2010 March Madness: East Regional Preview

Jeff SmithCorrespondent IMarch 15, 2010

The field of 65 has been picked, the regional brackets are set, and all the teams have been seeded, so let the madness begin.

Starting on Tuesday with the play-in game between Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Winthrop, the march to this year’s Final Four in Indianapolis gets underway.

With 64 games to go before we crown a new national champion, there are bound to be some ugly blowouts, close calls, and shocking upsets before we find out which two teams will play for the title on April 5.

Here is a brief preview of some of the teams to watch coming out of the East Regional, along with their current odds to win it all.


Final Four Favorites

Kentucky Wildcats (7-2)

The Wildcats have been atop the polls all season long as one of the two or three best teams in the nation. They finished with an overall record of 32-2 and were 14-2 in conference play. They were the SEC East regular season champions and won the SEC Tournament with a dramatic last-second 75-74 win over Mississippi State in overtime.

Kentucky is led by a pair of freshman studs, G John Wall and F DeMarcus Cousins, who make up for a lack of experience with a ton of talent.


West Virginia Mountaineers (10-1)

The Mountaineers (27-6) finished the regular season as the third best team in the Big East but went on to win the tournament by beating Georgetown in the final, 60-58. They come into the NCAAs as the No. 2 seed in the East but are really more like a 1A.

They are led by a trio of forwards; senior Da’Sean Butler, sophomore Kevin Jones, and sophomore Devin Ebanks anchor one of the more formidable starting lineups in the country. If these three can continue to play at a high level, it will be tough for anyone to knock them out.


Cinderella Sleeper

New Mexico Lobos (40-1)

The Lobos of New Mexico are coming off one of the best seasons in school history. They are currently ranked No. 10 in the country with an overall record of 29-4. They won the Mountain West Conference with a 14-2 record. The only blemish in their last 16 games is a 69-72 loss in the conference tournament semifinals to San Diego State.

Junior G Darington Hobson leads the team in scoring, averaging 16.2 points per game, and rebounding with 9.2. Senior F Roman Martinez is averaging 13.8 points per game, and junior G Dairese Gary is averaging 12.7. If they can get past their first two games, they will be a scary team to face in the Sweet 16.


Bracket Buster

Marquette Golden Eagles (50-1)

The Golden Eagles come out of the Big East with an overall record of 22-11 and a hard-fought 11-7 record in conference play. They finished the regular season on a roll, winning nine of their final 11 games, and knocked Villanova out of the Big East Tournament, beating them 80-76.

To make a deep run they will rely heavily on senior F Lazar Hayward, who is averaging 18.1 points per game and 7.7 rebounds, and junior G-F Jimmy Butler, who is averaging 14.9 points and 6.4 rebounds.

If they can get by New Mexico in the second round, it could set up a rematch with conference foe West Virginia in the Sweet 16—a team they lost to by only one point, 62-63, earlier in the year.