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March Madness 2012: What Top Experts' Brackets Look Like Now

Gil ImberAnalyst IIMarch 25, 2012

March Madness 2012: What Top Experts' Brackets Look Like Now

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    The 2012 NCAA tournament, like many before, has had its fair share of upsets and surprises. From No. 15 Lehigh's 75-70 victory over No. 2 Duke to Louisville's improbable run to the Final Four, this year's March Madness has provided a generous dose of exciting college basketball.

    As is tradition for every year's collegiate playoff, experts from ESPN to NBC and CBS to TNT released their own predictions for this year's tournaments via the traditional NCAA tournament bracket.

    From Bilas to Vitale and Rondo to Obama, this is a look at how the brackets of top experts and celebrities have fared in the 2012 NCAA tournament.

Jay Bilas

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    Affiliation: ESPN

    Experience: Former Player and Assistant Coach, Duke University

    Bracket Status: 4-of-8 Elite Eight Teams, 1-of-2 Final Four (Saturday), Kentucky and UNC (Sunday), 41-of-58 Correct Picks (71 percent), 88.8 percentile on ESPN.


    As a former player and coach with Duke, Bilas unsurprisingly had placed the Blue Devils through to the Elite Eight before losing to Kentucky in the South Region final.

    Instead, with Duke losing to Lehigh and Xavier defeating Notre Dame in ND's first tournament game (a team Bilas had playing in the Round of 32), Bilas is hoping that Kentucky will defeat Baylor and run the table.

    South Score: 7-of-14 Correct Picks


    Over in Phoenix, Rick Pitino's Cardinals threw Bilas' bracket for a loop, as did Billy Donovan's Gators, a team Bilas projected would lose to Missouri in the Round of 32 (Missouri never made it there, having been defeated by Norfolk State in the Round of 64).

    In the end, all that adds up to an Elite Eight matchup featuring neither of Bilas' picks, meaning an incorrect Final Four selection out of the West.

    West Score: 10-of-15 Correct Picks


    With a traditional No. 1 versus No. 2 matchup making it through to the Midwest Regional Final, Bilas fared well by sticking with the UNC Tar Heels and Kansas: His only miscues were not believing in Ohio and having NC State exit the dance one game too soon.

    Midwest Score: 11-of-14 Correct Picks


    The East has been most the most kind region for Bilas, with Vanderbilt proving his only disappointment: Bilas picked Vanderbilt to lose to Ohio State in the Elite Eight; instead, the Commodores bowed out against Wisconsin in the Round of 32.

    East Score: 13-of-15 Correct Picks

Andy Katz

3 of 11

    Affiliation: ESPN

    Experience: Career Sportswriter

    Bracket Status: 5-of-8 Elite Eight Teams, 1-of-2 Final Four (Saturday), Kentucky and UNC (Sunday), 33-of-58 Correct Picks (57 percent), 63.2 percentile on ESPN.


    As a career sportswriter and one of ESPN's news-breakers, Andy Katz has built himself a respectable reputation and put together a respectable bracket.

    In choosing powerhouses Kentucky and Baylor to face off in the Elite Eight, Katz made a selection in line with many experts' choices. With Kentucky slated to win his national championship game, Katz has a bracket whose end result is shared by many analysts.

    South Score: 7-of-14 Correct Picks


    Louisville and Florida turned many analysts' brackets to absolute mush.

    Katz had selected No. 2 Missouri to defeat No. 1 Michigan State in the Elite Eight. As neither of those squads made it that far, this is yet another bracket that scored zero points in the West for the Elite Eight and Final Four rounds.

    West Score: 8-of-15 Correct Picks


    Though while Louisville and Florida have destroyed the West for many, UNC and Kansas have provided much-needed consistency in the Midwest Region.

    Katz picked UNC over Kansas in the Elite Eight, though like other expert brackets, his interior Midwest Bracket is chock full of red for failing to predict the Ohio and NC State upset runs.

    Midwest Score: 7-of-14 Correct Picks


    For Katz, Vanderbilt was a double-edged sword—on the one hand, his prediction of a Vandy upset over Syracuse never materialized, but on the other hand, this allowed Katz to pick Ohio State to win the region, securing his first correct Final Four team.

