March Madness 2012 Schedule: Your Complete Guide to the Rest of the Tourney
The 2012 NCAA tournament has been nothing short of marvelous...mind-blowing...miraculous.
Half of the Sweet 16 is set. The other eight will be in place after the Sunday, March 18 games.
After this weekend, the final 15 games of this year's March Madness could be as memorable as any in the most recent years.
Here is a complete guide to the rest of the 2012 NCAA tournament.
We will preview today's games, next week's pairings and also look ahead to the possible matchups to come.
After that, we will look at how the remaining field is doing in an important statistical category.
Here we go!
Midwest Region, Third Round: (11) North Carolina State vs. (3) Georgetown
NC State and Georgetown face off on Sunday to advance to the Sweet 16.
The winner of this game will face the winner of the Kansas vs. Purdue game later today.
The Hoyas looked solid in their second-round game, beating Belmont 74-59.
The Wolfpack had a surprisingly easy time with San Diego State (79-65).
Both teams take care of the ball well. Ironically, they average the exact same number of TOs per game (12.7).
NC State is an offense-oriented team that scores 73.5 ppg (No. 51 in the nation) and dishes out 15.9 assists per game (No. 12).
Georgetown is balanced, but excels on defense, only allowing their opponents 59.2 ppg (No. 14 in the nation).
The key to the game may be to see if the Wolfpack can deal with the Hoyas' defensive pressure and strength on the defensive boards.
West Region, Third Round: (9) Saint Louis vs (1) Michigan State
If you like to watch a defensive battle, Saint Louis vs. Michigan State is the game for you.
The winner of this game will face Louisville next week.
The Billikens and Spartans are both stingy when it comes to allowing their opponents to score.
SLU gave up a paltry 57.4 ppg (No. 8 in the nation); MSU gives up 59.3 ppg (No. 16).
Even though Rick Majerus is an excellent tournament coach, he is going to have his hands full trying to come up with a defensive scheme to stop Draymond Green.
In the Spartans' opening game of the tournament, Green (pictured) put up his second career triple-double—a ridiculous 24 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists.
Midwest Region, Third Round: (8) Creighton vs. (1) North Carolina
Two high-octane offenses go head-to-head when Creighton and North Carolina play today.
The Tar Heels are the No. 2 scoring team in the nation, putting up 81.8 ppg. The Bluejays aren't far behind, ringing up 79.4 ppg (No. 9).
Both teams are very efficient. CU scores 1.17 points per possession (No. 2 in the nation); UNC is right there with 1.12 (No. 15). Their exceptional team assists-to-turnover ratios are almost exactly the same (1.47 for Creighton; 1.48 for Carolina).
Both teams' leading scorers, the Bluejays' Doug McDermott (averaging 23 points and eight rebounds) and the Tar Heels' Harrison Barnes (averaging 17 points and five rebounds) were high school teammates in Ames, Iowa.
But the key to the outcome of this game is how Creighton deals with the Tar Heels' outstanding PG, Kendall Marshall (pictured).
At the end of the regular season, Marshall has become a scoring threat as well as being a double-digit assist man. Over the last five games, he is averaging 14 points and 10 assists.
West Region, Third Round: (15) Norfolk State vs. (7) Florida
Kyle O' Quinn (pictured) may not be a household name yet, but if Norfolk State pulls off another major upset, he might become one.
The Spartans' shocking upset of Missouri on Friday afternoon was the fifth time that a No. 15 seed had beaten a No. 2 seed.
Can they do it again when they face Florida?
To do so, NSU coach Anthony Evans is going to have to get another outstanding defensive effort from his team. They contained the Mizzou perimeter attack. Now, they will have to do the same thing again with Florida's multi-guard lineup.
The Gators put as many as four guards on the court at the same time, causing matchup nightmares for most teams.
Midwest Region, Third Round: (13) Ohio vs. (12) South Florida
Not many people expected either of these teams to make it out of the second round.
The Mid-American champs, Ohio U, knocked off Michigan to advance to the round of 32.
