The 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball tournament field of 68 teams has officially been set. Bubbles have burst, prayers have been answered, and now the real madness ensues.
The NCAA tournament is one of the most exciting events on the American sports calendar. The tournament's opening round is a two-day adrenaline binge for sports fans, with constant drama fueled by the heartlessness of the final buzzer. No matter how valiantly a David fights one of the sport's Goliaths, victories in the tournament are measured only by the numbers remaining on the scoreboard when the final buzzer sounds.
Win and play on; lose and go home.
While teams are carefully seeded according to their perceived strength and ability to win the tournament's ultimate crown, the first round of games always serves as a stark reminder that in college basketball teamwork and dedication can overcome any disparity in talent and potential between two teams as they take the floor.
With the field of 68 set in stone, millions across America have begun to pour over their brackets, trying to predict upsets, find sleepers, and avoid being losing the money by the end of the first weekend.
While some are content to choose their winners based on team colors, mascots, or nicknames, the most surefire way to coast through the first weekend with your Sweet Sixteen, Elite Eight, and Final Four still intact is to know which first round matchups could produce unexpected results and identify which teams were seeded too low or too high.
Technically now labeled the tournament's "second round", thanks to the four play-in games scheduled to be played on Tuesday and Wednesday being labeled the "first round", the slate of 32 games set to begin on Thursday and continue on through Friday are, for all intents and purposes, the first true round of the tournament.
Here are predictions for all 32 of the games that will help you identify which favorites will fall, which underdogs will prevail, and which picks will make you look like a genius in front of all your friends.