    East Score: 11-of-15 Correct Picks

Seth Davis

4 of 11

    Affiliation: Sports Illustrated

    Experience: Writer, went from writing for Duke University's newspaper to writing for SI

    Bracket Status: 4-of-8 Elite Eight Teams, 0-of-2 Final Four (Saturday), Kentucky and Kansas (Sunday), 41-of-58 Correct Picks (52 percent)


    What a shocker—writers don't necessarily have the upper hand at analytical mumbo-jumbo. Davis' bracket has been so apparently off-base that when he appeared on Turner Sports as an in-studio analyst, his co-anchors referred to his picks as the "kiss of death."

    South Score: 3-of-14 Correct Picks


    Like Bilas and many other bracketeers, Davis got the West Region's Elite Eight matchup entirely wrong. Still, upsets were generally confined to these limited cases over in Phoenix, meaning a higher bracket score for all.

    West Score: 9-of-15 Correct Picks


    In the Midwest, UNC and Kansas were locks to meet in the Elite Eight and Davis has predicted the Kansas upset just ahead of the Final Four.

    The USF, Ohio and NC State upsets were something Davis did not see coming; he instead believed Belmont would upset Georgetown, an incorrect choice.

    Midwest Score: 7-of-14 Correct Picks


    If Vanderbilt had stunned the basketball world and advanced to the Final Four, Seth Davis would be a genius. After knocking out Harvard, Davis thought the Commodores would beat Wisconsin, Syracuse and Ohio State.

    Instead, they lost to the Badgers.

    East Score: 11-of-15 Correct Picks

Colin Cowherd

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    Affiliation: ESPN

    Experience: Radio, Play-by-Play, Sports Talk and SportsNation

    Bracket Status: 5-of-8 Elite Eight Teams, 0-of-2 Final Four (Saturday), Kentucky and Kansas (Sunday), 36-of-58 Correct Picks (62 percent), 63.2 percentile on ESPN.


    Similar to Davis, the lesson appears to be that talking about sports has absolutely nothing to do with an ability to fill out a bracket—though if you've ever listened to Cowherd on radio or television, his low bracket score is hardly a surprise.

    In the South, Cowherd played it safe, which means he failed to predict VCU's upset over Wichita State, Colorado's defeat of UNLV, Xavier over Notre Dame and the more unpredictable Lehigh win over Duke.

    South Score: 7-of-14 Correct Picks


    We might have a theme here, as Cowherd also eliminated Louisville and Florida from contention well in advance of the Elite Eight or Final Four rounds.

    To his credit, those two teams and No. 15 Norfolk State's opening victory were Cowherd's only miscues in the West Region.

    West Score: 10-of-15 Correct Picks


    A unique region for Cowherd, in the Midwest the ESPN host got virtually every middle-of-the-bracket pick wrong, though he correctly picked UNC and Kansas to meet up in the Elite Eight with a Kansas victory to send the No. 2 seed to the Final Four.

    Midwest Score: 7-of-14 Correct Picks


    If Cowherd had stuck to his guns in picking the lower seed in the Round of 64, he would have been perfect: The East experienced no upsets in the opening round.

    As it is, Gonzaga, Cincinnati and Ohio State remain the only three teams Cowherd failed to select in the Round of 64, Round of 32 and Elite Eight, respectively.

    East Score: 12-of-15 Correct Picks

Michelle Beadle

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    Affiliation: ESPN

    Experience: SportsNation

    Bracket Status: 2-of-8 Elite Eight Teams, 0-of-2 Final Four (Saturday), Baylor and St. Mary's (Sunday), 32-of-60 Correct Picks (53 percent), 11.0 percentile on ESPN.


    Michelle Beadle got her start as a reporter with the San Antonio Spurs thanks to her father, an oil industry executive, and for reasons that will become painfully obvious, the above photograph in which Beadle is blocked out by a podium is entirely appropriate for this "expert" bracket.

    You don't want your face shown after landing yourself in the 11th percentile on your employer's website.

    It starts off innocently enough, with Beadle making an aggressive pick in choosing Baylor to advance to the Final Four. She correctly foresaw the VCU upset, though she gave VCU too much credit and penciled them through to the Elite Eight, defeating Kentucky in the Sweet 16 to get there.

    South Score: 11-of-14 Correct Picks


    Beadle picked No. 9 Saint Louis to advance to the Final Four with a BYU-over-Marquette upset in the region's opening round. Enough said.

