The Staff’s 2012 NCAA Tournament Picks: First and Second Round

The 2012 NCAA Tournament made history in the first two rounds—will the trend continue?

The 2012 NCAA Tournament made history in the first two rounds—will the trend continue?

Matt Brownsword

The 2012 NCAA Tournament is sure to provide great basketball entertainment.

 

This is the compilation of nine journalism staff writers: Mike Fortin, Dan Aldridge, Bobby Rabaioli, Jack Stedman, Peter Hoegler, Michael Greulich, Caroline Feeley, Bailey Tudor, and yours truly, Matt Brownsword. Each of these writers has a bracket that is linked below, and in order to access the bracket one must log in to ESPN using the username: march_madness324 and password: password. Each staff writer asks that you look at their individual bracket but do not edit, tempted as you may be. Thank you, and enjoy.

UPSET ALERT:

SOUTH

Pete: NEW MEXICO STATE (13) OVER INDIANA (4) on THURSDAY 2012 AT 9:45 PM, CBS

The Aggies have a chance to knock off the Hoosiers in an upset.

Although the Hoosiers are a great shooting team, they have no tournament experiance and they are still very young. Indiana already lacked quality depth before the loss of Verdell Jones III, who was lost for the season after suffering an ACL injury during the Big Ten Tournament. Size could be an issue, particularly against the huge Aggies (three players over 6-10). Indiana may be the favorite in a year from now, but this year’s team cannot hang around with the Aggie’s better size and experiance, NM St 80, Indiana 75

Bob: NEW MEXICO STATE (13) OVER  INDIANA (4)  on THURSDAY at 9:45 PM on CBS

With the loss of senior Guard Verdell Jones III, Indiana is looking at a potential upset.  Indiana will now look for leadership from freshman forward Cody Zeller.  New Mexico State is one of the most potent offenses in all of college basketball, and senior forward Wendell McKines will lead New Mexico State to a potential win.

Bailey: COLORADO (11) OVER UNLV (6) on THURSDAY at 9:57 on truTV

The Buffaloes came out strong in the PAC-12 Conference Tournament, beating the rest of the field to win the conference tournament. The Running Rebels did have a quality win early in the year against North Carolina, but this team is not the same. Expect Colorado to at least provide a tough test for UNLV.

WEST

Dan: MEMPHIS (8) OVER MICHIGAN STATE (1) on FRIDAY at 6:50 on TBS

Will Barton and Memphis hope to take out St. Louis and Michigan St.
Although Memphis has to get by St. Louis first, they will be a tough matchup for Michigan State, provided they beat LIU Brooklyn, whose senior leadership spurred them to a Big 10 title. Watch out for Memphis sophomore Will Barton, the Conference-USA player of the year.  

Caroline: LONG BEACH STATE (12) OVER NEW MEXICO (5) on THURSDAY at 4:10 on TBS

Long Beach has played extremely well the second half of their season, and has extreme potential to go farther then expected in the tournament.  The 49ers’ 6 foot 8 forward, T. J. Robinson, is a very good rebounder, averaging 10 a game, and is a strong defensive presence underneath.  The 49ers also have an excellent senior guard, Casper Ware, who is able to put points on the board, averaging 17.4 points this season.  The Lobos do match up well with Long Beach, but I think that the underdogs will be able to come out victorious in a very close game versus a good New Mexico team.

EAST

Jack: MONTANA (13) OVER WISCONSIN (4) on THURSDAY at 2:10 on TNT

The Grizzlies are winners of 14 straight, hoping they can continue their streak deep into the tournament. The offense is led by guards Will Cherry and Kareem Jamar, who lead the team in scoring, assists, and minutes played; however, the key to this game is Derek Selvig. The versatile 7’0″ senior provides length and veteran leadership, keys to any team’s tourney success. Able to block shots and score from three-point range, Wisconsin will have a hard time containing him.

Mike GreulichTEXAS (11) OVER CINCINNATI (6) on FRIDAY at 12:15 PM on CBS

J'Covan Brown and Texas hope to upset Cincinnati.

Despite the fact that Texas has yet to defeat any great teams this year, they still have a chance to pull the upset.  The Cincinnati Bearcats have been an awful shooting team all year, only making 42 percent of their shots from the floor.  The Longhorns, lead by J’Covan Brown, have both the skills and the power to make this a very interesting game.  With both teams so evenly matched, the winner is going to be decided by what team can hit shots in clutch time, and with Texas hitting over 70 percent of their freethrows, the Longhorns have a good chance of advancing to the round of 32.

MIDWEST

Matt: NORTH CAROLINA STATE (11) OVER SAN DIEGO STATE (6) on FRIDAY at 12:40 PM on truTV

The NC state Wolfpack was a bubble team entering the NCAA tournament, but their strong play in the ACC Conference Tournament earned them a number 11 seed. The Wolfpack are peaking at the right time—a win over 10-seeded Virginia and a two-point loss to top-seeded North Carolina show that the Wolfpack has what it takes to hang in with the top teams. CJ Leslie is a tall big man with athleticism who can put up points, giving his Wolfpack a big advantage over the Mountain West Conference tournament champion,  San Diego State.

