Duke may not have gotten a No. 1 seed liked they had hoped, but along with the rest of the No. 2s, they have just as good of a shot of winning it all.
When it comes down to it, the teams seeded fourth or higher are all pretty much in the same position and have a mentality of championship or bust. The really only advantage for a No. 1 seed comes in the first game, where No. 16s are winless against the region’s top dogs.
Beyond that, second-round matchups are equally difficult for any team across the board, with there not being much difference between playing an eighth seed or a seventh seed.
So while the No. 2s might not get as much publicity as the No. 1s, they have just as good of a shot making it to the Final Four.
Here is a breakdown of No. 2 seeds Duke, Ohio State, Mizzou and Kansas as they all make their runs to New Orleans.
The Blue Devils (27-6, 13-3 ACC) fell to FSU in the semifinals of the ACC tournament. Their shooting let them down as their leading scorer Mason Plumlee had only nine points. On the whole, the team was only .373 after hitting 19 field goals.
As a No. 2 seed, Duke holds an overall record of 23-7 in the tournament and has been to the Final Four five times. In 1991, they won it all giving Mike Krzyzewski his first national title in charge of the Blue Devils.
This Duke team resembles many of the last decade or so, with strong guard play from freshman Austin Rivers and junior Seth Curry. The two have averaged about 43 percent shooting and facilitate play in the open court very well.
Experts have them picked to go out against the fast and athletic Baylor in the Sweet 16. However, they fail to realize the experience factor that can come into play that late in the tournament.
Duke has the players who have been there before to help guide the youngsters down the stretch. Krzyzewaki himself is known for getting his players to rise to the challenge.
All the hysteria and energy of the tournament will wear down the Bears by the time the two sides meet and Duke will progress to the regional finals.
However, once they get to Atlanta, there will only be experience and their weaknesses will begin to show.
Prediction: Elite Eight
East: Ohio State
The Buckeyes (27-7, 13-5 Big Ten) came into the season as the Big Ten favorites, but soon found themselves on level ground with rest of the conference. An early conference loss to Indiana was a telling sign that the campaign for the Big Ten title would not be as easy as foretold.
Their star forward Jared Sullinger was plagued with injuries during the middle of the season, limiting his playing time and impact. Once healthy, he began to play like the kind of player many saw as the potential player of the year.
Ohio State has never had much luck in the modern era as a No. 2 seed. Their Final Four appearances in 1999 and 2007 were as a No. 4 and No. 1 seed respectively.
However, this year may see their fortunes change.
OSU is in arguably the easiest bracket in terms of depth. Along with No. 1 Syracuse, they are the clear-cut favorites to advance to the Final Four. With their stiffest possible competition before the Elite Eight being a hot-or-cold Florida State team, there is no reason to suggest they don’t make it that far.
Beyond that, Syracuse is a good team, but does not really have anyone who could stop Sullinger from having his way under the basket. No one on their roster matches him in both height and weight. Along with a one of the country’s best defenses, they could pull off the upset and get to New Orleans.
Prediction: Final Four
The Tigers (30-4, 14-4 Big 12) have had a sensational season, bolstering a strong Big 12 to elite conference status. Their .504 shooting is the third best in the country and has led to them averaging over 80 points per game.
Senior guard Marcus Denmon leads the way, averaging 17.6 points per game and 40 percent from beyond the arch. But what really has made him such a strong contributor are his sure hands. He averages just above one turnover a game, something that you like to see from the team leader.
The Tigers have never made the Final Four, despite making 26 appearances in the Big Dance. Their No. 2 seed this year is the second highest ever, only behind the 1994 tournament where they went in as a No. 1.
This athletic and energetic team will enjoy their opening game against Norfolk State as they some away looking like the best team on day one. However, they will have a rude awakening against Florida in the second round.
The Gators are not a better team man for man, but their slight advantage to rebound over the Tigers will be the difference.
It will be another year Mizzou fans miss out on the Final Four.
Prediction: Round of 32
The Jayhawks (27-6, 16-2 Big 12) were the Big 12 regular season champions, but their loss to Baylor in the conference championship dropped them to a No. 2 seed.
Junior forward Thomas Robinson has dominated the Big 12 inside, scoring 17.9 per game and grabbing an impressive 11.8 boards. He even has proven himself from three-point range, making six out of 13 on the season.
The Jayhawk program is one of the most storied in all the game. Five times they have been a No. 2 seed, twice making it to the Final Four. However, they have never won it as second favorites.
They should be able to end that this year.
They have a favorable draw in terms of their bracket, where they should be able to reach the Elite Eight with relative ease. There they will most likely meet North Carolina and though the Tar Heels will always have its supporters, they have been far too inconsistent for me to come out on top.
From there, they will go to the Final Four and meet Ohio State. The matchup between Robinson and Sullinger will be the best battle of season, with both nullifying the other. The Jayhawks will outscore the Buckeyes to get to the final.
Taking on Michigan State in the final will not be easy, but Robinson proves too much for the undersized Spartans and Kansas walks away with their fourth NCAA tournament.
Prediction: 2012 NCAA Champions
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