They lost to Texas, 100-72 in December. All-Sun Belt forward Jordan Brown is a force in the post who has averaged 19.4 points and 8.7 rebounds this season. The Ragin Cajuns can convert it and they ranked 57th in offensive efficiency this year. But they rank 1456th in defense and face a tough task against a quality Tennessee team, even one that lacks its starting point guard.
No. 14 State of Montana (+100000)
25-9, Big Sky champions
The Bobcats won 13 of 14 en route to the Big Sky championship. They have three players scoring in double figures, including All-Big Sky forward Raequan Battle (17.4 points per game). Conference Defensive Player of the Year Darius Brown anchors a defense that ranks 73rd in defensive efficiency. But the Bobcats will have to fight for points against Kansas State with the 170th nationally ranked offense.
No. 15 Vermont (+100000)
23-10, champions America East
After an 8-10 start, Vermont rode to 14 straight wins to secure the America East crown. His reward is a matchup with an equally good Marquette team that just won the Big East. The Catamounts will need a big game from scoring leader Dylan Penn just to keep things interesting.
No. 16 South Texas (+100000)
14-20, SWAC champions
#16 Fairleigh Dickinson (+100000)
19-15, NEC champions
Texas Southern won the SWAC conference tournament despite finishing six games under .500 this season. Fairleigh Dickinson isn’t much better with 15 losses. Don’t expect to keep things interesting against Purdue, either.