The East region of the 2022 NCAA Tournament is defined by both titans of college basketball occupying the top seeds and a few mid-major sleepers waiting to take them out.
Let’s break down the favorite, a sleeper and a dark horse to come out of the East region.
Favorite: No. 2 Kentucky (+200)
No. 2 Kentucky comes into the tournament tied for the fourth-highest odds to reach the Final Four at +200. The Wildcats come head into the region coming off a successful regular season and have with them a roster that includes Wooden Award frontrunner Oscar Tshiebwe and potential NBA Draft lottery pick TyTy Washington.
The team that UK is tied with in odds is No. 1 Baylor, who is also in the East region. Even though the Bears have recorded 10 Quad 1 wins this season, the Wildcats should be equipped to take them down in a potential Elite Eight matchup.
Sleeper: Saint Mary’s (+1800)
No. 5 Saint Mary’s is coming out of the West Coast Conference as the league runner-up and has the potential to do some damage in this region. The Gaels are built to hang tough in a potentially tight environment, ranking ninth in the country in defensive adjusted efficiency.
If they can take out UCLA in a potential second-round matchup, they’ll have the confidence to go toe-to-toe with one of the top three seeds. Then again, they already have it considering that they already own a regular season victory over Gonzaga.
Dark Horse: Murray State (+4000)
Unbeknownst to most of the general public, No. 7 Murray State has been on a three-month tear, winning 20 straight games heading into the postseason. The KJ Williams-led ballclub dominated the Ohio Valley Conference this season and earned itself a seven-seed for the East region.
If they mess around and take down Kentucky in the second round, everyone should be on high alert for the Racers.
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