NCAA Bracket 2012: 3 Teams That'll Have No Trouble Advancing
Upsets and Cinderella squads were bound to show themselves in the 2012 NCAA Tournament.
The No. 2-seeded Duke Blue Devils were beaten by No. 15 Lehigh, who lost in the following round by 12.
No. 2 Missouri got knocked off by No. 15 Norfolk State, who got blown out by 34 in the the third round.
The point being that no team is ever a lock to advance to the next round during March Madness.
But there are teams who have shown to be contenders for a National Championship during the tournament and look poised to succeed to the Elite Eight.
Here are three teams that should advance to the next round this week:
The Kentucky Wildcats are many people's favorites to win the NCAA tournament this year, including mine.
Kentucky will square off against the No. 4-seeded Indiana Hoosiers at 9:45 p.m. EST this Friday night after a convincing 16-point victory over No. 8 Iowa St on March 17.
The Wildcats have shown no signs of slowing down during the tournament—ousting No. 16 Western Kentucky in the second round by 15—then taking care of Iowa St. by double-digits in the third round to advance to the Sweet 16.
Freshman Anthony Davis has led the way for Kentucky, posting 16 points, nine rebounds and seven blocks in the second round and 15 points, 12 rebounds and five assists in the third round.
Although they're young—they start three freshman and two sophomores—the Wild Cats should have no problem moving past Indiana and advancing to the Elite Eight.
Four out of the five Kentucky starters averaged double-digit scoring during the regular season, with Teague finishing a mere 0.1 points short of reaching the mark.
Davis will be too much on the inside for Cody Zeller and the Hoosiers. Indiana shot better than 50-percent from the floor and still almost lost to VCU, who shot 9-30 (.300) from beyond the arc.
Kentucky will advance to the Elite Eight on Friday night with their eyes on a National Championship.
After live blogging the Baylor game on Saturday night, I'm now well aware of who Brady Heslip is, and Xavier should be too.
Heslip helped the Bears sink Colorado's chances of advancing in the tournament by draining nine threes last Saturday night and finishing with 27 points.
To go along with 10.3 PPG, Heslip shot better than 45-percent from three-point range during the regular season and is shooting 14-22 (.636) from three during the tournament.
All five of Baylor's starters average double-digit scoring and can beat you in a variety of ways.
Despite upsetting No. 7-seeded Michigan in the second round of the tournament, Xavier handled No. 15 Lehigh in the third round, but the game was a lot closer than meets the eye, as Lehigh actually led the Musketeers by four at halftime.
Senior center Kenny Frease was huge for Xavier in the third round, scoring 25 points and grabbing 12 rebounds to power the Musketeers past the Mountain Hawks.
But Frease will have a much more difficult time scoring against physical Baylor forwards Quincy Acy and Perry Jones III this Friday.
The action starts at 7:15 p.m. EST on Friday, March 23 for these two teams.
Xavier is a worthy opponent, but I see Baylor winning and going on to the Elite Eight.
Ohio St. required a collective effort last Saturday to edge the Gonzaga Bulldogs in the third round of the tournament.
Four Buckeyes starters scored at least 13 points, with Jared Sullinger and Deshaun Thomas leading the way with 18 each.
Sullinger is the motor for this Ohio St. team, who, when they get going, can be unstoppable.
But it's been sophomore forward DeShaun Thomas who has led the Buckeyes to the Sweet 16. Thomas scored a career-high 31 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in the second round against No. 15 seed Loyola, and coupled that with 18 points and seven rebounds—five of them being offensive—in the third round against Gonzaga.
This Thursday at 9:45 p.m. EST, Ohio St. will take on a Cincinnati Beatcats' squad that upset No. 3-seeded Florida State in the third round of the NCAA tournament.
But Cincinnati typically starts four guards, as their tallest starter—aside from 6-9 forward Yancy Gates—is 6-4 guard Sean Kilpatrick.
That said, Ohio St. is both bigger and better than Cincinnati, giving them the edge in this game.
I think the height and physicality of Sullinger and Thomas will be too much for the Bearcats inside, and Ohio St. will dance into the Elite Eight.
For your printable bracket for the 2012 NCAA tournament, click here.
Follow Pete Schauer on Twitter @Pete_Schauer