With the NCAA tournament's second weekend set to begin on Thursday, The Dagger takes a look at the remaining fields in each of the four regions.
Thanks to top-seeded Pitt bowing out early, the Southeast bracket for the Sweet 16 might be the most wide open of the four. With the exception of Florida, not sure many expected this collection of teams to be fighting it out for the right to play in Houston, but that's what makes this particular bracket so exciting. Three of these four teams have defied the odds (c'mon, admit it, you thought Wisconsin would lose to Belmont) to get to this regional quarterfinal and it's hard to say which one will come away victorious since all of these teams are very closely matched.
How they got there
No. 2 Florida: Def. No. 15 UC Santa Barbara and No. 7 UCLA
No. 3 BYU: Def. No. 14 Wofford and No. 11 Gonzaga
No. 4 Wisconsin: Def No. 13 Belmont and No. 5 Kansas State
No. 8 Butler: Def. No. 9 Old Dominion and No. 1 Pitt
What you should like about the favorite: Of the teams in the Southeast region, Florida has the most offensive weapons. SEC Player of the Year Chandler Parsons is the team's best player, but guard Erving Walker, who is seemingly not afraid to take a shot from anywhere in any situation with anyone trying to guard him, has been the team's star throughout the tournament. Walker is averaging 19.5 points per game and is shooting 63 percent from 3-point range. However, the Gators did have a little trouble with UCLA in its third-round game, which could give some other teams confidence, especially teams with good perimeter defense.
Underdog to watch -- Butler: If you can't appreciate what Butler has done in the NCAA tournament the past two seasons, you can't call yourself a basketball fan. Butler continues to hang around with its last-second heroics. Matt Howard has become the man in the right place at the right time with two game-winning buckets. Can the magic continue, though? Butler has something going for it that none of the other teams in this region have. No, it's not luck, the Bulldogs have toppled a No. 1 seed, a team that was ranked in the top 5 most of the season. They didn't get the benefit of playing a double-digit seed warmup game to open the tournament. The Bulldogs were thrown into the fire right away and have persevered. While things do get tougher, this team has the experience to come out of this bracket the winner.
Best game -- Florida vs. BYU: This game isn't the best game because of the team matchup, but rather the matchup between BYU's Jimmer Fredette and Florida's Walker. Both have no problem pulling up from anywhere on the court and shooting or driving into the paint for the and-one. Fredette leads the tournament with 33 points per game and so far this season no one has figured out a way to stop or really even contain him. The problem for BYU will be the rest of the team. We know Fredette is going to be great, but he's not going to be able to carry the Cougars the way he has in some games in the past. Florida has a complete team that can hurt you with its fourth and fifth options. BYU has guys who can play and who can score, but they don't always show up. That will be the difference between whether this is a good game or Fredette's swan song.
Best lesser-known player to watch -- Noah Hartsock, BYU: Hartsock can be dangerous because he is an inside-out player that can bump and rebound inside as well as shoot the 3-pointer. He's made 5-of-6 3-point attempts during the tournament and is averaging four rebounds as part of a gang rebounding effort BYU has initiated since leading rebounder Brandon Davies was suspended for an honor code violation. Hartsock isn't going to wow you, but he's a key third offensive option for a BYU offense that needs as many options as it can get.