Ok, so it's cheating a little bit, but I already wrote an East preview for the main SBN site. I am too proud not to add in and shift some things around, but if you already read my preview on the mothership site, you might hear me repeating myself a bit. That's the way of the world. As far as the East Region is concerned, there is a lot to like about the pairings and teams. We have some big-time mid-majors (Temple, Cornell, New Mexico, Wofford), a bevy of BCS Conference teams (Texas, Marquette, Washington, Wake Forest, Wisconsin, Clemson, Missouri) and two hot picks to win it all (Kentucky and West Virginia). Needless to say, it will be an action-packed bracket.
In the first round alone, there's a ton of games that are ones I'll have starred on my schedule. Temple faces Cornell in arguably the best first round game of the tournament. The Big Red are a Cinderella darling, but they aren't exactly David facing Goliath--more David facing, well, a slightly older and wiser David. Temple is an incredibly gifted and solid team. They are looking to win their 30th game on the year, and actually might be seeded a bit too low.
Clemson and Missouri is one that will leave even the people watching exhausted. You get Oliver Purnell's pressing Tigers against the 40 MInutes of Hell Missouri Tigers. The committee definitely had fun with this one. Another game the committee must have chuckled when they drew it up is the Texas-Wake Forest game. Texas is a lot like last year's Wake Forest team (a free-fall after climbing to #1 in the country) and even more like this year's Wake Forest team. Both teams need a win to help their fan base's psyche and the pair are just hoping to reclaim some magic in the Dance.
Aside from that, the Montana-New Mexico game has some promise, Wofford could give Wisconsin fits if the Badgers don't watch out and Marquette-Washington is your patented "solid ball clubs that ended the season hot" 6-11 matchup.
Who do I like out of this region? Well, I would love to call a big, huge, bracketbusting upset, but honestly, I think this region will play out relatively smoothly. Temple is a Sweet Sixteen team to me, New Mexico should have enough to make it to the next weekend and West Virginia and Kentucky are way too good not to survive and advance.
When the dust settles, I like UK and WVU based on talent level and coaching and it's really a coinflip as to who will move on to Indy. WVU needs to slow UK down and they need to hit shots. The biggest question of the tournament (arguably) is whether or not Kentucky's freshmen will have enough poise to make a deep tournament run. Bob Huggins has a track record of choking in the tournament, but I think he has the personnel this year to make it to the Final Four. Led by Da'Sean Butler, I'm going with the Mountaineers.