Breaking Down the East Region - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Breaking Down the East Region

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The East Regional is by far the toughest in the draw. Top-seeded North Carolina has no easy road to the Final Four. If it advances to the Sweet 16, it's looking at a potential matchup with Texas and freshman phenom Kevin Durant. Beyond that lies a possible meeting with second-seeded Georgetown, which obliterated the field in the Big East Tournament in New York over the weekend.

The regional includes one of the most intriguing first-round matchups in Marquette facing Michigan State; it pits teacher Tom Izzo against student Tom Crean, who was his assistant coach.

The region has a lot of great intrigue, including the question 'how good is Vanderbilt?' which was tabbed sixth. The X-factor is Washington State, which is patient, frustrating and far better than anyone realizes.

Another tasty treat is Southern Cal playing Arkansas in the first round. Neither would have made the 65-team draw a week ago but each played its way in.


Best matchup of the first round
It would be hard to beat Boston College vs. Texas Tech. The Eagles have run dry at times since the dismissal of Sean Williams for violating team rules. The Red Raiders have beaten Texas A&M twice and are capable of the big upset. This one's going to be a war.


Most likely first-round upset
Oral Roberts is as formidable a first-round opponent as anyone can draw. Washington State should handle them, but this is certainly an upset possibility.


Region's biggest impact player
Ladies and Gentlemen, meet Kevin Durant. The 6-9 freshman from the University of Texas and Sports Illustrated cover boy. He might be the best player in the country. If not, he is the No. 2 NBA Draft pick behind Greg Oden from Ohio State. Durant does so much well -- shoot, pass, rebound -- that he merits comparisons to the all-time best.


Region's biggest sleeper player
Vanderbilt has a pair of big-time talents in 6-7 Derrick Byars and 6-6 Shan Foster, who both can score on the drive or the outside shot. The rest of the team is big on skill and chemistry but not athletic talent. Watch how these two dominate a game -- it's pure beauty.


Prediction for regional final
Fourth-seeded Texas will meet second-seeded Georgetown. The Hoyas haven't played this well in decades and it's right to expect them to run right over the Longhorns. It's been a long time since the Big East produced a champion this dominant.


Prediction for region's Final Four representative
There's no way one doesn't like Georgetown. The best Big East team playing at it's best for the season? Is there anyone in a major conference as stacked as the Hoyas?


Most surprising team to make it to the second weekend?
It would have to be, based on seeding alone, Vanderbilt.

The Commodores play basketball the right way. A lot of people will be impressed that a team that's not so athletic can accomplish so much.


Who's hot, who's not
Obviously UNC is hot after winning the ACC title game. So is Georgetown after winning the Big East and Texas after taking Kansas to OT in the Big 12 final. You have to give the nod right here to Georgetown: who is prepared to defend a team that runs a Princeton style offense with NBA talent?


First round predictions
No. 1 North Carolina over No. 16 Eastern Kentucky
No. 9 Michigan State over No. 8 Marquette
No. 5 Southern Cal over No. 12 Arkansas
No. 4 Texas over No. 13 New Mexico State
No. 6 Vanderbilt over No. 11 George Washington
No. 14 Oral Roberts over No. 3 Washington State
No. 10 Texas Tech over No. 7 Boston College
No. 2 Georgetown over No. 15 Belmont


- Roger Rubin covers college sports for the New York Daily News and will be covering college basketball in the East region every week for NBCSports.com.

For more college basketball coverage visit NBCSports.com

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