After our cheap, quick-hit, easy looks at each bracket, the gang at Storming The Floor take considerably closer looks, game-by-game. The South and Midwest Regional previews are coming tomorrow.
The East region gets the title of this year's "Region of Death." Not only does the East contain three teams that were considered for a #1 seed until early last week, but whoever plans on toppling top-seeded Carolina will need to do so in either Raleigh or Charlotte.
Yeah, not seeing Wazzou bringing enough fans to even out the Carolina crowd in Charlotte.
The region also boasts mid-major powerhouses in Butler, South Alabama, George Mason and Winthrop that can wreak havoc on the likes of Tennessee, Louisville and Billy Packer. Will Carolina cruise to San Antonio? Will Pitino change suits if the Cards are down at halftime to Boise State? Can George Mason be this year's "George Mason?" Who knows, but we'll gladly provide previews and pretend like we know what we're talking about.
1 North Carolina vs 16 Coppin State/Mount Saint Mary's (Raleigh)
Instead of the play-in game, shouldn't we just combine both Coppin State and Mount Saint Mary's and let them play with 10 guys against UNC's five? Wouldn't that be a blast? We'll support anything that keeps Fang Mitchell in the tournament.
The Pick: North Carolina
8 Indiana vs 9 Arkansas (Raleigh)
Man, the Dakich era is off to a rousing start, isn't it? Since taking over for Kelvin Sampson on February 3, the Hoosiers have lost to the likes of Minnesota and Penn State, slipping all the way to an #8 seed. Still, we like Eric Gordon to go off for at least one big tournament game before his IU career ends this weekend.
The Pick: Indiana
5 Notre Dame vs 12 George Mason (Denver)
This game looks like it has the potential to be the trendy upset pick of the year (along with Siena over Vandy). The Cinderella Patriots, playing in the traditional 12-5 upset game, get to play an Irish squad that can look very ordinary outside of South Bend. Mason also has an experienced big man in Will Thomas who can possibly shut down Gody. Yeah, we're going with the Irish too. We'll save the upset pick for Siena.
The pick: Notre Dame
4 Washington State vs 13 Winthrop (Denver)
Washington State got a very favorable #4 seed for a club that doesn't have an impressive win since beating USC on February 9. Don't get me wrong, we love the rec-team-looking Cougars as much as the next guy, but they got a huge break by the committee. This Winthrop team isn't as talented as the one that defeated ND last year, but they do have a victory over Miami (FL), which has to mean something. Look for this one to go down to the wire in a low-scoring affair.
The pick: Washington State close
6 Oklahoma vs 11 Saint Joseph's (Birmingham)
Ah yes, another upset that everyone will have penciled in. An experienced Hawk team gets a break by drawing an inexperienced and beat-up Sooner club. Hawks will pull this one out as long they remember that they play 40 minutes in college basketball, not 38.
The pick: Saint Joseph's
3 Louisville vs 14 Boise State (Birmingham)
The Cards dropped to a #3 seed after an early exit in the Big East tournament and now must face another wacky sports team from Boise State. Much like their trick-play loving football counterparts, the Broncos made the Dance by defeating New Mexico State 107-102 in triple overtime. Still, don't expect any Fiesta Bowl miracles here. The WAC was terrible this season, and Statue of Liberty plays will often result in a traveling violation in basketball.
The pick: Louisville
7 Butler vs 10 South Alabama (Birmingham)
The first of three mid-major contests features a Butler team that should feel slighted by a low seeding and a South Alabama squad that got very favorable seeding for a team that just lost at home to Middle Tennessee State. The Bulldogs may be lacking in the quality wins department, but the leadership of A.J. Graves, inside game of freshman Matt Howard and overall awesomeness of Philly product Mike Green should put Butler over Team USA.
The Pick: Butler
2 Tennessee vs 15 American (Birmingham)
I know that Tennessee probably has more athleticism between its team managers than AU, but I think that the Eagles can keep it close for a while at the very least. AU ranks sixth in nation in three point shooting and can stay in the game if they can control the tempo. Those are all very big ifs, but it would be enjoyable to see an enraged Bruce Pearl rip his shirt off.
The pick: Tennessee
Some East Region Superlatives...
Dark Horse for Final Four: Louisville
Dark Horse for Sweet 16: Butler
Best Opening Round Game: Butler-Team USA
Best Potential Game: Tennessee-Louisville
Round of 32: North Carolina over Indiana, Notre Dame over Washington State, Louisville over Saint Joseph's, Butler over Tennessee (had to pick at least one freakin' upset)
Sweet 16: North Carolina over Notre Dame, Louisville over Butler
Elite Eight: North Carolina over Louisville
Regional Champ: North Carolina