NCAA Bracket 2012 Predictions: Upset Picks for Round of 64

Scott SemmlerAnalyst IIMarch 11, 2012

NCAA Bracket 2012 Predictions: Upset Picks for Round of 64

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    So we begin the long week before the field of 64 teams tips off on Thursday.  Meanwhile, we speculate, predict and pray that the team you picked will win their respective game.

    With Selection Sunday now behind us and the NCAA Tournament bracket set, now is the time grab that Sharpie and fill out that sheet of paper.

    Now, let the uncertainty begin.

    Right off the bat, this bracket is chalk full of upsets from three-seeds to eight-seeds on potential upset alerts in the second round, which is the field of 64 teams.  Several teams with prominent runs this past month will have no picnic with the teams the selection committee has chosen for them to play.

No. 10 Xavier over No. 7 Notre Dame

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    The way Notre Dame has been playing lately, it did not matter who they were matched up with in the field 64 teams on Selection Sunday.

    The Irish have lost three of their last five games and are in the middle of one of their low points of the season, capped off with a 14-point loss to Louisville in the Big East Tournament.

    Xavier, on the other hand, has not done much better.  Losing to St. Louis towards the end of the regular season, then losing to St. Bonaventure in the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament championship.

    However, Xavier has Tu Holloway who tends to show up in the NCAA Tournament every season.  They also have guard Mark Lyons and big man Kenny Frease as the supporting cast.  

    The Musketeers have experience on their side in this game and should pull of the upset of a weary Irish team.

No. 9 St. Louis over No. 8 Memphis

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    Memphis is coming off a good effort in the Conference USA Tournament, in which they took down Marshall to win championship.  They are also riding a seven-game winning streak heading into the tournament where they will play St. Louis.

    St. Louis is coming off a disappointing loss to Xavier in the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament, but has kept it close with a lot of good teams that are in the NCAA Tournament, including Temple, New Mexico,  and even beating Washington earlier in the season.

    They are a pass-first team that shoots a good percentage from the field and will play havoc to a streaking Memphis team.

No. 13 Montana over No. 4 Wisconsin

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    The thing to remember here is that the Big 10 was one of the best conferences this year and Wisconsin was right in the middle of it. However, never mess with a team that has won 14-straight games going into the NCAA Tournament, like Montana will be doing when they take on the Badgers on Thursday.

    Montana had no problem running through the Big Sky Conference Tournament, winning by 19 over Weber State in the championship game.

    They are led by will Cherry, who is averaging 16 points per game this season, and he is supported by fellow guard Kareem Jamar.  They make for a very good backcourt and will be the entire for Wisconsin.

    Wisconsin had a very good run in the Big 10 Tournament, beating Indiana, as well as Ohio State in late-February, but a determined team like Montana should be able to give them a real good game this week.

No. 10 West Virginia over No. 7 Gonzaga

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    This is about as even a matchup as the second round can muster, with a talented West Virginia team out of the Big East and a consistent Gonzaga team out of the West Coast Conference.

    Gonzaga is coming off a loss to St. Mary's in the championship game.  It was a team that simply had their number and should play no part in picking them to lose.

    The Zags will lose simply because West Virginia is a big, athletic team with experience in the Big East.  Gonzaga will not be able to keep up with their up-tempo style.

    Although the Mountaineers do have a good amount of losses to the premiere teams in the Big East, they should be able to take those lessons and apply them to their game against a team seeded slightly above where they should be.

No.12 California/USF over No. 5 Temple

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    Temple had a poor showing in the Atlantic 10 Tournament, despite finishing first in the regular season.  They fell to Massachusetts on Friday and earned a spot in the NCAA Tournament via an at-large bid.

    At a point this season, Temple rallied off 11 wins a row, but will be forced to go up against teams from far bigger conference in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

    Cal and South Florida will square off early next week for a right to play Temple and have a great chance at getting the upset.  Cal has been one of the best teams in the PAC-12 this season, despite barely sneaking into the tournament.  The PAC-12 did not act like a power conference this season by any means.

    South Florida may be the most likely to upset Temple if they beat Cal.  They had two very nice wins late in the regular season over Cincinnati and Louisville, who went on to play for the Big East Tournament title.  They also played a nice game against Notre Dame, taking them to overtime before falling to them in the Big East Tournament.

    Temple should have their hands full with either team. 

No. 11 North Carolina State over No. 6 San Diego State

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    NC State gave North Carolina fits on Saturday night when the two teams played each other for a trip to the ACC Tournament championship, and the Wolfpack have shown great resilience despite being placed on the bubble for most of this last week.

    San Diego State may be a little overrated in this tournament, with bad losses to New Mexico, UNLV and Air Force in the month of February.  They even lost to New Mexico again by nine points in the Mountain West Conference Tournament.  They have yet to have that defining win over a premiere team late in the season.

    NC State has been just the opposite, and should be able to sneak one out on Friday.

No. 11 Texas over No. 6 Cincinnati

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    If there was one 11 seed that Cincinnati did not want to see, it probably was Texas.  

    The Longhorns have kept up with some good teams this past month, and it almost seems like the team is due to pull of a big upset sometime soon, after taking Kansas and Baylor deep into the second half over the last month.

    Cincinnati is riding a high after a good run the Big East Tournament, but their good fortune may run out against a very good Texas team out of the competitive Big 12.

    Texas has big men to throw at Yancy Gates, which could be the difference in this game.

No. 9 Connecticut over No. 8 Iowa State

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    UConn is playing good basketball, as was plain to see in the Big East Tournament.  They went from bubble team to No. 9 seed in the NCAA Tournament rather quickly this last week.

    As UConn is playing well, so is Iowa State coming off a bad loss to Texas that could have knocked them straight out of the tournament.  Although they did have a nice win over Baylor last Saturday, they have fallen short the majority of this season against highly-ranked teams.

    The Huskies are playing like a highly-ranked team.  Jim Calhoun will have this team ready, Shabaz Napier is starting to take over and Jeremy Lamb and others will  bring the experience of last year's National Championship with them in a win over Iowa State on Thursday.

No. 10 Virginia over No. 7 Florida

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    Virginia's Mike Scott is a big-time player and that will be on full display in the NCAA Tournament.  He has the potential to take over games and that will be a handful for Florida in the second round.

    The Cavaliers themselves are not bad, either.  They have hung tough with UNC and Florida State this season, but are going into the NCAA Tournament losing three of four games.

    Florida is just missing that one piece that Chandler Parsons left behind last season.  They continue to rely on their guard play to win games and that could be their downfall, as it was last year in the NCAA Tournament.

    They have also lost four of their last five games.

    It will be a battle of who can rebound from recent defeats the best, but we should see Scott with the ball in his hands in the final moments carrying Virginia to upset win.

No. 13 Ohio over No. 4 Michigan

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    This is a very intriguing matchup if you want to pick a game maybe nobody else in your group has as an upset.  However, this game has excellent upset potential.

    Michigan is at a low in their season, after getting blown out by a determined Ohio State team.  The loss came after Michigan beat Minnesota to get to play the Buckeyes.

    The Wolverines have yet to that game that can define their season, making them a potential target for an upset, if Ohio is that team we saw them become towards the end of the season.

    Ohio relies heavily on guard-play, but that should be no problem against Michigan that does more of the same with Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr.  Look for a player D.J. Cooper to be the X-factor in this game.  If Michigan cannot stop him, then look for Ohio to claim the upset.