Selection Sunday is complete and field for the 2012 NCAA Tournament is set.
College basketball fans are now scrambling to fill out brackets in hopes of constructing the perfect bracket. The key to success in filling out a winning bracket is picking the upsets. Last year an eleventh seed went to the Final Four and if you were one of the lucky few to predict that outcome, you most likely won your bracket pool.
With that in mind, here are 25 bold predictions for your bracket.
This is a bold upset considering a No. 1 seed has never lost in their opening outing in the NCAA tournament. However if there ever is a time for a monumental upset it’s this year.
Kentucky, North Carolina, Michigan State, and Syracuse all received the prestigious No.1 seeds, but one of them will go home early.
Let’s get the biggest bold prediction out of the way early.
Syracuse will lose to UNC-Asheville.
The Bulldogs enter this game against Syracuse with previous tournament experience, losing to Pittsburgh a year ago. They enter this season with a better RPI (105) and a better record (24-9) than last year.
Syracuse is the better team, but anything can happen once tournament play begins, and Asheville will be ready.
Eight teams will compete in the first-round with an opportunity to jump into the main bracket. Mississippi Valley State, BYU, Iona, Western Kentucky, Lamar, Vermont, California, and South Florida will be involved in the First Four.
One of those teams will win two games and upset a higher seed along the way.
Iona is the team that all the experts are disrespecting for making the tournament. Many experts believed that Drexel or Northwestern should have received the invite over Iona.
That type of negative press can be used as motivation for a team in the tournament. Iona had 15 wins away from home and will be ready for tournament play.
Iona will beat BYU in the First Four and then take down Marquette in the second round. That type of marquee win will quiet all the naysayers.
During the 2011 NCAA Tournament, seven teams with higher seeds won their game and advanced in upsets. This year that number will increase as the field is as even as it has ever been.
This tournament is entertaining to watch because every game is a potential upset and this year will be just as fun as the underdogs come to play.
Gonzaga grabbed a seven seed in the tournament, but that came with a tough matchup against West Virginia. The Mountaineers have the size and skills to match up with Gonzaga and this game will be played in Pittsburgh, which heavily favors West Virginia.
The No. 12 seed has been notorious for pulling off the upset in the NCAA Tournament. Last year only one No. 12 seed advanced past the second round when Richmond defeated No. 5 Vanderbilt.
This year the No. 12 seed is very deadly and three of the four seeds will advance past the second round.
VCU was a Cinderella a year ago, and they are back for more. This year they are a 12 seed and will face Wichita State in the first round.
With the experience from a year ago, VCU will advance and shock Wichita State.
Vanderbilt entered the 2011 NCAA tournament as a five seed only to be ejected by Richmond in an upset. Now they enter 2012 in a similar five spot, but this time they are SEC Champs.
Tommy Amaker has turned around the Harvard basketball program and will have his team ready for tournament play. Harvard is a very strong team and will beat Vanderbilt, sending the Commodores out early once again.
The third team to advance as a No. 12 seed in the tournament is Long Beach State. Long Beach won the Big West Conference tournament title game to earn a spot against New Mexico.
Long Beach State has a senior filled team and they should have Larry Anderson back for this first round game, making them a formidable opponent. The 49ers will upset New Mexico and advance as a dangerous 12 seed.
The Big Ten is one of the most talented conferences in the country this year, but the brackets are not kind.
The Big Ten sent Michigan State, Ohio State, Indiana, Purdue, Michigan and Wisconsin to the NCAA Tournament and they all have challenging paths to the Elite Eight. With six teams representing the Big Ten they have potential, but when the dust clears, they will not make it to the Elite Eight.
I predicted the Big Ten will not reach the Elite Eight and half of the field will be knocked out in the second round.
Wisconsin will fall victim to the deep-shooting talent of Montana. Indiana will lose to No. 13 New Mexico State and Purdue will not get by St. Mary’s.
Michigan State is a very talented team and Tom Izzo is considered one of the best tournament coaches in college basketball history, but they will run into a very talented Memphis team in the round of 32.
Memphis is clicking on all cylinders right now and Will Barton is an underrated player that can take a game over. The Spartans are on upset alert and will not get by Memphis.
The Final Four will be without a No. 1 seed. This is not something new as all four No. 1 seeds were eliminated before the Final Four last season.
This year the top teams will all be eliminated early again, leaving the tournament with a Cinderella team hoping to pull off the impossible.
Last year VCU stunned the college basketball world by going all the way to the Final Four as a No. 11 seed. That trend will continue this year as double digit seeds will go deeper in the tournament than normal.
Several teams have the potential to go deep, including VCU, Long Beach State, West Virginia and North Carolina State.
As usual the Big East is heavily represented in the NCAA Tournament. The Big East is sending nine teams to the Big Dance and they have a realistic shot of going deep into the brackets, but it won’t happen.
The Big East won the tournament last year with UConn but most of the teams in the conference got knocked out early. That will happen again this year.
Louisville won the Big East but did not get the best draw in the tournament. They start on the west coast against Davidson and if they are able to survive that contest, it only gets tougher.
If they beat Davidson they will face the winner of the Long Beach State or New Mexico and both teams will provide a very tough matchup for the Cardinals. Regardless of who they play, the Cardinals will not make it out of the opening weekend of the tournament.
The UConn Huskies are the defending champions but are a much different team from a year ago. The Huskies get a tough draw against Iowa State and they will lose in a game that will not even be close.
The Huskies have a problem defending the three point shot. Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg has this team headed in the right direction and it starts with a win over the Huskies.
The ACC will have the best showing in the NCAA Tournament. Out of all of the conferences in college basketball, the ACC will have the most teams in the Elite Eight. This is not really a bold prediction as North Carolina and Duke are top seeds, but considering the Big East has more teams, the ACC will hold its own.
Florida State enters the NCAA tournament on a roll and although they are in the same region as Syracuse and Ohio State they will make it to at least the Elite Eight.
Michael Snaer and the rest of the Seminoles are riding the momentum of winning the ACC conference title, similar to the run UConn made a year ago. The Seminoles have a scrappy defense and a three-point accuracy that can lead them to a string of victories in the tournament.
The early lines and odds in the NCAA tournament are starting to trickle out. Duke, Wisconsin, Ohio State and Missouri are just a few of the teams that are expected to cover double-digit point spreads.
All of the teams in the tournament are there for a reason and they will leave it all on the court in the second round of the tournament. For this reason, all of the double digit chalk will fail to cover early in the tournament.
As previously mentioned the Big Ten will struggle in this tournament and early losses are going to happen. One of those teams that will fail to make it out of the second round is the Wisconsin Badgers.
The early odds have the Badgers listed as ten point favorites in the opener against Montana, but the Grizzlies have players and talent to win.
All of the regions have the potential for upsets, but none more than the West Region.
Michigan State is a weak No. 1 seed and could be evicted early. Florida is a dangerous seven seed and there are several other teams with the ability to pull off the upset and go deep in the tournament. This year’s VCU will come from the West.
Murray State is not a Cinderella and many experts were surprised that they were only a six seed on Selection Sunday.
The Racers are loaded with talent and have a winnable path to the Final Four. This is a team that was bounced in the first round of the NIT a year ago and will be out to prove that they deserve to be in the Big Dance.
The Kansas Jayhawks.
Kansas could have easily been a No. 1 seed in this tournament and they will use that as motivation to make a run for the National Championship.
They will basically have home-court advantage throughout the tournament and have an excellent draw in the early rounds. Kansas has the talent and the easiest path to become national champions.
For your printable bracket for the 2012 NCAA tournament, click here