    West Score: 7-of-15 Correct Picks


    At this point, things really start to unravel for this bracket, as besides getting UNC to the Sweet 16 by way of a defeat over Creighton in the Round of 32 and a USF upset of Temple in the Round of 64, nothing is accurate.

    According to this bracket, the Midwest Region's St. Mary's will play for the national championship on April 2.

    Midwest Score: 4-of-15 Correct Picks


    Beadle lists herself as a Houston Astros fan, which alone is a tough road to travel. Perhaps this bracket was jokingly assembled in some sort of sympathetic tribute to MLB's basement-dweller club.

    East Score: 10-of-15 Correct Picks

Dick Vitale

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    Affiliation: ESPN

    Experience: Former Coach, Rutgers and University of Detroit (NCAA) & NBA

    Bracket Status: 2-of-8 Elite Eight Teams, 0-of-2 Final Four (Saturday), Kentucky and UNC (Sunday), 31-of-58 Correct Picks (53 percent), 9.4 percentile on ESPN.


    As for Dick Vitale, the raspy-voiced broadcaster hopped aboard the Duke caravan, which knocked out his lower South Region. In the upper South, Vitale chose Kentucky to win it all, though giving too much credence to a Wichita State run to the Sweet 16 turned out to be an unwise move.

    South Score: 6-of-14 Correct Picks


    Out West, Vitale suffered from that same lower-region syndrome, this time choosing No. 2 Missouri to advance to the Final Four. In this region, Vitale suffered the same Louisville-Florida knockout blow that befell his co-experts.

    West Score: 8-of-15 Correct Picks


    Despite assuming Georgetown would make the Elite Eight by defeating Kansas, Vitale correctly picked UNC as the Midwest Region's second Elite Eight team, choosing the Tar Heels as NCAA tournament runners-up.

    Midwest Score: 8-of-14 Correct Picks


    The East may have been Vitale's best region had he not picked Vanderbilt to upset Syracuse and Florida State to upset Ohio State en route to a Final Four appearance.

    Instead, the Seminoles were knocked out after the Round of 32, which explains the bulk of Vitale's inaccuracies in the East.

    East Score: 9-of-15 Correct Picks

Rajon Rondo

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    Affiliation: Boston Celtics, NBA

    Experience: Player, Kentucky (NCAA) & NBA

    Bracket Status: 3-of-8 Elite Eight Teams, 0-of-2 Final Four (Saturday), Kentucky and Kansas (Sunday), 28-of-58 Correct Picks (48 percent), 9.4 percentile on ESPN.


    So we've seen how the media's "experts" have fared thus far, but how about some actual players—those who know the game firsthand?

    Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo filled out a bracket of his own, though his results weren't all that great (by comparison, the Lakers' Pau Gasol also scored in the 9.4 percentile on ESPN.com).

    Rondo's falling in the South came by way of Duke, whom he had picked to face Kentucky in the Elite Eight. To his credit, Rondo did chose his alma mater (Kentucky) to win it all. 

    South Score: 8-of-14 Correct Picks


    In the West Region, not even Rondo (nor Gasol nor LeBron James) predicted Louisville would defeat Florida in the Elite Eight: Rondo's Final Four choice out of the West was Missouri.

    West Score: 6-of-15 Correct Picks


    Rondo also picked No. 9 Alabama as a surprise upset over No. 1 UNC, ultimately selecting a Michigan versus Kansas showdown in the Elite Eight with Kansas advancing to the Final Four and, ultimately, the national championship game.

    Midwest Score: 6-of-14 Correct Picks


    As for the East Region, Rondo picked Wisconsin to beat Ohio State for a Final Four berth. He additionally jumped on the feel-good story bandwagon of Harvard, choosing the Ivy Leaguers to defeat Vanderbilt in the Round of 64.

    East Score: 8-of-15 Correct Picks

Dexter Fowler

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    Affiliation: Colorado Rockies, MLB

    Experience: Baseball Player (CF), MLB

    Bracket Status: 5-of-8 Elite Eight Teams, 0-of-2 Final Four (Saturday), Kentucky and Kansas (Sunday), 38-of-58 Correct Picks (66 percent), 66.8 percentile on ESPN.


    How about baseball? Surely, no bracket can be worse than Rajon Rondo's.

