March Madness East Region Predictions & Picks

John Arlia
Last Updated: Mar 20, 2024

Selection Sunday has come and gone, meaning it’s time to pour over the NCAA Tournament bracket for the next few days.

To kick off my four-part March Madness preview, I’ll break down the East Region, which appears to be the toughest draw of the four this year.

Let’s take a look at the 2024 East Region betting odds, talk about some intriguing teams, and make some predictions.

March Madness East Region Odds

College basketball odds used for this East Region preview are from Monday, March 18, and courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook.

  • UConn (+115)
  • Iowa State (+380)
  • Auburn (+475)
  • Illinois (+600)
  • BYU (+1800)
  • San Diego State (+2500)
  • Northwestern (+4000)
  • Florida Atlantic (+4000)
  • Washington State (+4000)
  • Drake (+5000)
  • Duquesne (+10000)
  • Yale (+12500)
  • UAB (+20000)
  • South Dakota State (+25000)
  • Morehead State (+30000)
  • Stetson (+40000)

March Madness East Region No. 1 Seed


The defending national champions earned the No. 1 overall seed in this year’s tournament after winning the Big East regular-season and tournament titles.

Dan Hurley’s squad is loaded with both talent and experience, giving it a great chance to become the first repeat winners since Florida (2006-2007).

March Madness East Region Cinderella Team


The Bulldogs went 16-4 in the Missouri Valley Conference this season, earning the No. 2 seed in their conference tournament.

They then won three games in three days to clinch a second straight NCAA Tournament bid, toppling top-seeded Indiana State (28-6, 17-3) in the final.

Last year, Drake lost 63-56 to a Miami team that ended up reaching the Final Four. I’m not expecting a run like that out of Darian DeVries’ squad, but he and his son Tucker (21.8 ppg) could spring a surprise on Washington State in the Round of 64.

March Madness East Region Prediction

UConn to Win the East (+115)

The East Region is loaded, so I’m not sure betting UConn at this steep price is the best idea, but I’ll likely have the Huskies reaching the Final Four in the majority of brackets.

UConn enters the tournament the No. 1-ranked in adjusted offensive efficiency and is also No. 11 in adjusted defensive efficiency, per KenPom.

It’s hard to fade a team that has that level of balance on both ends of the floor and the experience of winning it all last season.

Still, I fully expect Iowa State and Auburn to give the defending champs a run for their money.

[pick id="178396"]

March Madness East Region Best Bet

BYU to Reach Sweet 16 (+170)

The Cougars reportedly earned the No. 17 overall seed in the committee’s rankings, which would have made them the top-ranked five-seed.

However, due to the school’s unwillingness to participate in athletic events on Sundays, BYU was slotted in as the East’s six-seed.

While that may seem unfavorable, the Cougars’ draw has worked out relatively well. A first-round matchup against Atlantic 10 champion Duquesne, who had to win five games in five days to make the NCAA tournament, isn’t overly worrying.

A potential second-round date with Big Ten champion Illinois will be tougher, but the Cougars are battle-tested from Big-12 play and should hold their own with the Fighting Illini.

[pick id="178392"]

March Madness East Region Locations & Schedule

Round 1

Thursday, March 21

CHI Health Center Omaha, Omaha, NE

No. 6 BYU vs No. 11 Duquesne, 12:40 p.m., truTV

No. 3 Illinois vs No. 14 Morehead State, 3:10 p.m., truTV

No. 2 Iowa State vs No. 15 South Dakota State, 7:35 p.m., truTV

No. 7 Washington State vs No. 10 Drake, 10:05 p.m., truTV

Friday, March 22

Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NY

No. 8 Florida Atlantic vs No. 9 Northwestern, 12:15 p.m., CBS

No. 1 UConn vs No. 16 Stetson, 2:45 p.m., CBS

Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena, Spokane, WA

No. 5 San Diego State vs No. 12 UAB, 1:45 p.m., TNT

No. 4 Auburn vs No. 13 Yale, 4:15 p.m., TNT

Round 2

Saturday, March 23

CHI Health Center Omaha, Omaha, NE

Illinois/Morehead State vs BYU/Duquesne, Time & TV TBA

Iowa State/South Dakota State vs Washington State/Drake, Time & TV TBA

Sunday, March 24

Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NY

UConn/Stetson vs Florida Atlantic/Northwestern, Time & TV TBA

Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena, Spokane, WA

Auburn/Yale vs San Diego State/UAB, Time & TV TBA

Sweet 16

Thursday, March 28

TD Garden, Boston, MA

Regional Semifinal No. 1, Time & TV TBA

Regional Semifinal No. 2, Time & TV TBA

Elite 8

Saturday, March 30

TD Garden, Boston, MA

Regional Final Time & TV TBA


John Arlia

Before joining The Game Day, John served as the National Writer for the United Soccer League, where he primarily covered the USL Championship out of the league’s headquarters in Tampa, FL. A devout soccer fan, John attended the men’s World Cups in Brazil and Russia and can’t wait for the 2026 edition to come to North America. Having also written for Sporting News Canada since getting his master’s from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at ASU, John has acquired a diverse sporting background, but considers football, golf, and soccer his three strong suits.

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