NCAA Tournament East Region First Round: Place Your Bets

Shaun HartCorrespondent IMarch 17, 2009

NCAA Tournament East Region Preview

First Round - March 19-20

Pour yourself another Guinness and get your bookie on the phone. It's time to place your bets for the NCAA Tournament. Here's a quick rundown of the lines and my insider take on each game. Let the Madness begin! 

No. 1 Pittsburgh vs. No. 16 East Tennessee State

Spread: Pittsburgh -20.0

Backcourt Advantage: Pittsburgh

Frontcourt Advantage: Pittsburgh

Momentum: Pittsburgh

Bottom Line: The Panthers will be on a mission after bowing out of the Big East tourney early. This game will get out of hand like most 1 vs. 16 games do and it won't help that ETSU likes to play at a fast tempo. Enough points will be scored in this game that Pittsburgh will cover.

Shaun's Pick: Pittsburgh -20.0

No. 8 Oklahoma State vs. No. 9 Tennessee

Spread: Tennessee -2.0

Backcourt Advantage: Oklahoma State

Frontcourt Advantage: Tennessee

Momentum: Even

Bottom Line: The Cowboys are lethal from long range and Tennessee does a poor job guarding the perimeter. The Vols' Tyler Smith and Wayne Chism will probably be the two most talented players on the court, but Tennessee has been erratic this season. If Bruce Pearl can keep the Vols focused, especially on defense, they could win this game, but Oklahoma State is too dangerous.

Shaun's Pick: Oklahoma State +2.0

No. 5 Florida State vs. No. 12 Wisconsin

Spread: Florida State -2.5

Backcourt Advantage: Florida State

Frontcourt Advantage: Florida State

Momentum: Florida State

Bottom Line: This will be a slugfest, but Douglas and the Seminoles will find a way to win. Wisconsin is a very disciplined team who will grind games out with anyone, but they lack a go-to scorer on offense. Florida State should take care of business.

Shaun's Pick: Florida State -2.5

No. 4 Xavier vs. No. 13 Portland State

Spread: Xavier -11.0

Backcourt Advantage: Xavier

Frontcourt Advantage: Xavier

Momentum: Portland State

Bottom Line: Xavier won't be challenged in this one, unless it becomes a 3-point shooting contest. As long as the Musketeers stay patient on offense and limit their mistakes, they should move on to the second round rather easily.

Shaun's Pick: Xavier -11.0

No. 6 UCLA vs. No. 11 VCU

Spread: UCLA -7.0

Backcourt Advantage: UCLA

Frontcourt Advantage: UCLA

Momentum: Even

Bottom Line: VCU will give UCLA all it can handle, and could even win this game outright. UCLA is the better team and probably deserved a better seed, but if they don't put that behind them, they're going to struggle with a VCU team that is no stranger to tournament upsets (first-round upset win over No. 6 Duke in 2007).

Shaun's Pick: VCU +7.0

No. 3 Villanova vs. No. 14 American

Spread: Villanova -17.5

Backcourt Advantage: Villanova

Frontcourt Advantage: Villanova

Momentum: Villanova

Bottom Line: Nova will cruise in what is essentially a home game against a weak opponent. This will be a good warm-up for the Wildcats who will be poised to make a run to the Elite 8 or beyond.

Shaun's Pick: Villanova -17.5

No. 7 Texas vs. No. 10 Minnesota

Spread: Texas -4.0

Backcourt Advantage: Texas

Frontcourt Advantage: Texas

Momentum: Texas

Bottom Line: The inconsistent Longhorns are better than the Gophers, but which Texas team will show up? They beat UCLA and Villanova early in the season, but were like Jekyll and Hyde in Big 12 conference play. With the emergence of Dexter Pittman inside, the Longhorns should beat the pesky Gophers.

Shaun's Pick: Texas -4.0

No. 2 Duke vs. No. 15 Binghamton

Spread: Duke -22.5

Backcourt Advantage: Duke

Frontcourt Advantage: Duke

Momentum: Duke

Bottom Line: The Blue Devils will have this game locked up before halftime. Duke has been eliminated early in the past four tournaments, so Coach K will have his team ready and focused to avoid another tournament letdown, which could come in the second round vs. Texas. Binghamton will not be a factor though.

Shaun's Pick: Duke -22.5

Shaun's Midwest Region First Round Preview

Shaun's West Region First Round Preview

Shaun's South Region First Round Preview

Get all of your College Basketball picks against the spread at


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