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Chris Dufresne’s NCAA East Regional picks

Here’s how the Times’ college basketball writer sees the East Regional playing out.

March 14, 2010

East Regional

First round: Kentucky def. East Tennessee State; Wake Forest def. Texas; Cornell def. Temple; Wisconsin def. Wofford; Washington def. Marquette; New Mexico def. Montana; Missouri def. Clemson; West Virginia def. Morgan State.

Second round: Kentucky def. Wake Forest; Wisconsin def. Cornell; Washington def. New Mexico; West Virginia def. Missouri.

Semifinals: Kentucky def. Wisconsin; West Virginia def. Washington.

Final: Kentucky over West Virginia.

How it plays out: Look for Kentucky to kick blue grass all the way to Indianapolis, the star freshman guard to be questioned for a test he took in high school and the coach to high-tail it out of town one step ahead of the infractions committee. Wait, that could never happen to a Final Four team coached by John Calipari — at least not twice in three years. Say what you want about Calipari — the man can recruit and rekindles excitement. This bracket has some upset potential, starting with a minor one with Wake Forest over Texas, a team that spent time at No. 1 this season before falling off Earth's edge. This is also a prove-it bracket for the Pac-10 as Washington shows a tiny portion of the world it belongs in the tournament with shocking wins over No. 6 Marquette and No. 3 New Mexico before a not-so-shocking loss to West Virginia in the regional semifinals. We fell in love with Cornell (The Big Red) a couple of years ago when they lost the "brain bowl" against Stanford at the subregional in Anaheim. Just because Cornell was the first team in the tournament doesn't mean it will be one of the first teams out. In the end, think Kentucky. Freshman guard John Wall plays like he has jets in his sneakers and is the first- or second-best player in the country, depending on your opinion of Ohio State's Evan Turner. Kentucky's problem, if you can call it one, is starting three freshmen in a tournament where maturity usually counts. Michigan, remember, couldn't even get it done with the Fab Five.

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