The one region where we don’t see the #1 seed as a top 3 team to make the Final 4 is in the East. The East is full of unique teams who have been streaky throughout the season and the 3 favorites we see out of this group are at the top of their game right now entering the tournament.
UCLA – #4 Seed
UCLA fell short to Gonzaga in last year’s Final 4 after a valiant effort that led to losing on a miraculous buzzer beater. The Bruins still kept the core from last year’s Final 4 team intact but have experienced injuries throughout the season for many of their key leaders. With the team mostly recovered, the Bruins led by Johnny Juzang are ready to make another run at the Final 4, this time entering the tournament as a #4 seed rather than one of the last 4 in the field.
Purdue – #3 Seed
Somehow Purdue has only managed to make the Final 4 two different times in school history and failed to win the National Championship in both of those seasons. Purdue is one of the winningest schools in Division I without a title under their belt. This year could be the year that Purdue finally puts an end to their years of suffering. This is one of the most talented teams we’ve seen out of the Boilermakers and they certainly have the talent to match up with any team in this field. Purdue is a real threat if they can get their defensive act together. Their offense is stable, being able to drop 80+ points on any team in this tournament, but they mismatch against certain teams and that can be the threat holding them back from winning their first tournament.
Kentucky – #2 Seed
The Wildcats find themselves in familiar territory among the top schools in the nation. John Calipari has yet another class of talented youngsters with multiple NBA prospects among them. This team isn’t the most talented team he’s ever had, but it still sits among the best talent in this field. Calipari has a tough 2nd draw in the winner of Murray State-San Francisco and then a potential matchup with Purdue ahead of them before taking on UCLA/Baylor/UNC in the Elite 8 which could spell trouble, but we know Calipari isn’t afraid of a challenge and has what it takes to be in high pressure situations.
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