This article is part of our NCAA Tournament Preview series.
It seems most analysts have dubbed the East Region the easiest, or chalkiest, of the four regions, and while I'll stop short of calling myself an analyst, I won't throw much shade on that assumption. Simply put, this seems like the most likely side of a bracket to pencil in the top four seeds into the tournament's second weekend and move on. What follows hopefully just casts a bit of doubt on those projections, rather than serves as a declaration that upsets will be abound in the East.
No. 1 Villanova Wildcats
You'd be hard pressed to find a team better suited for March than the Wildcats. Six players average 27.1 minutes or more, all of which average at least 10.3 points. Guard Jalen Brunson (19.4 ppg, 4.7 apg) leads the way while Mikal Bridges (18.0 ppg, 5.4 rpg) is a future first-round pick. Young but skilled, Eric Paschall (10.3 ppg, 5.1 rpg) and freshman Omari Spellman (10.7 ppg, 7.9 rpg) add size up front. Their four losses came by a combined 23 points and they can come at you in any way your team can't defend, ranking first in offensive efficiency and effective field goal percentage, per KenPom.
No. 2 Purdue Boilermakers
Having righted the ship following a three-game losing streak in early February, Purdue looks built for a deep run in March. Guard Carsen Edwards (18.5 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 3.0 apg) leads an offense that ranks second in efficiency and fifth in effective field goal percentage, per KenPom, while also ranking second in 3-point percentage, hitting an impressive 42.0 percent.