NCAA Tournament 2012 Predictions and Picks: Help to Fill out Your Bracket

Adam WellsFeatured ColumnistMarch 13, 2012

HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 04:  The Connecticut Huskies pose for a team photo as they celebrate after defeating the Butler Bulldogs to win the National Championship Game of the 2011 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament by a score of 53-41 at Reliant Stadium on April 4, 2011 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

You are no doubt scrambling to absorb all the information about the NCAA Tournament that you can to make your picks. But before you make your final predictions and turn in your bracket, we have compiled a definitive list of things to look for and avoid. 

When you fill out so many brackets, your mind is going to be so shot by the time the games start that you will start breaking through doors with an ax and yelling out "Here's Johnny!"

Here is a list of things that you need to do before turning in your sheet of integrity. 


Things Not to Do


INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 11:  Jared Sullinger #0 of the Ohio State Buckeyes reacts against the Michigan State Spartans during the Final Game of the 2012 Big Ten Men's Conference Basketball Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 11, 2012 in Indiana
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

We all do this. 

Right before the brackets have to be turned in, like the minute prior to the games starting, you look over everything and try to talk yourself into an upset that really isn't there. 

"I don't have a No. 12 over a No. 5, but that happens every year. Which one do I take?" 

"Ohio State finished the regular season 3-3. Are they really back to being an elite team?"

Stop it!

When you start getting in your own head, it is time to put the pen down and let the picks be. 


Pick a Cinderella Just to Pick One

INDIANAPOLIS - APRIL 05:  Gordon Hayward #20 of the Butler Bulldogs drives against Kyle Singler #12 of the Duke Blue Devils during the 2010 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball National Championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium on April 5, 2010 in Indianapolis,
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

With VCU, Butler and George Mason making improbable tournament runs in recent years, there is a trend developing that forces many fans to feel obligated to make a Cinderella pick. 

That is where you get into trouble. The problem is, Cinderella stories don't happen every year. If they did, they wouldn't be Cinderella stories. They would just be commonplace. 

If you really study the "underdog" teams in the tournament, it should not be that hard to find a team that will come out of nowhere to make an Elite Eight or Final Four run. 


Avoid No. 1 Seeds in the Final Four

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 09: Head coach Jim Boeheim of the Syracuse Orange looks on from the sideline against the Cincinnati Bearcats during the semifinals of the Big East men's basketball tournament at Madison Square Garden on March 9, 2012 in New York City.
Chris Trotman/Getty Images

Parity is reigning supreme in college basketball this year. In fact, the last three years have seen just three No. 1 seeds make the Final Four. 

If you want to send one top-seeded team to New Orleans, that's OK. But don't put all your eggs in the Kentucky, Syracuse, North Carolina, Michigan State baskets expecting to be rewarded. 

Of those four teams, North Carolina has the easiest path. But even that is dicey due to the health of John Henson. 

Tread cautiously with the four big boys in this year's tournament. 


Things to Do

Play the Hot Hand

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 11:  Brandon Wood #30 (L) and Draymond Green #23 of the Michigan State Spartans celebrate after they won 68-64 against the Ohio State Buckeyes during the Final Game of the 2012 Big Ten Men's Conference Basketball Tournament at Ban
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

We have seen teams get on rolls in early March and ride that wave all the way to a national championship. It happened with Duke two years ago and Connecticut last year. 

Momentum entering the tournament is far more important than overall record. Teams that are playing the best coming in are the most likely candidates to win the whole thing. 

That means power teams like Michigan State, Missouri and Florida State, along with smaller programs like New Mexico and Saint Mary's, should be getting a lot of love on your bracket. 


Look for Veteran Teams

One of the reasons that there is so much parity in college basketball right now is due to the one-and-done rule. Powerhouse teams always load up on elite talent that is going to leave for the NBA as soon as possible, but everyone else builds a group that can gel together for a few years. 

We always talk about the importance of chemistry and cohesiveness in sports. Smaller schools are able to build that with three- and four-year starters. 


Overrated Teams to Avoid


KANSAS CITY, MO - MARCH 10:  Perry Jones III #1 of the Baylor Bears drives against Ricardo Ratliffe #10 of the Missouri Tigers in the first half during the championship game of the 2012 Big 12 Men's Basketball Tournament at Sprint Center on March 10, 2012
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

After losing to elite teams like Kansas and Missouri multiple times in the regular season, the Bears finally put it all together to defeat the Jayhawks in the Big 12 Tournament semifinals. 

They did fall to Missouri again in the final, but there could be a groundswell of support for them now that they have conquered one of the conference beasts. 

Don't buy into it. 

They are still too much of a finesse team and rely too much on their offense to win games. The defense has struggled against better teams, which will make them an easy target the deeper the tournament goes on. 



NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 08:  Fab Melo #51 of the Syracuse Orange looks on against the Connecticut Huskies during their quarterfinal game of the 2012 Big East Men's Basketball Tournament at Madison Square Garden on March 8, 2012 in New York City.  (Photo by J
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Despite a 31-2 record, the Orange didn't prove much in the regular season. Nothing they did made you stand up and take notice. 

They don't have a dynamic offense that can put up a lot of points in a hurry if/when they get behind. 

While the defense is good, they don't have the size on the inside to create matchup problems for opposing teams. Fab Melo could have been that player, but he is out of action once again

The best team the Orange beat this year is an overrated Marquette team. It will be a quick tournament for Jim Boeheim's team.