Most intriguing possible later round matchup: I assume this means second weekend games, and while I think K-State/ Wisconsin could be very interesting, I guess I will go with Pitt versus K-State in the theoretical future Sweet Sixteen. These teams had the possibility of meeting in the Sweet Sixteen last year, but Xavier put a stop to that and set up an epic double-overtime game called by none other than Gus Johnson. Maybe if the two meet up this time, we'll get the exciting game that could have been.
Best potential storyline: Another plethora of choices, so I'll go with a few (I'm such a wuss with this "no clear cut answer" thing, right?)
1. K-State gets to the Elite Eight/ Final Four to officially overcome mid-season slump: Technically they overcame the mid-season slump at the end of the regular season, but getting to the Elite Eight or Final Four would really be a nice feather for Frank Martin's good looking (and incredibly psychotic) hat. After losing to Oklahoma State and Colorado to start Big 12 play, people were already calling for Martin to be fired. Since then, he has rallied the troops (not without letting some of the troops go, though, in Freddy Asprilla and Wally Judge), beaten some good-to-great teams, and got the Wildcats to a slightly over-the-top 5-seed. KSU has a chance to actually make they're pre-season #2 ranking valid.
2. BYU gets to the Elite Eight/ Final Four despite the loss of Brandon Davies: I give huge props to BYU for upholding their honor code in a tough spot with Davies, a Provo native who was more than likely devastated by his dismissal from the basketball team, but it did no favors for the Cougars. They went on to lose their next game to New Mexico at home, and then lose in the MWC Tournament Championship Game against San Diego State. They are now are being looked at as a team that shouldn't get past the second round or Sweet Sixteen. It'll take some big (and consistent) performances from the non-Jimmers, but BYU still has the cogs and bracket parity needed to make a deep run. Oh yeah, and they still have Jimmer Fredette. Don't count out the Cougars.
Honorable mention: Michigan State makes it to the Final Four again, but I honestly would rather not see that happen.
Most likely to win region: Pittsburgh. The Panthers will have to get over their 'Jamie Dixon can't win the big one' bugaboos, but this is the team in the Southeast with all of the cogs necessary in a possible National Championship run. It'll be tough, but they should (and do) have the best chance to get there.
Team in the region that got a raw deal: Florida. They're so vastly over-seeded in my eyes that I could see them suffering a horrid loss to UCSB. And if they get past that hurdle, they then possibly get Michigan State and their magic touch in the tourney. Again, this is all assuring that Florida wins it all, so you Gator fans can thank me later!
Ok, ok, my real team to get a raw deal is Utah State. They have to be fuming with that 12-seed after they ended up as #17 in the final national polls (which would assume a 4-6 seed normally). The committee clearly cared about RPI Top 50 wins, and Utah State just did not have the resume necessary for a 6-seed or higher. That said, a 12-seed for the so-called #17 team in the country is pretty ridiculous.
Best team mascot: The UC-Santa Barbara Guachos. Because Guachos is a fun word to say, dammit!
Feel-good story of region: St. John's, for rallying around Steve Lavin and getting back to the tourney with style. The DJ Kennedy injury might call for a first-round exit, but with the way this team's year has gone I wouldn't be that surprised if they ended up in the Elite Eight.
Intriguing personality of region: Frank Martin, duh.
Best Beard in the region: Jacob Pullen, duh.
Best name in the region: Utah State guard Pooh Williams. Sources tell me that he loves himself some honey.
My bracket picks (or at least this is one of my brackets):
Pitt over their 16 seed
Butler over Old Dominion
K-State over Utah State
Wisconsin over Belmont
Gonzaga over St. John's
BYU over Wofford
Michigan State over UCLA
Florida over UCSB
Pitt over Butler
K-State over Wisconsin
BYU over Gonzaga
Michigan State over Florida
Pitt over K-State
BYU over Michigan State
Pitt over BYU
So there you have it. I feel that my picks are too chalky, but I'm known to get killed by playing it safe. I also said that Wisconsin had the best chance to get farther and then had MSU in the Elite Eight, but you know what they say: Do as I say, not as I do. Anyways, be sure to pay super close attention to the Southeast Region. It's gonna be insanity.