Duke Blue Devils center Kyle Filipowski (30) reacts after dunking the ball against the Virginia Cavaliers during the second half of the ACC Championship at Greensboro Coliseum.
Duke Blue Devils center Kyle Filipowski (30) reacts after dunking the ball against the Virginia Cavaliers during the second half of the ACC Championship at Greensboro Coliseum.

2023 East Region Bracket Betting Guide: Odds, Picks and Predictions

The East region might fly a bit under the radar heading to this year’s NCAA Tournament, which could lead to some betting value for those able to take advantage.

Purdue is the No. 1 seed in the region and the favorite to cut down the nets in New York, but the Boilermakers were the final 1-seed for a reason. Marquette, the No. 2 seed, is fresh off winning the Big East tournament and regular-season crown after being picked to finish ninth in the conference. Kansas State, the No. 3 seed, also exceeded expectations after being picked to finish last in the Big 12.

In addition, powerhouse programs like Tennessee (No. 4 seed), Duke (No. 5 seed), and Kentucky (No. 6 seed) are lurking and capable of making a Final Four run. So who is going to win this wide-open region and earn a trip to Houston?

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Favorite: Purdue

Led by the National Player of the Year in Zach Edey, Purdue won the Big Ten tournament title and has won five games in a row entering the Big Dance. Edey, who is 7-foot-4, averaged 22.1 points and 12.8 rebounds per game en route to running away with NPOY.

The concern with the Boilermakers is their young backcourt, which is susceptible to pressure defense. Purdue also ranks just 255th in 3-point percentage (32.6%), making it more difficult to win four games in two weeks. 

If Edey gets into early foul trouble, the Boilermakers could be on upset alert.

Dark horse: Kentucky

The Wildcats are looking to put the Saint Peter’s loss behind them, and this year’s draw gives them a good chance to do just that. Kentucky faces a reeling Providence squad in the opening round, as Ed Cooley’s bunch has lost three in a row. Then, a potential Round of 32 matchup with a Kansas State squad that struggles away from home awaits UK.

Edey might be this year’s NPOY, but Kentucky big man Oscar Tshiebwe won the award last season. Tshiebwe does struggle defending in space in the pick-and-roll, but he is averaging 16.5 points and 13.1 rebounds per contest. 

With a talented roster in a wide-open region, Kentucky certainly has a chance to be in the mix during the second weekend.

First-round upset: Oral Roberts (+6.5) vs. Duke

The Golden Eagles made it to the Sweet 16 two years ago as a No. 15 seed, but this year’s team is even better. After sweeping Summit League play, Oral Roberts is riding the nation’s longest active win streak at 17 games. 

Max Abmas remains a bucket, averaging 22.2 points per game. At 7-foot-5, Connor Vanover has the stature to hang with Duke’s loaded frontcourt. This isn’t your average mid-major, and the Golden Eagles will be ready for this fight.

Pick to win East: Marquette

This region is a mess, which probably means it is the most important to nail in your bracket pool. I’ll side with Shaka Smart’s Golden Eagles, who have flown under the radar all year during a 28-6 campaign.

Tyler Kolek might be the best point guard in the country, and will be must-see television whenever he takes the court. But everybody has seemingly bought in at Marquette, which has won nine games in a row and needs four more victories to get to Houston.

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