The Madness is back!! It’s time once again to immerse oneself in caring about a whole host of basketball teams that we’ve never heard of or atleast pay little attention to, all so that in a few weeks the best teams that everyone loves or hates will rise to the top anyway. It’s time to match wits with talking heads, i.e. experts like Dickie V., Doug “Credit Card” Gottlieb, Clark Kellogg, & Seth Davis. It’s time to face the bracket challenge, whether there is money & prizes at stake, or just plain ol’ macho pride.
Before I dive in allow me to share a bit about my methods and some things I have learned over many years of doing this.
I do not analyze, study, and stress out about my brackets. I simply fill them out on the fly. My picks are based on what I know as an average fan and on my vibes. My choices have no basis in scientific investigation of any facts or figures.
Will there be upsets?? Yes. But don’t go crazy. The first round has 32 games. Out of those there might be a half dozen upsets. The 5/12, 6/11, & 7/10 games are where to look for upsets. #1 seeds never…ever…lose in the first round, and #2 seeds very rarely lose. Atleast one #12 beats a #5 each year…I don’t know why. 8/9 games are pretty much dead even, so a #9 beating a #8 is only an upset in the most technical roundabout way. After the first round it’s a free for all, although that 11, 12, 13, or 14 that got thru one game is unlikely to make it much further.
I am usually a sucker for the underdog, but in all honesty power conference teams have an undeniable advantage. I put major weight on being battle tested. Strength of schedule is an important factor. The games a team played in November & December…whether they were wins or losses…can serve as great “conditioning” in March.
I take into consideration where the games are taking place. If a team is playing close to home and has a bunch of fans in the stands that is important. But it’s not that important, so I consider it yet don’t obsess over it.
So, having said all that, here is what my vibes are communicating to me about 2012’s Big Dance:
1 Syracuse 16 UNC Asheville
2 Ohio St. 15 Loyola (MD)
3 Florida St. 14 St. Bonaventure
4 Wisconsin 13 Montana
5 Vanderbilt 12 Harvard
6 Cincinnati 11 Texas
7 Gonzaga 10 West Virginia
8 Kansas St 9 Southern Miss.
Lots of talking heads seem to be bailing on ‘Cuse, believing that they’ll fall short of The Final Four. Not this humble Potentate of Profundity. My vibes are telling me that one of the annual 5/12 upsets will occur when Harvard…alma mater of NY Knicks sensation Jeremy Lin…defeats Vanderbilt. Actually I think it’d be more fun to see those two teams match up in a Quiz Bowl or in the Jeopardy college tournament, but I guess we’ll take what we can get. I also have Harvard beating Wisconsin in the 2nd round. The only other first round upset I foresee in this region is my Mountaineers over Gonzaga. WVU gets a virtual home game less than 100 miles away in Pittsburgh, and I just don’t think the Zags are quite as good as in years past. I like Cincy over Florida St. in Round 2, as well as the ‘Eers getting by Ohio St. But ultimately Syracuse will make it to not only The Final Four but also the title game.
1 Michigan St. 16 LIU Brooklyn
2 Missouri 15 Norfolk St.
3 Marquette 14 BYU*
4 Louisville 13 Davidson
5 New Mexico 12 Long Beach St.
6 Murray St. 11 Colorado St.
7 Florida 10 Virginia
8 Memphis 9 St. Louis
I’m just not sold on Michigan St. as a top seed. I give them credit…they always always always seem to be in the conversation each & every year…but I’m not buying it this season. I’m pretty much going chalk in the first round, with the lone exception being St. Louis over Memphis. Typically I wouldn’t consider a 9 over an 8 all that much of an upset, but several “experts” have been saying that Memphis is seeded way too low and is a legit potential Final Four team, so I guess it’d be more of a surprise than usual. By the way, a billiken is a charm doll created by an art teacher from St. Louis in 1908 who saw the mysterious figure…an elf-like creature with pointed ears, a mischievous smile, and a tuft of hair on his pointed head…in a dream. Fascinating. At any rate, it’s chalk all the way after that until the regional semifinal where I have Louisville taking out the Spartans, with Missouri then getting the Final Four spot.
1 Kentucky 16 Miss. Valley St.*
2 Duke 15 Lehigh
3 Baylor 14 South Dakota St.
4 Indiana 13 New Mexico St.
5 Wichita St. 12 Va. Commonwealth
6 UNLV 11 Colorado
7 Notre Dame 10 Xavier
8 Iowa St. 9 Connecticut
I have two first round upsets here. I just think that defending champions UConn won’t bow out so easily, and surely not to an 8th seed like Iowa St. And I have another 5/12 special, with 2011 tournament Cinderella VCU recapturing that magic one last time and beating Wichita St., who is only the third best basketball team in their own state. The second round in this region should be awesome, although I am only picking one upset. I think Notre Dame will defeat Duke and then beat Baylor, making it all the way to the regional final before going down to Kentucky.
1 North Carolina 16 Vermont*
2 Kansas 15 Detroit
3 Georgetown 14 Belmont
4 Michigan 13 Ohio U.
5 Temple 12 South Florida*
6 San Diego St. 11 NC St.
7 St. Mary’s 10 Purdue
8 Creighton 9 Alabama
The voices are speaking to me about two upsets here. First, I am picking NC St., a battle tested ACC team, to beat San Diego St., who is probably seeded a couple of spots too high. The same logic applies in choosing Purdue from the Big 10 over St. Mary’s. I’m also picking the Wolfpack over Georgetown in the 2nd round. In the regional semis I’m taking Michigan to upset North Carolina, with Kansas ultimately securing the last Final Four spot.
So my Final Four is Kentucky vs. Missouri and Syracuse vs. Kansas. I’m not exactly venturing out on a limb with those choices. I was kind of surprised to be honest, because this has seemed like kind of a wide open season with lots of parity. However, at the end of the day I just think there are about a half dozen teams that, while probably not elite in the “we’ll remember them 20 years from now” sense, are just that much better than anyone else. So while all fans can enjoy the first & second rounds and there will undoubtedly be several exciting games & some upsets, ultimately few will likely be surprised at who is in the race near the finish line. I’m picking Kentucky & Syracuse to meet in the final game, with the Wildcats cutting down the nets and being crowned national champions.
- A Guided Tour of the 2012 NCAA Bracket (blogs.wsj.com)
- March Madness Underdogs to Root For (newser.com)
- NCAA Bracket Chat: The Best Match-Ups, Fun Storylines & Potential Upsets (bleacherreport.com)
- Chris’ Bracket (thecollegecourt.wordpress.com)
- NCAA Tournament Bracket Guide: 32 March Madness Bracket Tips (bleacherreport.com)
- March Madness 2012: 4 Mistakes You Must Avoid When Making Your Bracket (bleacherreport.com)
- Who Has It The Easiest? (welcometothe716.com)
- March Madness 2012: Mistakes to Avoid When Filling Out Your Bracket (bleacherreport.com)
- NCAA Tournament 2012: Sweet and Sour Teams Heading into March Madness (bleacherreport.com)
- NCAA Tournament 2012: Printable Brackets and March Madness Schedule (blippitt.com)