South Florida had to beat Cal in a play-in game before taking down Temple.
This could be one of the lowest-scoring games in this year's March Madness.
Both of these teams control the tempo of the game with their shut-down defenses.
USF only allows their opponents 56.4 ppg (No. 7 in the country) and only scores 59.4 ppg (No. 325 in the country).
Ohio is No. 4 in the nation in steals (9.3 spg) and gives up 62.3 ppg.
South Florida's sophomore transfer Victor Rudd, Jr. (pictured) has caught fire as of late.
Over the last four games, Rudd, Jr. has averaged 15 points and six rebounds per game.
South Region, Third Round: (15) Lehigh vs. (10) Xavier
Lehigh pulled off what may have been the single biggest upset in NCAA tournament history when they beat Duke in Friday's second-round game.
No one outside of Bethlehem, Pa. probably thought that was possible, and most of the good citizens there probably had their doubts.
Xavier is a team that started the 2011-12 season by going undefeated in their first eight games, only to go 14-12 the rest of the way.
This unexpected matchup could render one of the best backcourt showdowns in the tournament.
Lehigh's C.J. McCollum (pictured) was absolutely brilliant versus Duke, scoring 30 points, grabbing six rebounds and dishing out six assists.
Xavier's Tu Holloway is a versatile guard that does it all, too.
Holloway put up 25 points in the Musketeers victory over Notre Dame.
Midwest Region, Third Round: (10) Purdue vs. (2) Kansas
If anyone deserves to have the tournament unfold in front of him, it's Purdue's Robbie Hummel.
Hummel (16.3 ppg; 7.1 rpg) has come back from not one, but two major knee surgeries that sidelined him for two seasons.
His intense determination is the reason that he is still playing the sport, let alone leading the Boilermakers back to the NCAA tournament and into the Round of 32.
Kansas, on the other hand, has big plans for March Madness.
After being knocked out of last year's tournament before seeing their dreams come true in the Final Four, the Jayhawks are focused on getting to New Orleans and getting the job done.
Hummel will have his hands full when he matches up against one of the best players in the nation in Thomas Robinson.
If Hummel can keep Robinson under wraps, Purdue has a shot to pull off another upset.
East Region, Third Round: (6) Cincinnati vs. (3) Florida State
If you like your college hoops hard-nosed and tough, the final game of the Round of 32 is just for you.
Florida State and Cincinnati don't know any other way to play than in-your-face and physical.
The Seminoles hold their opponents to 38.1 percent shooting (No. 5 in the nation) and block six shots per game (No. 7).
The Bearcats only allow their opponents to score 61.1 ppg and do a fantastic job of taking care of the ball, only committing 10 turnovers per game.
Cincy needs to keep an eye on Michael Snaer.
Snaer (pictured) can hit shots from downtown (hitting over 40 percent from beyond the arc) when the game is on the line. Just ask Duke.
South Region: Sweet Sixteen Games
Kentucky will have the chance to avenge their only regular-season loss when the Wildcats face Indiana in one of the South Region Sweet 16 games.
You know that John Calipari will pull out all of the stops to even the score against the Hoosiers, who won their December matchup on Christian Watford's last-second shot.
Kentucky is the best team in the nation in terms of field-goal percentage defense (36.9 percent) and shot blocking (8.8 bpg).
Indiana is very efficient on offense (1.15 points per possession) and one of the best shooting teams in the nation (No. 6; 49 percent from the field).
This one should be another great showdown.
Baylor will find out today who they will go up against in their Sweet 16 contest.
They will play the winner of the Xavier vs. Lehigh game.
Baylor has as much depth as any team in the tournament, with 10 players getting an average of 10 minutes or more per game.
The Bears can pound the ball inside to Perry Jones III, Quincy Acy, Quincy Miller or Anthony Jones.
Or Scott Drew's crew can hurt you from outside, with Pierre Jackson or Brady Heslip hitting shots from beyond the arc.