    Rockies center fielder Dexter Fowler filled out his bracket for ESPN, correctly predicting a Kentucky versus Baylor Elite Eight in the South, with Kentucky going on to win it all.

    As long as you don't look at Fowler's picks involving Duke and Xavier, it's a fine region. 

    South Score: 10-of-14 Correct Picks


    The Rockies play in the NL West, so we should expect a strong West Region showing from Fowler, right? Just don't tell coaches Pitino and Donovan.

    Other than choosing the Spartans to win the West, Fowler's miscues involved No. 2 Missouri and No. 15 Norfolk State and a Florida versus Marquette contest.

    West Score: 9-of-15 Correct Picks


    If Ohio and USF didn't win their Round of 64 matchups, Fowler's Midwest Region had a chance to be virtually perfect, assuming Michigan would have gone on to defeat Temple.

    Midwest Score: 10-of-14 Correct Picks


    A native of Georgia who received several collegiate offers from Florida schools, Fowler gave Florida State too much credit in the East Region, setting up a Syracuse versus Florida State Elite Eight that painted a lot of red in the lower East.

    Fowler's national championship runner-up was Syracuse.

    East Score: 9-of-15 Correct Picks

Jim Furyk

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    Affiliation: PGA

    Experience: Golfer, PGA Tour Player of the Year, 2010; U.S. Open Winner, 2003

    Bracket Status: 7-of-8 Elite Eight Teams, 1-of-2 Final Four (Saturday), Kentucky and Kansas (Sunday), 41-of-58 Correct Picks (71 percent), 98.8 percentile on ESPN.


    So if baseball brackets are better than basketball brackets, then a sport with even less constant activity should theoretically have the best bracket, right?

    Enter Jim Furyk, a professional golfer who currently possesses a bracket that ranks in the 98.8 percentile on ESPN's Tournament Challenge and is even better than Bilas.

    Furyk started out with a ho-hum South Region, correctly predicting every result from the Sweet 16 onward, save for Duke's appearance in that round. 

    South Score: 9-of-14 Correct Picks


    Furyk had a hunch Louisville would upset Michigan State and that hunch proved to be very valuable. Although he still sent Missouri to the Final Four, his upper West Region is all green, much like his shots from the fairway.

    West Score: 11-of-15 Correct Picks


    Ohio sure gave folks a lot of trouble this tournament season, and Furyk was no exception. Still, anytime a bracketeer successfully picks an Elite Eight matchup, that translates to many bracket points.

    Midwest Score: 9-of-14 Correct Picks


    Furyk correctly predicted Ohio State would defeat Syracuse to advance to the Final Four, misstepping just three times earlier in the East Region with Vanderbilt, Florida State and West Virginia.

    East Score: 12-of-15 Correct Picks

Barack Obama

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    Affiliation: President of the United States of America

    Experience: Politician: Senator from Illinois, US President

    Bracket Status: 6-of-8 Elite Eight Teams, 1-of-2 Final Four (Saturday), Kentucky and UNC (Sunday), 42-of-58 Correct Picks (72 percent), 98.4 percentile on ESPN.


    After a dismal past two years—as far as bracketology is concerned—President Barack Obama's 2012 bracket is a rebound and a look back at his first bracket as President, when Obama chose UNC to win it all (and they did).

    Indeed, his 98.4 percentile score is second to just Jim Furyk of the experts and celebrities profiled.

    In the South, Obama fell like many others in selecting Duke to the Sweet 16, though he came back in the Elite Eight with a Kentucky versus Baylor showdown.

    President Obama has Kentucky losing to UNC in the national championship game.

    South Score: 11-of-14 Correct Picks


    In picking Missouri to represent the West in the Final Four, Obama's bracket mirrored many others in incorrectly predicting a Michigan State versus Missouri Elite Eight matchup.

    Obama had knocked Louisville out of the tournament after the Round of 32, while he had eliminated Florida in the Round of 64.

    West Score: 7-of-15 Correct Picks


    The President found success in the Midwest, making only three incorrect selections: Obama incorrectly chose Temple over USF, Michigan over Ohio and Michigan over Temple.

    Midwest Score: 11-of-14 Correct Picks


    Obama's best region, the East, featured just two incorrect picks: Cincy losing to Florida State and West Virginia defeating Gonzaga.

    East Score: 13-of-15 Correct Picks

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