Let's take a closer look at the East Region, which is led by the physical Pitt Panthers and surging Duke Blue Devils.
Most Intriguing Game: Tennessee vs. Oklahoma State - The Cowboys have been playing great basketball over the last month of the season. Oklahoma State is one of the more exciting teams in the nation to watch due to its up tempo pace and reliance on the three-point shot. On the other hand, Tennessee has played the role of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. On some nights the Vols look like world beaters and other nights they can't get out of their own way. If the good Tennessee shows up for it should be one heck of an entertaining game to watch. Both of these teams average around 80 points per game and the matchup between versatile big men Wayne Chism and Byron Eaton will be a good one. The winner of this game could pose a serious threat to Pitt in Round 2.
Potential Blowout: Florida State over Wisconsin - The Badgers play the type of slow down style that can be a thorn in their opponent's side come tournament time. But the problem here is FSU doesn't mind getting down and dirty either. Florida State is a defensive minded bunch as well, allowing teams to shoot just 38.6 against them this season. I think the Seminoles are one of the toughest teams to match up with in this tournament. They have a bevy of athletes who are big and long. That allows them to cover a lot of ground on the defensive end. And Toney Douglas is primed to explode on the big stage. The public is backing FSU big but in all reality, they probably should be.
Possible Upset: VCU over UCLA - In the alphabet soup game, the underdog has a legitimate shot to pull an outright upset. VCU is a tough, defensive minded basketball team led by quick point guard Eric Maynor. The Rams are also a good rebounding team and allow opponents to shoot just 39 percent against them. UCLA is surprisingly weak on the defensive end of the floor this year allowing teams to hit 45 percent against them. The Bruins do lead the country in field goal percentage and have started running more over the last month. The battle between guards Maynor and Darren Collison will be worth the price of admission. VCU has a real chance here but the only bad thing is this seems to be the "in vogue" upset pick and those rarely pan out.
Overrated: Duke - The Blue Devils are very well coached and possess three good players in Gerald Henderson, Kyle Singler and Jon Scheyer. The problem I see with Duke is they lack the depth to make a serious championship run. If two of the Blue Devils big three players are off, they have problems scoring. And very few teams in the country rely on the three-point shot as much as the Blue Devils. If they have a bad night, Duke is very vulnerable due to their lack of a strong inside presence. If Duke has to play Texas in the second round, it could be another early tournament exit for the Blue Devils.
Sleeper: Texas - The Longhorns were terribly inconsistent this year but they still have a lot of talent. Those kinds of teams can be dangerous in a tournament format because they get a second life after a disappointing regular season. If you look at the Longhorns bracket, it sets up for a possible run to the Elite 8 if they play up to their potential. Texas has been better offensively since Dogus Balbay took over at point guard but they still suffer from scoring droughts and mental lapses on defense. The Horns have a favorable first round match-up with Minnesota and they can certainly play with Duke, Villanova and UCLA if they are on top of their game.
Possible Cinderella: Portland State - The Vikings are a very dangerous No. 13 seed. Portland State has the one major ingredient needed to pull off a big upset: Good guard play. Jeremiah Dominguez and Andre Murray can both play and will present a big challenge for Xavier. The Vikings also shoot the ball well. They shot 45 percent from the field and 38 percent from long range this year. Portland State gave Washington and Baylor all they could handle on the road earlier this year, so Xavier will need to bring its A game against the Vikings.
Fright Night's East Region Winner: Florida State - This is a tough region for me to pick. I really like Pitt, Florida State and Villanova. But like I said I think the Seminoles are a very dangerous team. I'm going with Douglas to have a huge tournament and for the Seminoles to come out of what I think is a very tough region.
Texas is one of those teams Virginia that can make a serious run or get blown out in the first round. They are a tough team to predict. Upon further review of this region, I'm liking Villanova more and more. Good luck.
I think Scheyer has the will to carry Duke past Texas, but maybe not past Villanova? I'm thinking it will be Pitt v. Nova, but a Duke FSU game isn't out of the question.
I haven't seen any VCU or UCLA games this year, so it's hard for me to get a feel for that game. I do like Eddie Maynor, though, and wasn't Davidson a favored upset team last year?
I did pick Texas over Minn, but Tubby Smith does know his way around the Tournament so that's not one of my solid picks...