Michigan State didn’t look like a #1 seed early in the season. The Big Ten was the best basketball conference in the country, but at times, they look very week. Could Long Beach State or Iona pull off upsets in this region? There are a lot of underdogs that could sneak up on the top seeds. Colorado State, Murray State, and Florida all have a shot at being in the Final Four. I doubt that many will have this region as “chalk,” when they fill out their brackets.
#1 Michigan State (27-7) vs. #16 LIU Brooklyn (25-8) – After the aircraft carrier game, I didn’t think Michigan State was going to have a very good season. Draymond Green has put this team on his back and the senior is looking like an elite NBA prospect. The casual fan has no idea what LIU Brooklyn even stands for and it would be a miracle if they were to stay withing 20 points of the Spartans.
Predicted Winner: #1 Michigan State Spartans
#8 Memphis (26-8) vs. #9 Saint Louis (25-7) When Rick Majerus is coaching a team, you can never count them out of the NCAA Tournament. Memphis has Will Barton, but they lack depth. Saint Louis has a nice perimeter game with Kwamain Mitchell and Cody Ellis that I really like. The Billikens are a contender to upset Michigan State in the second-round. I like the make up of this team and this will be a fun game to watch.
Predicted Winner: #9 Saint Lois Billikens
#5 New Mexico (27-6) vs. #12 Long Beach State (25-8) Out of this entire region, this is the pick that I had to think the most about. New Mexico has head coach Steve Alford, who is in the “White Boy Hall of Fame,” and I have to take that into consideration. I looked at their schedule and their only marquee wins were against San Diego State and UNLV…they beat them each three times. It is incredibly hard to beat a team three times in a season. Long Beach State was one of my upset favorites going into the tournament. They had some nice marquee wins against Pitt and Xavier. They have the underdog tag and will be a very motivated team. The nation will the team’s leading scorer, 5’10 guard Casper Ware. I have to pick Long Beach State in a close contest.
Predicted Winner – #12 Long Beach State 49ers
#4 Louisville (26-9) vs. #13 Davidson (25-7) – Stephen Curry isn’t walking through that door, but De’Mon Brooks and Jake Cohen are pretty darn good. This Davidson team is much different, they score in the paint. Louisville had a strong early season schedule, but once the Big East season started, they had some bad losses. They are a very inconsistent team, but the same could be said for most of the other Big East teams. Louisville will win this game, but they are vulnerable for an early-round upset.
Predicted Winner – #4 Louisville Cardinals
#6 Murray State (30-1) vs. #11 Colorado State (20-11) – It’s a shame that the NCAA tournament selection committee has to pair up two of my pre-tournament underdogs. An argument could be had that Murray State should be a higher seed, but their schedule was a bit light. Both of these teams have strong perimeter shooters, but lack size. If you’re going to compare back-courts, I like Murray State’s duo of Isaiah Canaan and Donte Poole. Murray State will win this contest, but they are vulnerable in later rounds. If they face a team with size, they will need a perfect perimeter game to squeak out a win.
Predicted Winner: #6 Murray State Racers
#3 Marquette (25-7) vs. #14 BYU/Iona – Before I predict this round, I am picking Iona over BYU in the play-in game. Scott Machado is an NBA prospect and he is very impressive to watch. Teams will try to double-team him, but Mike Glover and Lamont Jones are very talented. Saying all of that, I like tham against Marquette as well. Marquette’s Darius Johnson-Odom and Jae Crowder are very good, but they lost nearly every big game that they were in this year. The Big East teams are so inconsistent that it is hard to pick most of them going very far in this tournament.
Play-In Game Winner: Iona Gales
Predicted Winner: #14 Iona Gaels
#7 Florida (23-10) vs. #10 Virginia (22-9) – If you went on talent alone, Florida would dominate Virginia, since the Gators have five players who average double-digits in points. Virginia’s offense only has one hope, Mike Scott. If he has an off-night, Florida will eat them alive. I’m looking for Patric Young, Kenny Boynton, and Bradley Beal for have a big tournament for Florida.
Predicted Winner: #7 Florida Gators
#2 Missouri (30-4) vs. #15 Norfolk State (25-9) – Missouri have a laundry list of marquee wins, inside and outside of the conference. The duo of Marcus Denmon and Ricardo Ratcliffe will be a force in this tournament. They will not have any problems with Norfolk State in the first-round. The second-round game against Florida will have a lot of future NBA talent in it. That game will be amazing to watch, but Missouri should win that game in a close one.
Predicted Winner: #2 Missouri Tigers
White Boy’s 2012 NCAA Tournament Coverage
2012 NCAA Tournament: South Region Picks
2012 NCAA Tournament: East Region Picks
2012 NCAA Tournament: Midwest Region Picks
2012 NCAA Tournament: 13 Possible Upsets
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