East Region Sweet Sixteen Preview

Written by: Miles Jordan

Top Stories

East Region Sweet Sixteen Preview

Previewing the Sweet Sixteen matchups in the East, the No. 1, No. 2, No. 3, and No. 5 seeds compete for the two remaining spots in the Elite Eight. Here is a look at each team and their schedules for their Thursday games.

(1) Purdue vs. (5) Gonzaga | 7:39 p.m. |TBS/truTV

(2) Tennessee vs. (3) Creighton | 10:09 p.m. |TBS/truTV

No. 1 Uconn

Uconn Men's Basketball Team

The Huskies have been dominant all season, capturing the Big East championship in a 16-point win against the now No. 2 seed in the South, the Marquette Golden Eagles. Uconn blew past the tournament's first two rounds, winning both games by a combined score of 56 points. All five starters for Uconn are averaging 10.5+ points per game this season, showing that anyone can take care of the rock and become a danger to opposing defenses. The Huskies also average 18.5 assists per game as a team, compared to 9.9 turnovers. Points off assists are massive for Uconn; each player is a threat to score and to find an open teammate for a two or three. To get past San Diego St., the Huskies must continue playing sound basketball, like they have all season, and continue their nine-game win streak.

No. 5 San Diego State

San Diego State Forward Jaedon LeDee

The No. 5 seed, San Diego St, handled the Yale Bulldogs handily, defeating the No. 13 Bulldogs 85-57 to advance to the Sweet Sixteen. However, the Aztecs must now take on the Uconn Huskies, arguably the best team in college basketball. For San Diego St. to succeed, senior forward Jaedon LeDee must continue his phenomenal season, being able to score and collect rebounds for the Aztecs. LeDee leads San Diego St. in points and rebounds per game this season, averaging 21.5 and 8.4, respectively. San Diego St. looked a bit nervous in the Round of 64, only defeating No. 12 UAB by four points, but it shook off those first-round jitters against the Yale Bulldogs. For the Aztecs to advance to the Elite Eight, they must play as confidently as they did against Yale when facing the Uconn Huskies.

No. 3 Illinois

Illinois Guard Terrence Shannon Jr.

Illinois has yet to face a team higher than a No. 11 seed, defeating No. 14 Morehead St. and No. 11 Duquesne in the Round of 64 and 32, respectively. This will be the Fighting Illini's first real challenge in this year's tournament, as they take on the Iowa St. Cyclones on Thursday, March 28. Illinois has been led by standout guard Terrence Shannon Jr., who has averaged 23.3 points per game while shooting 48.1% from the field, including scoring 30 points against Duquesne in the Round of 32. Shannon will need another phenomenal scoring performance against the Cyclones on Thursday if Illinois hopes to advance to the Elite Eight.

No. 2 Iowa St.

Iowa State Mens Basketball Team

The Cyclones do not have one standout player like the Illini do. Iowa State's leading scorer, Keyshon Gilbert, averages just 13.4 points per game. However, he is one of many players that averaged double digits. G Tamin Lipsey, F Milan Momcilovic, and G Curtis Jones average 12.5, 11.1, and 10.6 points per game, respectively. The Illini will have their hands full with a team full of complete scorers. However, the Cyclone's only flaw is their ability to shoot free throws, averaging 69.7% from the stripe all season, which could hurt them down the stretch of a close game. However, Iowa State has defeated the Big 12 champions and No. 1 seed in the South, the Houston Cougars, twice this season, which shines a slimmer of hope for them to compete with powerhouse teams like Illinois.