The East Region of the NCAA Tournament was as chalky as it got in 2021. The First Round saw three double-digit seeds advance, only for order to be restored in the Round of 32. Ultimately, the no. 1, 2, and 4 seeds advanced as expected with the no. 11 seed being the only outlier in the Sweet 16.
That no. 11 seed is the UCLA Bruins, who had to overcome a deficit against Michigan State in the First Four just to enter the field of 64. However, that comeback win seemed to get the Bruins going. Kentucky transfer Johnny Juzang has led the way, including a 27-point performance against BYU. UCLA caught a break in the Round of 32 by being matched up with no. 14 Abilene Christian. The Wildcats stunned no. 3 Texas in the First Round with the Longhorns committing 23 turnovers and playing their worst game of the season. Of course, Abilene Christian couldn’t replicate that success on Monday, losing to UCLA 67-47, allowing the Bruins to sneak into the Sweet 16 in Mick Cronin’s second season in Westwood.
UCLA will meet up with no. 2 Alabama in the Sweet 16. The SEC regular-season and tournament champions held serve against both Iona and Maryland during the opening weekend. In fairness, the Crimson Tide had a little trouble pulling away from Rick Pitino’s Iona team in the First Round, leading by a single point at halftime and needing a 20-point performance from Herbert Jones to secure passage to the Round of 32. Beating Maryland turned out to be a little easier. After topping UConn in the First Round, the Terrapins only trailed Alabama by two points at halftime. But they couldn’t keep up in the second half with Alabama finishing the game with 16 made three-pointers, reaching the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2004.
UCLA has been a real Cinderella this tournament after winning their play in game against Michigan State. Find out if BetQL’s college basketball experts think this team will keep moving on to the Elite Eight this weekend.
In the top half of the East Region, no. 1 Michigan survived the first weekend of the tournament without Isaiah Livers. The Wolverines coasted past Texas Southern in the First Round but were challenged by no. 8 LSU in the Round of 32. The Tigers got 30 points from Cameron Thomas and 27 points from Javonte Smart, as Michigan’s defense struggled to slow down LSU’s potent offense. However, the Wolverines were able to orchestrate a second-half comeback, getting 21 points from Eli Brooks and 21 more points off the bench from Wake Forest grad transfer Chaundee Brown. It’s the fourth straight tournament the Wolverines will partake in the Sweet 16, putting Michigan just two wins away from its third Final Four trip in the last decade.
Finally, the no. 4 Florida State Seminoles will fill out the East Region. Leonard Hamilton’s team wasn’t exactly overpowering in two games, although the Seminoles found a way to complete double-digit wins over UNC-Greensboro and Colorado. The Buffaloes looked impressive in a 96-73 win over no. 12 Georgetown in the First Round. But the Colorado offense stalled against FSU, managing just 53 points. Star point guard McKinley Wright was held to just 10 points and one assist against the size and athleticism on Florida State, ending Colorado’s strong season and sending the Seminoles to their third consecutive Sweet 16.
If you are going to be betting the Sweet Sixteen this weekend make sure to check out BetQL where you can find over under, 1st Half, and consensus picks for every game this weekend.