West Region: Sweet Sixteen Games
Marquette and Louisville have already punched their tickets and are waiting to find out today who they will play in their Sweet 16 matchups.
Marquette will play against the winner of the Florida vs Norfolk State contest.
The Golden Eagles' Jae Crowder is having a fantastic tournament.
The Big East Player of the Year put up 25 points and 16 rebounds against BYU, and then turned around and scored 17 points and grabbed 13 boards against Murray State.
Louisville will take on whoever survives and advances from the Michigan State and Saint Louis throwdown.
The Cardinals have won two hard-fought games to get to the Sweet 16. They have held off late runs by Davidson and New Mexico to move forward.
East Region: Sweet Sixteen Games
Syracuse and Wisconsin will face off in one of the East Region Sweet 16 games, while Ohio State waits to see if they will play Florida State or Cincinnati in their fourth-round game.
The game between the Orange and the Badgers will feature two of the premier defensive teams in the country.
Syracuse is No. 3 in the nation in both blocked shots (7.0 bpg) and steals (9.5 spg).
Wisconsin is No. 7 in the nation in three-point defense (29 percent) and No. 8 in field-goal defense (38.3 percent).
If Wisconsin can take care of the ball as it usually does, they will be in the game until the end.
Ohio State had an easy time in their opening game against Loyola (Md.) and then held off Gonzaga in their Round of 32 game (73-66).
Jared Sullinger (pictured) and Deshaun Thomas are one of the toughest frontcourt combos in the tournament.
When you add William Buford and Aaron Craft in the Buckeye backcourt, it's no surprise that Thad Matta's squad is where it is in this year's March Madness.
Midwest Region: Sweet Sixteen Games
Both of the Midwest Region Sweet 16 games will be determined today.
The winner of (1) UNC vs. (8) Creighton will meet the winner of (12) South Florida vs. (13) Ohio.
Carolina is still waiting to see if their talented PF John Henson (pictured) will return from his wrist injury.
The winner of (2) Kansas vs. (10) Purdue will go up against the winner of (3) Georgetown vs. (11) North Carolina State.
If you assumed that the higher-seeded teams would advance, then you could see a Carolina vs. Kansas Elite Eight matchup down the road.
But to make that assumption would be getting way ahead of ourselves in this season of seismic tournament upsets.
Let's just see who survives and advances today.
Key Stat: Field-Goal Percentage Defense
Of all of the stats that are crucial in determining success in the rest of the tournament, none may be more important than field-goal percentage defense.
This stat tells more about how effective a team is at stopping their opponent than scoring defense, which may be impacted by the pace of the game.
Seven of the remaining teams in the field are in the top 25 in the nation in this statistical category:
1. Kentucky 36.9
2. Louisville 37.9
3. Michigan State 38.0
5. Kansas 38.1
5. Florida State 38.1
8. Wisconsin 38.3
10. Syracuse 38.6
10. South Florida 38.6
16. Georgetown 38.7
23. North Carolina 39.3
Generally, teams that hold their opponents under 40 percent shooting have a very good chance of winning.
Watch this for the rest of the tournament and beyond.
No. 1 Seeds
Even though all four No. 1 seeds (Kentucky, North Carolina, Syracuse and Michigan State) are still in the running for the Final Four, history would say that it is not likely that all will be still playing in New Orleans.
Only once since the field was expanded to 64 teams did all four No. 1 seeds make it to the national semifinal games. Kansas, North Carolina, UCLA and Memphis all met at the Alamodome in San Antonio for the 2008 Final Four.
Will two No. 1 seeds play for the national championship?
It's happened six times before.
- 1982 North Carolina defeated Georgetown
- 1993 North Carolina defeated Michigan
- 1999 Connecticut defeated Duke
- 2005 North Carolina defeated Illinois
- 2007 Florida defeated Ohio State
- 2008 Kansas defeated Memphis
Last year was only the third time that not a single No. 1 advanced to the Final Four. Could that happen again this year?
There's still a lot of basketball to play in the 2012 NCAA Tournament.
I'm not taking anything or any team for granted.