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Beasts of the East

Posted by Eric Fisher On March 11

Villanova knows that a top seed isn’t a guarantee. Villanova was a top seed in 2015 and 2017. Both times the Wildcats were knocked out in the second round. In between those early eliminations, of course, the Wildcats won the national championship in 2016 as a No. 2 seed.

So the Wildcats won’t be taking anything for granted Thursday when they open the NCAA Tournament as the top seed in the East Region, taking on the winner of Tuesday’s game between LUI-Brooklyn and Radford. If Villanova avoids being the first top seed to lose to a No. 16 seed, it will face the winner of Thursday’s game between 8th-seeded Virginia Tech and 9th-seeded Alabama on Saturday. Villanova’s first two games will be played in Pittsburgh.

In contrast to Villanova, Penn will attempt to make history by becoming the first No. 16 seed to win an NCAA Tournament game. The Quakers’ first-round opponent Thursday in the Midwest Region will be top-seeded Kansas. To stack the deck further against the Quakers, the game will be in Wichita, Kansas.

Penn, which earned an NCAA Tournament berth be defeating Harvard, 68-65, in the Ivy League Championship Game, is making its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2007. The Quakers (24-8) featured a deep and varied roster, led by AJ Brodeur and Ryan Betley, but they will have an extremely large hurdle to overcome in the first round.

Villanova is led by guard Jalen Brunson, who has already picked up a few player of the year awards. Mikal Bridges is a force at both ends for the Wildcats, who have a terrific starting lineup and have Big East sixth man of the year Donte DiVincenzo coming off the bench. The Wildcats earned their No. 1 seed by defeating Providence in overtime in the Big East Championship Game.

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Side angle of Cody Parkey's missed field goal