For your printable bracket for the 2012 NCAA tournament, click here.
What makes the NCAA tournament so great? Isn't it upsets and Cinderellas making a run in the tournament?
I know for me that is a huge part of the charm and the intrigue of the NCAA tournament. Never have mid-majors seemed more likely to make long runs in the tournament after many have done so in the past five seasons.
But which teams in the 2012 tournament are the most likely to provide that excitement by upsetting a higher ranked team?
I like this Marquette squad a lot. I figured prior to the brackets being announced I would be picking them to go to the Final Four.
Yet between BYU and Iona, I see two teams very capable of knocking Marquette out. A team seemingly as foolproof of an upset as Marquette is, is just the team most likely to actually get knocked out in the first round.
Whether it's Iona point guard Scott Machado or BYU's Brandon Davies, both teams have players who can slow down at least one of Marquette's best players. That's a good start to defeating the Golden Eagles.
Mid-major versus mid-major even when it's a 12 versus a 5 isn't exactly automatic in favor of the higher-seeded team. Heck, even your normal 12-5 matchup doesn't follow the normal rules we all assume about matchups.
Given the amazing run VCU had a year ago, and the back-to-back nature of Butler in the past two tournaments, it seems only appropriate to assume the Rams under Shaka Smart can win at least one tournament game.
With Wichita State being a somewhat weak No. 5 seed, I fully expect Smart and Co. to repeat their excellent performance for the opening round of this tournament.
Rarely would I pick a team to win a tournament game when I thought they were overrated and shouldn't even be in the tournament. Yet, Cincinnati is a good matchup for Texas. They have just enough size to handle Yancy Gates inside.
And J'Covan Brown is an excellent penetrator and scorer who can take advantage of the Bearcats' weakness.
Everyone is expecting Cincinnati to continue right where they left off the Big East Tournament. That would be great if they hadn't left off with a loss in the final. That loss to Louisville gives us just a hint of what could become of the Bearcats if Texas brings their A-game.
Without Verdell Jones III (lost to an ACL tear in the Big Ten Tournament), Indiana is not going to be the same team. They should not have been a four-seed. Since they are, they got one of the worst possible matchups they could get.
New Mexico State has two dominant interior players—Hamidu Rahman and Wendell McKines. And Hernst LaRoche is a guard capable of tearing apart an Indiana backcourt missing its leader.
Sure, Cody Zeller is a great player, but the Aggies from New Mexico State are too much for the Hoosiers to handle for 40 minutes.
With Casper Ware doing the scoring and Larry Anderson defending, "The Beach" has every opportunity to knock off the Mountain West's elite squad of 2012.
If Beach does win, it will be in the wildest round one game.
My prediction: Beach 76, New Mexico 74
The No. 14 Belmont Bruins have been here before. A year ago, they lost in the first round to the Wisconsin Badgers. Similar to the Kansas Jayhawks, the Georgetown Hoyas don't have a spectacular record in the tournament in recent years.
For that reason, the experience of Belmont—and the struggles of the Hoyas—make this a somewhat obvious upset choice.
Prediction: Belmont 79, Georgetown 68
After Florida State won its first ACC Championship Game Sunday, it wouldn't surprise anyone if the Seminoles came out flat in their round one victory.
To some extent, it's good that they're facing a St. Bonaventure squad under similar circumstances. What is absolutely not a good circumstance for them is that they're facing the most underrated big man in college basketball.
And the rest of the Bonaventure team ain't bad either.
Prediction: Bonaventure 61, Florida State 54