NCAA Bracket 2012 Predictions: 12 Teams Guaranteed to Win on Thursday
It's the first big day of the tournament, and it's time for brackets to start busting.
Depending on your picks, the first full day can keep you alive in your pool, or it could liberate you to cheer for whoever you want to cheer for. Upsets will happen, and good teams will go down.
However, I've made a list of teams that are guaranteed to win today. There are 16 games, and you can pencil in these 12 teams into the round of 32. By no means will all these games be blowouts. However, these teams have the right recipe to win.
The guarantees are in order of start time, so you can watch all day as these teams win games one by one.
Since losing its first game of the season, Murray State has lost a lot of respect.
Yes, a loss to Tennessee State is a pretty large blemish for a team, but the loss refocused the Racers. They finished the season on a seven-game winning streak, and they got their revenge on Tennessee State by beating them twice.
Colorado State doesn't pose much of a threat to the quick, athletic shooters of Murray State, which is why the Racers shouldn't have a problem winning by double digits.
Many people like to disrespect the Big 10, and Wisconsin gets the brunt of that hate.
The Badgers don't do anything noticeably well, they usually struggle on the road and they are pretty boring to watch. Regardless, they win games.
Under Bo Ryan, the Badgers have made it to the NCAA tournament all 11 years. In the first round, his record is 9-1. There isn't much more of a guarantee than that.
Wisconsin may be unimpressive to watch, but the results are always impressive. The Badgers have a good team, and they should be able to grind out a double-digit win over Montana.
As a whole, the Big East did not have a good showing in the NCAA tournament last year.
However, Marquette was one of the bright spots. They were one of the only two Sweet 16 teams from the conference that got 11 bids. As an 11 seed, Marquette overachieved.
This year, as a three seed, there are much higher expectations from Buzz Williams' squad. The Golden Eagles had a great regular season, but they were manhandled in the Big East tournament. They hope to bounce back with a deep run into March.
Marquette has some of the quickest players in the country. Big East Player of the Year Jae Crowder and senior Darius Johnson-Odom give the Golden Eagles one of the best scoring duos in the tournament. If they rebound well, Marquette could go a long way.
Even though BYU pulled off the greatest comeback in NCAA tournament history, Marquette shouldn't have a problem disposing of the Cougars.
Even without Fab Melo, Syracuse has absolutely no chance of losing in the first round.
Their frontcourt has taken a hit, but the backcourt is still one of the best in the country. Scoop Jardine, Brandon Triche and Dion Waiters are one of the most dynamic trios in college basketball. They shoot, pass and defend extremely well, which gives the Orange a leg up on most opponents.
UNC-Asheville had a great season in the Big South. Unfortunately, they just can't match up with 'Cuse. They would like to keep it close for awhile, but Syracuse will end up winning this game by at least 20 points.
Long Beach State **Upset**
Long Beach State played five teams that finished the regular season in the top 25.
Unfortunately, the 49ers didn't beat any of them. Now Long Beach State hopes to pull off an upset against New Mexico.
With Casper Ware leading the charge, the 49ers are in good shape. He is one of the best scorers in the country, and New Mexico will have a rough time slowing him down. Ware doesn't shoot the ball from outside particularly well, but he's crafty in the lane and makes his free throws when it counts.
This matchup is usually ripe for an upset, which is just another reason to jump on the 49ers' bandwagon (while there's still room).
Mark it down: Long Beach State will pull off the first upset in the 2012 NCAA tournament.
With Fab Melo out for Syracuse, Vanderbilt has become a trendy pick to make it to the Elite Eight.
The Commodores are definitely talented enough, but they need to take it one game at a time. They knocked off Kentucky in the SEC Championship game, which means they're capable of beating anybody.
Vanderbilt will be coming off that win on an emotional high, and they should be able to cruise in the first round. However, Harvard is a scrappy team that could give Vandy some trouble. Remember, the Commodores have lost in each of their last three first-round games.
Nevertheless, Vanderbilt's shooters and perimeter defense will help them cruise to a victory.
No surprises here.
Kentucky is probably the most talented team in the country. Even though John Calipari has underachieved in the NCAA tournament in the past, he got a suspect team to the Final Four last year.
This year, it will be his job to get this team a national championship. They're six wins away, but the first one is the most important right now.
For the top seed in the tournament, I don't think Western Kentucky will put up much of a fight. This game will be over by halftime.
As last year's Cinderella story, VCU won't sneak up on people this year.
Instead, good preparation and execution will take the Rams deep in the tournament. A Final Four run is unlikely, but they could definitely rattle off a few wins.
Wichita State is an overrated, overseeded team that will be exposed by a more experienced VCU. The Shockers are a popular pick to make the Sweet 16. However, they will have to overcome Shaka Smart's genius first.
Don't get too excited.
VCU knows how to win in the tournament, and they will prove that yet again by upsetting Wichita State in a very close (possibly overtime) game.
West Virginia **Upset**
Even though it's an upset according to the seeding, picking against Bob Huggins in the tournament is a dangerous endeavor.
Love him or hate him, the man knows how to win in March.
West Virginia has had a full week off after bowing out early in the Big East tournament. Now the Mountaineers are ready to make some noise.
Kevin Jones is a stud, and his double-double averages make him a big-time player. He has Final Four experience, and he knows what it takes to win in the tournament.
With Huggins in charge and Jones playing well, West Virginia will have no trouble taking care of a young, inexperienced Gonzaga team.
Despite getting dismantled by Missouri in the Big 12 Championship, Baylor is still a force to be reckoned with.
Baylor has been overshadowed by the other teams in their conference as well as their own women's team. Meanwhile, the men are pretty darn good themselves.
Pierre Jackson and Perry Jones are two of the most underrated stars in the country. Jackson can score and facilitate while Jones scores and rebounds.
The Bears are athletic and dangerous to pretty much any team.
South Dakota State can shoot as well as they could ever hope to, and they still don't stand a chance of keeping up with Baylor. This game will be a blowout from the very beginning.
Jared Sullinger has refined his game this year, making him even more dominant than last year.
With Fab Melo gone, Sullinger has to be salivating at the opportunity to single-handedly destroy the East region's big men. Ohio State has its eyes on the Final Four, but Thad Motta needs to keep his team more focused than last year.
The Buckeyes seemed to overlook Kentucky last year, which cost them a chance at a national title (as well as the Final Four and Elite Eight). This year, the Buckeyes aren't the heavy favorites, and they seem to be enjoying the lack of pressure.
In the first game, they match up against Loyola. The Greyhounds are a solid team, but they have no business being on the same court as Ohio State. The Buckeyes could easily end up winning this game by 30.
UNLV wants to run.
When they do it well, they can beat North Carolina by 10. When they don't do it well, they lose to Wichita State by nearly 20.
When they play in the halfcourt, the Rebels aren't nearly as effective. They need to get out and run, regardless of whom they play. If Mike Moser & Co. get out in the open floor, UNLV is tough to beat.
Lucky for them, they get a first-round matchup with Colorado. Colorado beating Arizona in the Pac-12 championship was one of the worst championship games I've ever seen. Neither team seemed good enough to play in the NCAA tournament.
The Pac-12 was bad. Its champion is bad.
UNLV shouldn't have much of a problem running the Buffaloes out of the gym.