For your printable bracket for the 2012 NCAA tournament, click here.
While the NCAA tournament may not figure to be quite as wild as it has been in recent years—since there are really two dominant teams and after them mostly a bunch of also-rans—that doesn’t mean there won’t be a ton of fun individual matchups to watch.
In fact there are a host of potential matchups I, and all basketball fans, cannot wait to see in this year’s NCAA tournament. Not all of these are guaranteed, but all are possible. Let’s hope all, or most take place in this tournament.
Scott Machado versus Jorge Gutierrez may not sound like a great matchup to the casual basketball fan. But to those who know the game, these two are among the finest guards in college basketball.
Gutierrez is a lockdown defender and Machado is the ultimate creator for his team. He is probably the second-best distributor in college basketball to North Carolina point guard Kendall Marshall.
Head-to-head the two ought to have one fun matchup. Whoever gets the best of this matchup probably wins the game between the two teams as well.
Robert Sacre isn't Gonzaga's best offensive player by any stretch of the imagination. But he is the WCC defensive player of the year. He's going to have to come up huge for the 'Zags as they face West Virginia's Kevin Jones, the second-most valuable player in the country according to StatSheet.
Jones presents an arsenal of inside moves and outside assassination that is rare in the college game. If Sacre and the 'Zags can make Jones work on the defensive end that would help them in slowing him down.
But look for Sacre to primarily be concerned with slowing Jones down. If he can, it would go a long way to helping the 'Zags defeat the Mountaineers.
Both Mike Moser and Andre Roberson are do-everything statsheet stuffers for their respective squads. Both play power forward for their teams and are integral to its success.
Though both would be undersized by NBA standards, each is the perfect size for the college game. Moser may be a better overall shooter, while Roberson is the better rebounder. Either way, when these two match up in the first-round game in Albuquerque it promises to be a great matchup.
I cannot wait to see who wins the matchup between these two.
While this is an unlikely Sweet 16 matchup, it would be an extremely exciting one should it come to fruition.
Sullinger plays below the rim, a la Elton Brand. Nicholson is a high-flying aggressive shot blocker, very reminiscent of Tyson Chandler, who blocked eight Xavier Muskateers' shots on Sunday in the Atlantic 10 final.
Both are future NBA players, and it would be quite a contrast in style. Could Sullinger get Nicholson away from the rim and hit a few jump shots then pump fake and drive by him? Or would Nicholson frustrate Sullinger?
On the other end, would Nicholson be able to get some lobs at the rim and outquick Sullinger around the rim?
Few players are as offensively gifted in this tournament as Creighton forward Doug McDermott. If and when his Blue Jays match up against UNC, he is going to face quite a challenge.
Whether the Tar Heels elect to put their ultra-athletic lanky shot-blocking power forward, John Henson, or their scoring small forward, Harrison Barnes, remains to be seen.
Both will make life tough on McDermott. The length of Henson would be a lot for the Missouri Valley player of the year to deal with. But the quickness of Barnes would be difficult as well.
Look for the Blue Jays to cross match defensively so that McDermott can take Barnes and doesn't get beat up in the post.
Either way, the Tar Heel being covered by McDermott figures to be someone with an aggressive approach trying to create fouls on McDermott and simply to wear him out.
And because his main value for the Blue Jays is as an offensive player, look for him to not go quite as hard on defense. Whoever he is guarding will likely benefit from that.
Drew Gordon is a very skilled offensive player, but that doesn't mean he lacks toughness. That's a good thing because if he and the Lobos face Michigan State in the Sweet 16 he's going to need plenty of it against Draymond Green.
Green will probably try to beat Gordon up, while Gordon will probably try to use his quickness and footwork to get Green's feet tied in knots. If he is able to do that he should be able to score around the basket.
Green prefers a much more direct approach and will probably try to back Gordon down and Gordon falling backwards before going up for dunks and layups around the basket.
Either way it figures to be a tremendous matchup between two of college basketball's best big men.
Because Missouri plays four guards it's nearly impossible to know exactly how the Tigers would match up against Marquette's best guard. As of now we'll assume Kim English would take Odom.
Assuming that's the case, you've got Missouri's second-best player (in my opinion) taking on Marquette's second-best player. Between the two there is great shot-making ability and leadership.
It would be two players who don't want to lose. It's two players who make their teams better. Most likely the winner of this matchup wins the game.
Thomas Robinson is one of the best players in the country. He's a power forward with skills more similar to that of a small forward. The same is true of St. Mary's' Rob Jones.
For that reason the two matching up against one another ought to make for some fun basketball should these two teams play each other in the round of 32.
While Robinson is a national player of the year candidate, Jones is overshadowed by Gaels' point guard Matthew Dellavedova who won WCC player of the year. Kansas will likely try to stop the Aussie first, meaning Jones may not be stressed defensively in the same way Robinson will be stressed by the Gaels' defense.
Jones doesn't produced the same kind of numbers as Robinson but he defends and provides toughness. He is likely to make life tough on Robinson, maybe tougher than any other team Kansas faces on the road to the Final Four (assuming the Gaels don't beat them).