Not a lot of surprises in the East Region, other than how easily UNC manhandled their opponents. Tennessee was brought to the brink by both American and Drake, but in the end all 4 top seeds have advanced to the Regional semi-finals.
#1 North Carolina v. #4 Washington State
As mentioned, the Tarheels just ran over their first 2 opponents, averaging 110 points and winning by an average of 40 points. While a Washington State upset may not be very likely, look for the Cougars to put up a much better fight than anyone UNC has faced yet. The Cougars pride themselves on the defensive end and they will have their hands full with Tyler Hansbrough and crew.
Washington State does bring in an experienced team as they start 3 seniors and 2 juniors.They have only given up a total of 81 points in their first two Tourney games and held a dangerous Notre Dame offense to only 41 points. This game is going to be close, but in the end North Carolina's athleticism will be able to outmatch the tough defense brought by Washington State. Just don't expect UNC to score over 90 points in this win.
PREDICTION: North Carolina 82, Washington State 74
#2 Tennessee v. #3 Louisville
This may be the most anticipated matchup of the Sweet 16. Louisville has been a streaking team ever since they returned David Padgett and Edgar Sosa from injury. Tennessee, on the other hand, is an explosive team that has seemed to be misfiring so far in the NCAAs. They were taken to the wire against both Drake and American while Louisville cruised over Boise State and Oklahoma.
Tennessee likes to run and gun on offense while setting up a suffocating defensive press. However, Louisville has solid guard play in Andre McGee and Jerry Smith. The Vols will need for Chris Lofton to be on from down town while Tyler Smith and Wayne Chism will have to keep the Cardinal's David Padgett and Earl Clark off the boards.
Both teams run out very athletic teams and both are lead by flashy, flamboyant coaches in Rick Patino and Bruce Pearl. I trust Rick Patino more than I do Pearl, and Louisville has been on the rise while Tennessee as not put together a great game in the Tourney. In the end Padgett, will be pivotal in the middle and Louisville will be able to keep the Volunteer 3-point shooters down just enough to pull out the win.
PREDICTION: Lousiville 88, Tennessee 84