Mike Fortin: OHIO (13) OVER MICHIGAN (4) on FRIDAY at 7:20 PM on TNT

Ohio guard DJ Cooper can really cause problems for Michigan.   Being able to score and pass the ball, he can really open the floor for Ohio shooters.  Michigan, who lives on the 3 ball, could be an early knockout if they don’t control tempo and don’t stop stud guard DJ Cooper.

GAMES TO WATCH:

SOUTH

Pete: UNLV (6) AGAINST COLORADO (11)  on THURSDAY at 9:57  on truTV

The UNLV Rebels enter the tournament just 5-5 in their past 10 games, but it’s important to remember this is the same team that beat North Carolina early in the season and– with Mike Moser, Oscar Bellfield and Chace Stanback — is a very talented team to boot. On the other hand, Andre Roberson (lead conference with 11.1 rebonds per game) and the Colorado Buffaloes won four in a row to capture the automatic bid in that train wreck of the Pac-12. It’s going to be an interesting game to watch, but I picked UNLV in a nail biter.

Bob: VCU (12) AGAINST WICHITA STATE (5) on THURSDAY at 7:15 on CBS

VCU hopes to repeat its final four run from last year.

Everybody watch out.  This game includes last years Cinderella team against maybe one of the most underrated teams in the country.  VCU  is a very young team with potent offensive forwards and guards.  If they were to pull out the upset, then they would need to shoot very good from the field.  In Wichita St.’s opinion, they can beat anyone. Wichita St. has great depth for that they have over 6 players averaging over 20 mpg.  A look forward to a very close game, but Wichita St. pulls this one out with a win.

Bailey: NOTRE DAME (7) AGAINST XAVIER (10) on FRIDAY at 9:45 on CBS

Notre Dame and Xavier are two teams that are usually in the field of 64 and play the season just to get trophies and accumulate a higher seeding. This year, both teams had to fight for the right to enter the tournament—giving them a chip on their shoulder to prove that they each belong. Watch for each team to fight hard to win this seven-ten matchup.

WEST

Dan: MEMPHIS(8) AGAINST SAINT LOUIS(9) on FRIDAY at 6:50 on TBS and FLORIDA(7) AGAINST VIRGINIA(10) on FRIDAY at 2:10 on TNT

Conference USA tournament champion Memphis wins in a close game against Saint Louis, while Florida holds off Virginia in another great second round game.

Caroline: SAINT LOUIS (9) AGAINST MEMPHIS (8) on FRIDAY at 6:50 on TBS

Memphis has much more talent on their roster and is more athletic, but Saint Louis has arguably one of the best coaches in the country – Rick Majerus – which explains their excellent defense.  Memphis’ Will Barton, averaging 18 points a game, poses a challenge for Saint Louis, but if the Billikens play their usual though defense, the Tigers may struggle to run on the offensive end.  Over all it is going to be a very close, hard fought game, but Memphis will come out with the win, due to their discipline and explosiveness.

EAST

Jack:  HARVARD (12) AGAINST VANDERBILT (5) on THURSDAY at 4:40 on TNT

The Crimson take on the 'Harvard of the South' (Vanderbilt) in an intriguing first-round matchup.

The historic 5 seed vs. 12 seed matchup in the East comes in the form of Vanderbilt and Harvard. Vanderbilt has had early round struggles in the recent past, and Harvard is playing in its first tournament since 1946. Harvard success this year has come from seasoned coach Tommy Amaker and the formidable frontcourt of Kyle Casey and Keith Wright. Harvard, though, needs to contain the Vandy trio of John Jenkins, Jeffery Taylor, and Festus Ezeli, who all average double digits in points (20, 16, and 10 respectively). The key to this game is Casey and Wright of the Crimson battling Ezeli and Lance Goulbourne of the Commodores under the boards. If Harvard can do enough damage with their big men, they have a good chance of giving the well-rounded Vanderbilt team a tough test.

Mike: GONZAGA (7) AGAINST WEST VIRGINIA (10) on THURSDAY at 7:20PM on TNT

As one of the most interesting match-ups in the East, Gonzaga vs. West Virginia will definitely be a game worth watching.  The winner of the game really depends on which Gonzaga basketball team shows up.  When the Zags are hot, they can contest any team in the tournament.  It is if they when they go cold that they start to run into trouble. West Virginia, lead by their two seniors Kevin Jones and Darryl Bryant, definitely have the skills to win, and with the game being right in their back yard, they will also have the fan support.

MIDWEST

Matt: KANSAS (2) AGAINST DETROIT (15) on FRIDAY at 9:57 on truTV

Detroit has a chance to be the fifth team to knock off a two seed in the first round.

The second-seeded Kansas Jayhawks take on the fifteenth-seeded Detroit Titans in a rare high-anticipation two-fifteen matchup. Kansas struggled against Baylor in the Big 12 tournament while Detroit took the Horizon league tournament championship, earning an automatic bid to the tournament. Kansas’  Thomas Robinson has been their standout player, but a Bill Self Kansas team has been prone to upsets in early rounds; a Detroit win in the last scheduled game of the first round could make history.

Mike Fortin: NC STATE (11) AGAINST SAN DIEGO STATE (6) on FRIDAY at 12:40 PM on truTV

With two evenly matched teams, this one will come down to the wire.  With almost identical stats, expect this game to be a close one.  An impressive 4-0 record in overtime shows that SDSU might prevail in this one.