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Row12.com - A Community of Sports Writers and Fans!                                               ***Attention Writers***
 
NCAA Tournament: East Region Preview
By Mike Jasko

Best Round of 64 Match-Up

I found myself drawn to the Louisville-UC Irvine match-up for a couple of reasons. UC Irvine boasts 7'6” center, Mamadou Ndiaye, so it will be interesting to see how Louisville attacks the basket with him lurking inside. Louisville finished the season #17 in the AP, and definitely has a talented enough squad to win this region. Montrezl Harrell is perhaps the best NBA prospect in this region, his 15.7 PPG and 9.5 RPG make Louisville a formidable opponent for any team; they lost to undefeated in-state rival Kentucky earlier in the season by just eight points.

Best Potential Late-Round Match-up

Perhaps the most intriguing potential late-round match-up in this region would be the Sweet 16 showdown between Louisville and Villanova. The winner of that game could very well represent this region in the Final Four. Villanova has one of the best perimeter scoring teams in college basketball while Louisville tends to dominate inside. It will be up to the talent Terry Rozier, the sophomore guard for Louisville to attempt to contain Villanova's backcourt.

Region's Best Player

Probably the weakest region in terms of individual talent, Louisville's Montrezl Harrell stands out as the region's best player. The junior power forward would be a possible lottery pick if he leaves school this summer. In addition to his aforementioned 15.7 and 9.5 per contest, he shoots an efficient 57% from the field, including over 61% on 2-point shots. He's vital to Louisville's success in this tournament, accounting for 21.3% of the Cardinal's points this season.

Regional Champion Pick

Something gives me the feeling that Louisville's defensive prowess will enable them to knock off #1 Villanova as well as anyone else on the other side of the region. I'm suspicious of #2 Seed Virginia or #3 Seed Oklahoma even making it as far as the Elite Eight, meaning that if Louisville were to beat Villanova in the Sweet 16, they would likely be the region's top seed from that point on. I like Louisville to make their 11th Final Four in school history.

Rick Pitino

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