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Final Four Picks - EAST

Continuing our stroll through the brackets, here are my picks in the East region. If you missed the Midwest, click here. For the West, click here.

1 Pitt over 16 East Tennessee St.: If the Panthers are smart, they either sit Levance Fields for this game, or severely limit his minutes. They'll need him as close to full strength as possible later on.
9 Tennessee over 8 Oklahoma St.: Two teams with very good offenses and suspect defenses. predicts Tennessee by one, which matches the results of my coin flip.
12 Wisconsin over 5 Florida St.:'s Giant Killers feature gives FSU a record 72.5|PERCENT| of suffering a major upset, pegging their lack of ballhandlers, huge turnover rate and inefficient offense as red flags. 
13 Portland St. over 4 Xavier: The Musketeers lost a ton of talent from last year's loaded squad, sport a negative turnover differential and rely far too much on free throws. It's a great recipe for Portland St. to spring the big upset.

6 UCLA over 11 VCU: VCU is the most popular sleeper pick in the history of Western Civilization, since everyone remembers Eric Maynor and company knocking off Duke. But UCLA's 3rd in the country in Offensive Efficiency and loaded with experience. A rare trend-bucking pick for the favorite.
3 Villanova over 14 American: American can play, and get bonus points for having a campus two miles from my old place in DC. Nova's too good and too tested to go down this early, though.
10 Minnesota over 7 Texas: Texas is a maddening team, having bagged some big wins early in the year only to follow up with a string of ugly losses. Tubby returns to the Big Dance with a win over the talented but far-too-erratic Abrams-James-Mason combo.
2 Duke over 15 Binghamton: If I'm Coach K, I'm giving Elliot Williams big minutes in this game to get him used to the tournament glare. They're going to need that extra athlete on the court against tougher opponents.

1 Pitt over 9 Tennessee: When they're both on the court, you won't miss the epic battle of 275-pound DeJuan Blair against Brian Williams, who's listed at 267 but checks in closer to 3-bills.
13 Portland St. over 12 Wisconsin: The numbers say it's completely irrational to pick the Vikings to win one game, let alone saunter into the Sweet 16. But the tourney's one-and-done format is all about irrational results. Plus we get to see another translucent Raivio brother for one more week, which is always fun.
3 Villanova over 6 UCLA: Very cagey of Nova to play just three times in downtown Philly's Wachovia Center, thus circumventing home pod rules and allowing the Cats to make the short ride in from the Main Line. Homecourt looms large in a matchup of two fairly even teams.
2 Duke over 10 Minnesota: Duke struggles against teams with a beefy inside presence. The Gophers lead the nation in Block |PERCENT|, but do it more with length and athleticism than brawn. The Devils get their revenge on Tubby Smith's comeback tournament win in '98.

1 Pitt over 13 Portland St.: The Vikings have no answer for Blair and Young and finally bow out. But we'll remember them as this year's Cinderella team.
3 Villanova over 2 Duke: Dante Cunningham proves too much for Duke's soft interior defense, while the Nova guards abuse Greg Paulus every time he steps on the court.

3 Villanova over 1 Pitt: A heated matchup of two intrastate, intraconference teams tilts Nova's way. Guard play does it again, as a hobbled Fields and company can't keep up with Reynolds, Fisher and Stokes.