The East region should be one of the more competitive regions in this year's NCAA tournament. 

Villanova is the top bet in Las Vegas to win the title, but teams like Texas Tech and Purdue all have been considered one of the better teams in the country this year, and Wichita State, Florida and West Virginia have enough talent to create matchup nightmares for any team. 

This one is a tough one to predict, but here's the best sleeper and upset alerts in the East region. 


Wichita State

Obviously this doesn't pertain to the first weekend. 

The Shockers can't be considered a true sleeper with being seeded higher than their opponents in the first weekend, so I'm fast-forwarding to next weekend, when I anticipate Wichita State will make life tough for Villanova and whoever comes out of the bottom-half of the bracket. 

Wichita State is going to be able to score with anybody, including Villanova. And it always seems during tournament time, the Shockers step up their defensive pressure. 

The committee didn't do Villanova any favors with having the Shockers on their side of the bracket. Four players average double-figures in points for Wichita State, so that balance should give Wichita State an edge during most games. 

If you're looking for one of those four-seeds to make the Final Four, Wichita State has as good of a shot as anybody. 

Upset alerts

Murray State vs. West Virginia

I'm not sure if this is going to happen, but the Mountaineers should be alarmed. West Virginia just isn't great on the offensive side of the ball, so if they're not turning you over at a high rate, they're in trouble. 

That always creates some consternation in these first-round games, especially against a Murray State team that is top-30 in the nation in offensive and defensive efficiency. 

Murray State can score. Can West Virginia score with them? This is a bad draw for the Mountaineers. 

St. Bonaventure vs. Florida

Barely making it in the tournament hasn't been a detriment in the past. So I'm not concerned with the Bonnies having to travel to Dayton for the play-in game. 

They won, so now they get a Florida team with a ton of talent, but laden with inconsistency. 

Once again, I worry about the higher seed's ability to consistently score, so if the Gators go cold for long stretches, St. Bonaventure has enough on the offensive side of the ball to make Florida pay. 

Best first-round picks

S.F. Austin vs. Texas Tech (-11) 

In my day, I would have definitely jumped on the S.F. Austin hype train. A team with only six losses as a 14 seed? Book them to the Final Four. 

You can imagine how well all those upsets have turned out in previous tournaments. 

I'm a bit more cautious nowadays, so I'm fading the public, and booking the Red Raiders in this position. S.F. Austin is really good on defense. But offensively, they're horrible. 

That's a major problem when you're facing a team that is better on the defensive end. The Red Raiders have a decent path to the Elite Eight, so they'll start out the 2018 tournament on the right foot with a comfortable victory in round 1. — Go Chalk with Texas Tech

Butler (-1.5) vs. Arkansas

It's not often a lower seed enters as the favorite in the first round, but that's the case in this contest. 

This is likely a situation where Butler is a little under-seeded, while the Razorbacks are a bit over-seeded. 

This should be a pretty entertaining game, since neither team plays any defense. Watch for plenty of scoring, but the Bulldogs should pull out enough stops to win a tight, fun game. — Go Chalk with Butler

Murray State (+10) vs. West Virginia

West Virginia can create fits for teams in this tournament, but I hate this draw. 

Murray State is a balanced team that isn't necessarily a high-turnover team. The Mountaineers need to play a specific game, and they'll force the action in that rugged style. 

I'm not deterred, because Murray State's Jonathan Stark won't be intimidated. He's the conference player of the year and averages more than 20 points per game. He can fill up the stat sheet with enough points to keep this within single digits. — Go Against The Chalk with Murray State

Scott Levine is the Associate Editor for the Clinton Herald. During his free time, he blogs about fantasy sports and handicaps games. His Against The Chalk blog has earned him back-to-back Iowa Newspaper Association awards for Best Blog. Check out more at Against The Chalk.

Scott Levine can be reached at or on Twitter @ScottLevineCH

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