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A Quick Look at the 2012 March Madness Title Contenders

Ryan ReschContributor IIIJune 26, 2016

A Quick Look at the 2012 March Madness Title Contenders

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    It is almost everybody’s favorite time of year—March Madness is right around the corner.

    With the regular season coming to a close within the next couple of weeks and Selection Sunday a little under a month away, college basketball’s finest teams are beginning to make their case for a national championship.

    The following will take a quick look at the top 10 contenders for a national title in this year’s NCAA tournament.

No. 10 Georgetown Hoyas

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    Record: 19-5 (9-4 conference)

    Current Standing: No. 4 in the Big East

    Analysis: The Georgetown Hoyas have shown steady improvement over the course of this season. In addition, they might have shown the nation that they can play with the elite teams when they lost a close battle to Syracuse in overtime.

    The funny thing about that game is that some pundits were more impressed with that loss than with Georgetown’s other wins.

    In the end, they are not entirely impressive in any category this season, not ranking any higher than 61 (field goal percentage) in statistical averages, but they do have a solid roster.

    Take note of Otto Porter, a freshman forward who has been impressing analysts with his play off the bench. He averages 8.8 points and seven rebounds per game, playing 29 minutes.

No. 9 Baylor Bears

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    Record: 22-4 (9-4 conference)

    Current Standing: No. 3 in the Big 12

    Analysis: The Baylor Bears started the season off on a 17-0 run, marking the best start in school history. This start also showed the nation that the Bears were not a force to be reckoned with, unless you are Kansas or Missouri.

    Baylor dropped both series to the Jayhawks and the Tigers in four thumpings, causing some to question if the Bears can play among the best in college basketball.

    Boasting an incredibly talented and deep roster, Baylor was able to bounce back against conference opponent Iowa State and prove that they still belong among the top 10 teams in the nation.

    To win a championship, Baylor is going to have to grow more consistent in its play and leadership.

No. 8 North Carolina Tar Heels

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    Record: 21-4 (8-2 conference)

    Current Standing: Tied for No. 1 in the ACC

    Analysis: The North Carolina Tar Heels are a difficult team to place, not because they are a bad team, but because there are other teams that are playing better than them right now.

    They have recently come under fire for lacking the intensity of a championship team, allowing archrival Duke to overcome a late 11-point deficit and pull out the win.

    This team can be extremely dangerous when firing on all cylinders; it just needs to show that more. 

No. 7 Michigan State Spartans

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    Record: 20-5 (9-3 conference)

    Current Standing: Tied for No. 1 in the Big Ten

    Analysis: The Michigan State Spartans have a history of Final Four appearances, playing in three of the last seven.

    They embody their mascot and play with a warrior’s spirit, so much so in fact that they have fought their way to a ninth overall ranking in rebounds per game.

    Shocking Ohio State and snapping the Buckeye’s 39-game home win streak, Michigan State has proven that it can play among the big boys.

    On top of that, senior forward Draymond Green may be winning himself at least one trophy this season: Big Ten Player of the Year.

No. 6 Duke Blue Devils

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    Record: 20-5 (8-2 conference)

    Current Standing: Tied for No. 1 in the ACC

    Analysis: No team wants to go through offseason losses like what Duke faced last year, losing Kyrie Irving, Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler.

    Yet, the Duke Blue Devils may be coming together at just the right moment.

    Criticism of Austin Rivers’ teamwork and selfishness are still legitimate concerns, but can one really complain when he puts up a game-winning performance like he did against North Carolina?

    If Rivers can click with his team in the tournament and head coach Mike Krzyzewski do what he does best, Duke will continue its history of tournament greatness. 

No. 5 Kansas Jayhawks

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    Record: 20-5 (11-2 conference)

    Current Standing: No. 1 in the Big 12

    Analysis: Somehow head coach Bill Self has put together another contender this year in the 2012 Kansas Jayhawks.

    Led by Player of the Year candidate Thomas Robinson and senior guard Tyshawn Taylor, Kansas is continuing to show why it is the most storied program in the Big 12. With the emergence of Jeff Withey for the Kansas, the Jayhawks are now looking at an incredible threat from three of the leagues top players.

    After the beat down they handed Baylor in Waco, the Jayhawks were able to survive a tough road environment against Kansas State and pull out the win.

No. 4 Ohio State Buckeyes

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    Record: 21-4 (9-3 conference)

    Current Standing: Tied for No. 1 in the Big Ten

    Analysis: The Ohio State Buckeyes may have snapped their home winning streak, but that does not take anything away from the title hopes of this dangerous squad.

    Michigan State was able to exploit the Buckeyes’ weakness by pounding Jared Sullinger on defense and causing him to turn the ball over. Yet, this Player of the Year candidate is more likely to respond with better ball handling next time, rather than letting the 10 turnovers get him down.

    Another key figure on this team that does not get as much recognition as he deserves is Aaron Craft.

    Craft is one of the best defensive guards in the nation, but his statistics are not his only upside. He is a leader for Ohio State and will be a primary reason the Buckeyes make it far in March.

No. 3 Missouri Tigers

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    Record: 23-2 (10-2 conference)

    Current Standing: No. 2 in the Big 12

    Analysis: Talk about a surprise.

    The Missouri Tigers have always been known for their quick style of play, even coining the phrase “the fastest 40 minutes in basketball.”

    When the tournament comes around, no team is going to want to see the Tigers even remotely close to their draw.

    First year head coach Frank Haith is hoping to lead his Tigers to a first place seed in the tournament and could possibly earn himself Coach of the Year along the way.

    That aside, do not discount the talent of Ricardo Ratliffe who is not scoring the most points per game for Missouri, but is sinking 73.7 percent of his field goals, a statistic challenging the NCAA record. 

No. 2 Syracuse Orange

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    Record: 26-1 (13-1 conference)

    Current Standing: No. 1 in the Big East

    Analysis: The most impressive aspect of this Syracuse squad is that they are arguably the deepest roster in college basketball.

    Let’s not discount the fact that they have played 27 games and only lost one. Obviously, there is something special about the Orange.

    With a legendary coach on the sidelines, no one should be counting Syracuse out of the big dance.

    That being said, the team could still work on its consistency before March rolls around.

No. 1 Kentucky Wildcats

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    Record: 25-1 (11-0 conference)

    Current Standing: No. 1 in the SEC

    Analysis: The team to beat right now has to be the Kentucky Wildcats.

    Kentucky has shown its dominance in the SEC and has proven that it is capable of putting a beat down on other highly ranked teams.

    Star freshman Anthony Davis is a force on defense and has shown improvement on the offensive side of the ball, but the Wildcats are not a one-man team.

    Experience in the tournament should never be discounted, either, as Terrence Jones, Darius Miller and Doron Lamb all played in the Final Four in the 2011 season and know what it takes to do far in the tournament.

    With head coach John Calipari at the helm, Kentucky is once again poised to make a deep run in March and, maybe this time, bring home the trophy. 

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