The Southeast region may be the easiest path for any of the number one seeds to reach the Final Four. Looking at the bracket, it seems quite difficult to find a team that is likely to take down top-seeded Pittsburgh Panthers, but you never know. After all, that's why they call it March Madness. Apart from Pittsburgh, there are not any sure bets in this region at all. While the Southeast region may be the weakest region, it may also be the most exciting, with plenty of teams capable of pulling off the big upset.
Regardless of the outcome, the entertainment value for this quarter of the bracket is off the charts. It boasts possible Cinderellas in the #13 Belmont Bruins and #12 Utah State Aggies. Two perennial powerhouses in the #10 Michigan St. Spartans and #7 UCLA Bruins will face off in the second round instead of the Final Four this year. Oh yeah, and the nation's leading scorer, Jimmer Fredette of the BYU Cougars, is here too. Let's take a look at the match-ups and take our best guesses at predicting the results.
March 15 6:30 PM EST
UNC-Asheville Bulldogs (19-13) vs. Ark.-Little Rock Trojans (19-16)
Prediction: Arkansas-Little Rock
Does anyone really have any information about these teams? While admittedly, not very confident with this pick, Trojans just sound more fierce than Bulldogs, in my opinion. Ultimately, this game hardly matters as the winner earns the right to get destroyed by Pittsburgh.
Round Two Games
(1) Pittsburgh Panthers (27-5) vs. (16) Winner of Play-In Game
March 17 3:10 PM ET
Nothing to see here, carry on. #1 seed beats #16...again.
(8) Butler Bulldogs (23-9) vs. (9) Old Dominion Monarchs (27-6)
March 17 12:40 PM ET
Prediction: Old Dominion
These 8 vs. 9 games are never easy to pick. Both teams have Cinderella potential, and no one knows how to work the underdog role better than last year's runner-up, Butler. However, it feels like Butler is living off of last year's magic, except Gordon Hayward is gone. Expect a hard fought game, with Old Dominion emerging.
(5) Kansas St. Wildcats (22-10) vs. (12) Utah St. Aggies (30-3)
March 17 9:57 PM ET
Prediction: Kansas State
The Aggies have had an amazing season and have hardly lost at all. Kansas State has been relatively underwhelming so far. Regardless, this one boils down to experience and star power. The Wildcats have both in Jacob Pullen. I've got the Wildcats moving on.
(4) Wisconsin Badgers (23-8) vs. (13) Belmont Bruins (30-4)
March 17 7:27 PM ET
Prediction: Belmont **UPSET SPECIAL**
You'll be sure to hear plenty about the Bruins as a trendy upset pick. If you look close enough, you'll see me driving the bandwagon. After Wisconsin's destruction by the Ohio St. Buckeyes in the season finale and the absolutely pathetic 33-point outing against Penn St. Nittany Lions, I've got the Badgers as one of the high seeds being toppled early on.
(6) St. John's Red Storm (21-11) vs. (11) Gonzaga Bulldogs (24-9)
March 17 9:45 PM ET
Prediction: Gonzaga **UPSET SPECIAL**
St. John's has no doubt been impressive in the country's toughest conference. However, the D.J. Kennedy injury hurts more than people may think. With very little time to learn how to play without one of their key players, a red-hot Gonzaga team has the perfect opportunity to pull the upset.
(3) BYU Cougars (30-4) vs. (14) Wofford Terriers (21-12)
March 17 7:15 PM ET
I'm resisting the urge to pencil in yet another upset here. Without Brandon Davies, the Cougars are simply not the dominating team that they once were. However, the freakish scoring ability of Jimmer Fredette should be enough to power BYU past the Terriers.
(7) UCLA Bruins (22-10) vs. (10) Michigan State Spartans (19-14)
March 17 9:20 PM ET
Prediction: Michigan State
One would generally expect these two programs to be playing in the Final Four, however they meet in the second round of games this year. To say the Spartans have been a disappointment this year would be an understatement, but Tom Izzo gets the benefit of the doubt here. Some people are crazy and still believe that the Spartans could get hot and put a run together in this tournament. I happen to be one of those guys. Call me insane, but this is my bracket, not yours. Print and fill out your own here.
(2) Florida Gators (26-7) vs. (15) UC Santa Barbara Gauchos
March 17 6:50 PM ET
I'm tempted to pick the Gauchos, because it's a unique/awesome nickname. However, Florida is simply way better than them. Florida rolls into the next round.
That's all for the play-in and second round games in the Southeast region. Be sure to check back for the preview of the rest of the regions and for later round predictions.