North Carolina is looking to win a national title behind sophomore Harrison Barnes
The 2012 NCAA Tournament's Midwest Region contains an interesting pool of teams. The North Carolina Tar Heels and Kansas Jayhawks were awarded the top two seeds respectively, but after them, there seems to be a drop off in terms of title-worthy teams.
The Georgetown Hoyas, Michigan Wolverines, and Temple Owls round out the top five seedings, but none of the aforementioned teams is a serious championship contender. Luckily for them, the beauty of the tournament is that top teams frequently get upset. Nobody is safe.
The San Diego State Aztecs and Creighton Blue Jays seem to be this region's selections for sleeper picks, and both squads have the potential to make a deep run.
Here's a breakdown of each of the matchups in the Midwest Region.
Predicted Score: North Carolina 88 Lamar/Vermont 56
The bottom line here is that it doesn't matter who wins the game between Lamar and Vermont. Whoever does is going to get steamrolled by North Carolina. The Tar Heels have been playing their best basketball of the season of late, especially point guard Kendall Marshall.
John Henson's wrist injury is a cause for concern, but even if he doesn't play in the Heels first tournament game, they will still roll.
Predicted Score: Kansas 76 Detroit 69
The Detroit Titans are going to put a scare into the Kansas Jayhawks. While Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor are used to dominating more talented players in Big 12 opponents, this Detroit team is riding the momentum of young star Ray McCallum Jr., who himself is an NBA prospect. Eventually, Robinson will have his way with the Titans interior players, and will rack up another impressive double-double in the process.
Predicted Score: Belmont 66 Georgetown 65
The Belmont Bruins are becoming seasoned veterans of the NCAA tournament, the current squad is a veteran group who have all been to the Big Dance before. Georgetown has been playing solid basketball behind the play of center Henry Sims, but this game has a big-time upset feel to it.
Predicted Score: Michigan 78 Ohio 61
The Michigan Wolverines are a dangerous team to play in the tournament because of their ability to throw several defenses at a team throughout the course of a game. Ohio and star guard D.J. Cooper aren't going to be prepared for the onslaught brought on by head coach John Beilein's defense, and Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. are going to both have big days for the Wolverines.
Predicted Score: Temple 55 California 54
The California Golden Bears squeaked into the tournament after being hyped as a preseason top 25 team. They have one of the best trios in college basketball in guards Jorge Gutierrez, Allen Crabbe and big man Harper Kamp. The problem is, they haven't played up to their ability. Temple also has their own talented three-guard lineup of Ramone Moore, Khalif Wyatt and Juan Fernandez. The difference in this game will be the play of Temple big men Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson and Michael Eric.
Predicted Score: San Diego State 72 North Carolina State 68
One of the more intriguing first round matchups of this year's NCAA tournament will be between the Aztecs and Wolfpack. It will be extremely fun to watch a battle between athletic forwards in San Diego State's Jamaal Franklin and N.C. State's C.J. Leslie. The Aztecs will pull away late in the game thanks to sharpshooter Chase Tapley's long range bombs, putting the Mountain West power in the round of 32.
Predicted Score: Saint Mary's 66 Purdue 60
The Gaels are one of the best teams in the country when it comes to sharing the basketball. They have several players with the ability to score, especially with 6'4" point guard Matthew Dellavedova. Purdue senior Robbie Hummel will be playing with the ferocity and desperation of a player who knows this is his last chance to make a run at a title. However, Saint Mary's has just too many options for the Boilermakers to stop.
Predicted Score: Creighton 81 Alabama 60
One of the better matchups in the entire bracket in round one will be between the Blue Jays and the Crimson Tide. They both feature stud power forwards. Creighton's Doug McDermott has had a breakout sophomore season, and absolutely nobody in the country has been able to stop him. JaMychal Green will try everything in his power to counter McDermott, but Alabama won't be able to stop Creighton's point guard Antoine Young, who will be the difference in this game.