12 March 2012

2012 NCAA Tournament: Potential 2nd Round Upsets

Moments like when a three from Demonte Harper lifted the thirteenth seeded Morehead State Eagles over the fourth seeded Louisville Cardinals in last year's tournament are what we live for in March Madness (and I correctly picked that game, by the way). Where could we potentially see upsets in the second round of this year's tournament? Here are some speculative thoughts.

East Region:

(5) Vanderbilt vs. (12) Harvard
The Commodores are a chic Final Four pick, mostly due to their run in the SEC tournament that culminated yesterday in a victory over Kentucky for the conference title. And while Vandy certainly has a lot of talent, NBA talent that is, they have been prone to major upsets before. The Crimson play as you would think an Ivy League, really slow, which could negate some on Vandy's offensive skill and make it a low scoring game. Plus this Crimson team is battle tested club, having played many power conference teams this season. Won't be an easy game for Kevin Stallings' crew.

(4) Wisconsin vs. (13) Montana
The problem with the Badgers is that they cannot score and play really slow, meaning they'll probably whoever they play in the game, and their offense is too Jordan Taylor-centric. The Grizzlies have not really played anyone this season but they have some solid shooters and the big guy, Derek Selvig, can bang down low and is an underrated passer. Plus with the game in Albuquerque, Montana may have a little more of a homefield advantage.

(6) Cincinnati vs. (11) Texas
Cinncinati may be a tremendous defensive team and is terrific on the boards but they shoot like they do, which is terrible. Texas is basically J'Covan Brown and he scores a quarter of the Longhorns' points. If he can get hot, which he can, they could steal this one in Nashville.

(3) Florida State vs. (14) St. Bonaventure
The Seminoles are similar to Vanderbilt as a conference tournament title run has many folks thinking of a Final Four run for Leonard Hamilton's club. As with every Hamilton team, they are awesome on defense but there are some concerns on offense as they can be streaky shooting the ball and have a propensity for turnovers. The Bonnies come in very hot as well with a strong run in the A-10 tourney has them here and they have a legitimate star in Andrew Nicholson, who is an absolute beast down low.

Midwest Region:

(4) Michigan vs. (13) Ohio
This is the first round matchup the Wolverines really did not want. The Wolverines rely heavily on the three-point basket but don't really have much of a post presence so when they get cold, they could fall apart. The Bobcats are one of the elite teams in college basketball in guarding the threeball and they also tremendous in getting steals while holding onto the ball themselves. If John Beilein's team gets sloppy, forget it. Also, Ohio has a history somewhat of being a giant slayer, like when they beat Georgetown a couple years ago.

(3) Georgetown vs. (14) Belmont
Speaking of the Hoyas, for some reason John Thompson's team has a propensity for getting upset, and not in close games either. Since making the Final Four in 2007, they have only advanced past their initial game once and have been upset in their last three tournaments by a ten seed (Davidson in 2008), a thirteen seed (Ohio in 2010) and an eleven seed last year (VCU). Belmont is a veteran team, playing only exclusively upperclassmen, can score in bunches and gave Wisconsin a major scare a year ago.

South region:

(5) Wichita State vs. (12) VCU
The Shockers are a veteran, balanced team that is a legitimate contender to get to New Orleans. but last year's Cinderella could don the slippers again. Shaka Smart's Rams play similarly to last year's team as they play their patented "Havoc" defense which can cause a lot of turnovers and they rely big-time on the threeball, which they can make very well. But can this young club rekindle the magic from last year?

(4) Indiana vs. (13) New Mexico State
Tom Crean did great work in Bloomington this year and this Hoosiers team is very good, particularly on offense where they have a lot of balance and quality big guys. Losing their sixth man and backup point guard Verdell Jones III will hurt as he was a key part of this club and this team can really struggle on defense. The Aggies are really skilled on offense and can score in bundles as well as rebound very well. What is also key for Marvin Menzies' team is how good they are at getting to the charity stripe.

(3) Baylor vs. (14) South Dakota State
Everybody hates Baylor (and Chris) and people really do not like Scott Drew (I'm a fan). This Baylor is really talented, particularly in the paint, but they are very inconsistent and their star Percy Jones III tends to disappear and has a reputation for being soft. The Jackrabbits have a star in Nate Wolters who can fill up the scoreboard, even as he's not a great three-point shooter, although the team overall is good from downtown. They don't turn the ball over and have been playng good D but they have nothing inside.

Midwest region:

(5) New Mexico vs. (12) Long Beach State
I have gone on the record and state how much I love this UNM team but this is a really tough second round matchup. The 49ers have a staunch inside-outside tandem in Casper Ware and T.J. Robinson and are not scared of anyone, having played an ambitious out of conference slate, plus get to the free throw line very well.

(4) Louisville vs. (13) Davidson
Well Louisville was the exact same seed last year and, well I just hope you read the intro. People are going to overrate this team because of their Big East run but this is a good Cardinals team. But Davidson has played big schools tough, beating Kansas in Kansas City and led Duke in the second half, and they are a great free throw shooting team that has the size down low to bang.

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