2024 NCAA Tournament Preview: East Region

March 21, 2024

Let’s preview the East Region.

First Round Games That Could Go Either Way

#8 Florida Atlantic vs. #9 Northwestern (Friday, approximately 12:15 PM ET – CBS)

On paper, this Owls team is pretty similar to the one that made it all the way to the Final Four last season. That’s the bad news for Northwestern. The good news is that the Wildcats have had a tremendous season themselves, in no small part thanks to point guard Boo Bouie, who has been terrorizing opposing defenses with his ability to get to the basket for the past five seasons in Evanston. Northwestern is good enough to send Dusty May’s team packing early.

#5 San Diego State vs. #12 UAB (Friday, approximately 1:45 PM ET – TNT)

Talking about Final Four participants from last season will become something of a trend in this region’s preview. Last year’s runner up, the Aztecs are back as a No. 5 seed and drew a tough UAB squad that is peaking at the right time. The Blazers stole a bid last Sunday and will be looking to steal a victory against one of the most efficient defensive squads in the country according to KenPom.

#7 Washington State vs. #10 Drake (Thursday, approximately 10:05 PM ET – TruTV)

The Bulldogs are one of the better shooting teams in the country, both from inside and behind the arc. This, along with the star combo waiting to shine in the father-son DeVries duo, has Drake on the cusp of becoming a national story with a few victories. Getting the first one won’t be an easy task, however – Washington State is one of the more underrated squads in the entire country, taking down Arizona not once but twice this season, and generally flying below the radar of most fans and pundits alike after beginning the season with low expectations for success from those outside the program.

Team That Could Make a Run


The Cougars’ inaugural season as part of the Big 12 Conference has been a rousing success, but the story hasn’t been completely written just yet. Mark Pope’s team was not projected to be much of a factor in the ultra-difficult Big 12, but the Cougars managed to hold their own despite a weak non-conference appetizer.

If BYU gets hot from behind the arc, watch out. No one in the Tournament lets it fly from behind the arc more than the Cougars, which average over 32 three-pointers per contest. An X-factor will be guard Richie Saunders, a scrappy player that has a knack for getting into the paint to create his own shot.

Remember The Name

Terrence Shannon, Jr., Illinois

It has been a bit of a bumpy road at times, but Terrance Shannon, Jr. has made a strong claim as the most important player for a Big Ten team not named Zach Edey. The 6’6” senior is strong, possesses great ballhandling skills and has displays incredible quickness in getting to the basket. The NBA almost certainly awaits, but first, a possible deep run in March.

When Illinois needs a bucket, there are few better players in college basketball to rely on for one than Shannon. He will seemingly give Illinois confidence that it have a shot to emerge victorious in any close game.

Tucker DeVries, Drake

Only two other players in this year’s NCAA Tournament score at a higher clip per game than DeVries, and both are mentioned in the blurb just above this one. DeVries will likely be a new name for fans that don’t follow the mid-majors closely, but he’s in-line to be one half of the next great father-son story in March, which are always fun.

What his dad has been able to assemble at Drake as head coach is impressive on its own, but there is something special about the fact that it simply doesn’t happen without Tucker and his ability to score from anywhere on the floor.

Around The Corn’s Picks

First Round

#1 Connecticut over #16 Stetson

#8 Florida Atlantic over #9 Northwestern

#5 San Diego State over #12 UAB

#4 Auburn over #13 Yale

#6 BYU over #11 Duquesne

#3 Illinois over #14 Morehead State

#10 Drake over #7 Washington State (upset alert)

#2 Iowa State over #15 South Dakota State

Second Round

#1 Connecticut over #8 Florida Atlantic

#4 Auburn over #5 San Diego State

#6 BYU over #3 Illinois (upset alert)

#10 Drake over #2 Iowa State (upset alert)

Sweet 16

#1 Connecticut over #4 Auburn

#6 BYU over #10 Drake

Elite 8

#1 Connecticut over #6 BYU

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