NCAA Basketball Tournament 2011: East Regional Bracket Preview

The East region features some very interesting first and second round matchups, including a couple of play-in games early in the week. The top-rated Ohio State Buckeyes await the winner of UT-San Antonio and Alabama State, and their region is so deep, they could face a team like Villanova in the second round.

This will not be a very easy region to come out of, but that's what makes March Madness so enticing. Here are the matchups, predictions, and some upset alerts for your East region bracket.

Play-In Games

(12 Seed)

March 15 9:10 PM EST

UAB Blazers (22-8) vs. Clemson Tigers (21-11)

Prediction: CLEMSON

Tigers have the top defense in the ACC, and played 35 great minutes against North Carolina in the semi-finals of the ACC Tournament.

(16 Seed)

March 16 6:40 PM EST

UT-San Antonio Roadrunners (19-13) vs. Alabama State Hornets (17-17)

Prediction: UT-SAN ANTONIO

Alabama State's offense is really lacking for firepower. UT-SA is riding a five game winning streak coming into this game. I like the Roadrunners.

Round Two Games

March 18th 4:30 PM ET

(1) Ohio St. Buckeyes (32-2) vs. (16) Winner of UT-SA/Alabama St.

Prediction: OHIO STATE

No 16 seed has ever beaten a top seed. The Buckeyes are too big, too fast, too good for any 16 seed.

March 18th 2:10 PM ET

(8) George Mason Patriots (26-8) vs. (9) Villanova Wildcats (21-11)

Prediction:  VILLANOVA

The Wildcats are ice cold right now, but that's because they played in the toughest conference in America. I don't know how long they will last, but I know they are good enough to take a round one game.

March 17th

(5) West Virginia Mountaineers (20-11) vs. (12) Winner of UAB/Clemson

Prediction:  WEST VIRGINIA

But it's very close. I really like Clemson right now, but they could make it all moot by losing in the play-in. WVU is well-coached and battle tested. They are the safe pick.

March 17th 2:45 PM ET

(4) Kentucky Wildcats (25-8) vs. (13) Princeton Tigers (25-6)

Prediction:  KENTUCKY

Right now, Kentucky is red hot and even though Princeton was able to win the Ivy League Tournament, I think Calipari's crew will be much too much to handle.

March 18th 7:27 PM ET

(6) Xavier Musketeers (24-7) vs. (11) Marquette Golden Eagles (20-14)

**UPSET ALERT**

Prediction: MARQUETTE

Marquette is the top scoring offense in all of the Big East. While I think Xavier is a very solid team, and they have the leadership of guard Tu Holloway, but can they stop Marquette's offense?

March 18th 9:57 PM ET

(3) Syracuse Orange (26-7) vs. (13) Indiana State Sycamores

Prediction: SYRACUSE

You can pretty much take this one to the bank. Indiana State barely snuck into the tournament, and Syracuse finished 3rd in the Big East and has a Hall of Fame coach. This would be a very big upset.

March 18th 9:45 PM ET

(7) Washington Huskies (23-10) vs. (10) Georgia Bulldogs (21-11)

Prediction: WASHINGTON

Georgia is somewhat limping into the tournament here while the Washington Huskies just came off an extremely impressive run in the Pac-10 tournament. Led by guard Isaiah Thomas, I think the Huskies will take this one.

March 18th 7:15 PM ET

(2) North Carolina Tar Heels (26-7) vs. (15) Long Island Blackbirds (27-5)

Prediction: NORTH CAROLINA

UNC has too much length and too much talent, even though LIU is on a 13-game winning streak right now. Look for UNC to get their feet back underneath them in this game after a loss to Duke.

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