A quick, first-blush look at the Southeast Region bracket.
MOST OVERSEEDED: There are a few head-scratchers in this region. Kansas State is a No. 5? K-State finished in a tie for third in the regular season in the Big 12, with Texas A&M. K-State has three top-50 wins, which is two fewer than A&M. A&M beat K-State head-to-head. A&M went further in the Big 12 tourney. And K-State was 0-3 against Colorado, which didn't make the field. Yet K-State is seeded two spots better than A&M and six spots better than Missouri, which split with K-State and had one more top-50 win. K-State should've been a No. 6 or 7. Butler is too high as a No. 8. The Bulldogs had five losses in the Horizon League, which is 11th in RPI, and three top-50 wins. They should've been a 10. Florida probably was a spot too high as a No. 2, considering they lost twice to Kentucky, which is a No. 4. The Gators have home losses to Jacksonville and South Carolina and lost on a neutral court to UCF. And Michigan State as an 11 – instead of a 10 – would be fine, too. Indeed, the Big Ten "bubble teams" all were seeded a spot or two better than they should've been.
THE FIRST-ROUND GAMES
Thursday in Washington
No. 1 Pittsburgh vs. No. 16 Ark.-Little Rock/UNC Asheville*
No. 8 Butler vs. No. 9 Old Dominion
Thursday in Tampa, Fla.
No. 2 Florida vs. No. 15 UC Santa Barbara
No. 7 UCLA vs. No. 10 Michigan State
Thursday in Denver
No. 3 BYU vs. No. 14 Wofford
No. 6 St. John's vs. No. 11 Gonzaga
Thursday in Tucson, Ariz.
No. 4 Wisconsin vs. No. 13 Belmont
No. 5 Kansas State vs. No. 12 Utah State
NOTE: *– play-in game is Tuesday in Dayton, Ohio
MOST UNDERSEEDED: ODU coach Blaine Taylor should be ticked off. ODU won the CAA tourney and has six top-50 wins (including a neutral-court victory over Xavier, which is a No. 6), and the Monarchs are a 9? They should've been a 7. Utah State has a gaudy record (30-3) and are 15th in the RPI. Granted, the Aggies played a miserable schedule. But a No. 12 seed is harsh. A 9 or 10 seemed more in line given what they had done. And if you compare what Gonzaga did to what Butler did, you have to wonder why the Zags are three spots lower. Gonzaga has three top-50 wins (the same as Butler), one fewer top-100 win (six, to seven) and was 10-6 away from home (to Butler's 11-7). The Horizon is one spot ahead of Gonzaga's West Coast Conference in the conference RPI. All that equates to a three-seed difference? Gonzaga should've been a 10, just as Butler should've been a 10.
BEST PLAYER: BYU G Jimmer Fredette is the nation's leading scorer and he truly is a gifted offensive player. He has legitimate range to 25 feet and an unbelievably quick release. If you crowd him at the arc, he's quick and strong enough to get to the rim and finish. He also has a solid mid-range game. He doesn't have much help, though.
5 OTHERS TO WATCH: St. John's G Dwight Hardy, Pitt G Ashton Gibbs, Michigan State G Kalin Lucas, Kansas State G Jacob Pullen, Wisconsin G Jordan Taylor
BEST PLAYER YOU'VE NEVER HEARD OF: ODU F Frank Hassell is a big, physical guy who was a first-team All-CAA selection. He's a lefthander who makes his living in the lane. He knows how to carve out space, is a big-time rebounder on both ends and an effective defender. For a physical guy, he does a great job avoiding fouls.
5 OTHERS TO WATCH: ODU G/F Kent Bazemore, Belmont G Ian Clark, Wofford F Noah Dahlman, UCSB G Orlando Johnson, Utah State F Tai Wesley.
NUMBERS GAME: There are 10 conference champs in the region, the most of any region; two of them – Arkansas-Little Rock and UNC Asheville – are involved in a play-in game. There are seven Big Six schools in the region, the fewest of any region, plus one from the Colonial, one from the Mountain West and Gonzaga.
BEST FIRST-ROUND MATCHUP: Every 8-9 matchup is a good one, but this might be the best – Butler, last season's NCAA darling, against rough-and-tough Old Dominion. ODU can't really shoot, but the Monarchs pound opponents on the boards. Can the Bulldogs handle them? The 4-13 and 5-12 matchups also are noteworthy. Wisconsin played abysmal basketball in its past two games and gets a white-hot Belmont team. Belmont is a lot like Wisconsin in that the Bruins are cerebral and don't make mistakes. While Wisconsin has more size, Belmont shoots it better. Plus, it's a phenomenal coaching matchup. Everyone knows about Wisconsin's Bo Ryan; perhaps this will be the coming-out party for Belmont veteran Rick Byrd. As for the 5-12 matchup, we already have mentioned that one is overseeded and one is underseeded. Utah State is well-coached by Stew Morrill, can hit the 3-pointer and takes extremely good care of the ball. Utah State G Brockeith Pane is a physical defender, but he will have his hands full with K-State G Jacob Pullen. Overall, though, K-State has a big advantage in athleticism.