Bracket Picks 2012: 3 Sleeper Teams Destined to Make a Deep Tournament Run

Justin KeithCorrespondent IMarch 14, 2012

ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 09:  C.J. Leslie #5 of the North Carolina State Wolfpack waits to shoot free throws against the Virginia Cavaliers during the Quarterfinals of the 2012 ACC Men's Basketball Conferene Tournament at Philips Arena on March 9, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Sure, Kentucky and Syracuse may be the "sexy" picks to go all the way in the 2012 NCAA tournament, but there are teams flying under the radar who think otherwise. 

Every year there seems to be one team that comes out of nowhere to make some noise in the tournament, and this year will be no different. 

Here are some under-the-radar teams who can make a serious run in this year's NCAA tourney. 



Could this be possible deja vu? 

This time last year, no one could have anticipated VCU making it out of the first two rounds, never mind earning a spot in the Final Four. 

One year later, VCU finds themselves as a No. 12 seed in the tournament and are poised to prove their doubters wrong again. 

Under young coach Shaka Smart, VCU has valuable experience that could help them advance to the Sweet 16 and a matchup with top-seed Kentucky. 

Teams beware; VCU knows how to win late in March. 



With a tough first-round matchup with No. 7-seed Notre Dame, the No. 10 seed Xavier will have nothing but tough matchups the rest of the tournament should they get past the Fighting Irish. 

However Xavier has balanced scoring in Tu Holloway and Mark Lyons, and they have the defensive ability to limit an opposing team's offense. 

If Xavier is able to get past Duke in the third round, watch out for Xavier, as they will have sky-high confidence heading into the Sweet 16. 


NC State

After a nice run in the ACC tournament, NC State will have confidence heading into their second round matchup with San Diego State. 

NC State had an up-and-down end of the season under Mark Gottfried, but will build off of their play in the ACC tourney and use momentum to get past Georgetown in the third round. 

The Wolfpack has tremendous balance on offense, boasting five players averaging in double-figures. This type of balance is just what a team needs to make noise in the tournament.