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The East Region of the 2019 NCAA Tournament is already loaded with superstars but it is one of the more intriguing regions in the entire tournament.
Each of the top four seeds advanced to the Regional semifinals, No. 1 Duke, No. 2 Michigan State, No. 3 LSU and No. 4 Virginia Tech. Each team brings in an interesting dynamic to the region.
Zion Williamson and Duke are the clear favorites, but Michigan State is a more than formidable No. 2. With the fascinating stories of both LSU and Virginia Tech, if one of them gets an upset, it will surely be the talking point of college basketball.
Sweet 16 action begins on Friday, March 29 with No. 3 LSU playing No. 2 Michigan State at 7:09 p.m. on CBS. Following that game, No. 4 Virginia Tech plays Duke at 9:39 pm. also on CBS.
The winners will play in the Elite 8 on Sunday, March 31 at either 2:00 p.m. or 4:55 p.m. on CBS.
Can Zion deliver for Duke?
Every night Williamson gives the average college basketball fan a reason to tune in. And every morning you can count on him punch his ticket to SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays.
However, can college basketball’s biggest star since Blake Griffin carry his team to the title? A reminder: Griffin only took Oklahoma to the Elite Eight. Kevin Durant’s Texas squad only made it to the Sweet 16 in one try.
Even for Duke, the history when led by a likely one-and-done talent isn’t great. Marvin Bagley Jr. didn’t take home the title in 2018, neither did Jayson Tatum (2017). Jahlil Okafor was the last Duke star to lead his team to a championship on another loaded Blue Devils team where Grayson Allen was on the bench.
Williamson is phenomenal and in all likelihood will be drafted first in this year’s NBA Draft. But, that doesn’t come with any guarantees that he can lead his team with future NBA players R.J. Barrett, Cam Reddish and Tre Jones to a title.
Buzz Williams’ Lone Dream Run with the Hokies?
Buzz Williams has been linked to several high profile coach openings this offseason. It is reported that Texas A&M has Williams as their top choice to fill their vacancy and also to there is some interest from UCLA. With the Hokies, Williams turned the team around into a Associated Press Top 25 program and pushed them to their first Sweet 16 in over 50 years.
They were a popular upset pick in the First and Second Rounds with all of the departure rumors. Now, can the Hokies continue their run against stiffer competition with Williams not shutting down these rumors?
Oh, and last time Williams was in Washington D.C. for the NCAA Tournament, his Marquette team went to the Elite Eight.
Another Duke-Michigan State Collision Course
The Duke Blue Devils and Michigan State Spartans have had some memorable match-ups in the past several seasons. Once again it appears we are on a path with Mike Krzyzewski and Tom Izzo’s teams meeting for a high stakes Final Four contest.
If the two squads were to meet in the Elite Eight, it would be the eighth time since 2010 that they played each other. Of those eight, two of them were in the NCAA Tournament with Duke taking both contests.
What could have been for Tremont Waters in D.C.
LSU sophomore Tremont Waters will make his first collegiate appearance at Capitol One when his Tigers play the Michigan State Spartans for a spot in the East Regional Final. Under normal circumstances it is not too peculiar, but for Waters he could have had potentially 30+ games in that same arena.
Waters once committed to play for the Georgetown Hoyas during his recruiting process. Once John Thompson III got fired, he reopened his recruiting and committed to Louisiana State.