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Breaking down the East Region bracket heading into Sweet 16

We take a look at the East Region heading into the Sweet 16 round of the 2023 NCAA Tournament and discuss our picks for an upset, teams to fade and more.

Kentucky v Kansas State Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

The 2023 NCAA Tournament East Region semifinals take place at Madison Square Garden in New York on Thursday, March 23. Let’s take a look at the matchups, which will air on TBS.

No. 9 Florida Atlantic vs. No. 4 Tennessee, 9:00 p.m. ET Thursday

Spread: Tennessee -5.5
Total: 130.5
Moneyline: Tennessee -240, FAU +200

The FAU Owls have been something of a curiosity this tournament, taking both Memphis and FDU down to the line before pulling off a win. It will be interesting to see how they fare against this physical Tennessee team here.

The Vols beat No. 5 Duke in the second round after taking care of No. 13 Louisiana in the first round. The performance against the Blue Devils was very impressive, particularly as they are missing Zakai Zeigler, and they look poised to continue.

No. 3 Kansas State vs. No. 7 Michigan State, 6:30 p.m. ET Thursday

Spread: MSU -1.5
Total: 137.5
Moneyline: MSU -125, K-State +105

Kansas State has defied the odds. Projected to finish last in the Big XII ahead of the season, the Wildcats have reached the Sweet Sixteen. Markquis Nowell has been a star for the team this season, and grabbed 27 points and nine assists over Kentucky in the second round. This Wildcats team is scrappy and very tough to defend. They go up against a similarly talented backcourt here.

Michigan State, once a middling Big Ten team, is now the only representative left from their conference in the Sweet Sixteen. Tom Izzo’s squad is led by guard Tyson Walker, who K-State will need to find a way to limit. They defeated No. 10 USC in the first round before taking down No. 2 Marquette in the second.


Tennessee -5.5

Maybe I just can’t quite get a read on this FAU team, but I don’t think that they’ll be able to withstand 40 minutes of the Vols’ physicality and still cover. They’ve taken their two previous opponents down to the line, but I like Tennessee here after that dominant Duke victory.

Kansas State +1.5

Markquis Nowell is the answer to a lot of Wildcat fans’ prayers. While MSU has done a good job of shutting down opposing offenses and forcing them to get uncomfortable, they may meet their match in Nowell, who seems too fast to catch at times. I like K-State to keep it tight and potentially even take home the win here.