Expert NCAA tournament bracket picks: Del’s 2012 March Madness selections
It’s that time of the year again — the time when every Tom, Dick, and Harry who has no idea what they’re talking about gets to play expert for a few days. Those few days would be the ones leading up to the NCAA Tournament. After the first round of games, most of us usually feel pretty dejected and stupid. But hey, it’s only Wednesday. Most picks aren’t due until Thursday at noon, so keep your heads up for now. As for filling out those brackets, Del is here to give you as much guidance as possible. Here are Del’s NCAA tournament picks, with limited analysis and a championship game prediction after the bracket.
For the championship game, I have Kansas over Kentucky. As you can see, I’ve gone with mostly safe picks for the early rounds. Some people feel as though they should pick a certain amount of upsets because upsets are inevitable every year. While that’s true, it’s hardly that cut and dry. If one No. 12 seed beats a No. 5 seed every year, that doesn’t necessarily mean you should pick one 12-5 upset. Your odds of missing on that game are far greater than hitting. Enough preaching about the method.
In the South region, I’m riding everyone’s favorite championship to the Final Four and title game. Kentucky is the most popular pick to cut down the nets this year, and for good reason. The Wildcats are the most talented team in the country, but they could face the same problem they have every year — youth. Anthony Davis leads the Wildcats as a freshman. It seems like Calipari’s teams are always led by a freshman or two, and that tends to haunt them in the long run. In addition to that, Kentucky has a fairly difficult draw considering they’re the No. 1 overall seed. Connecticut is an 8-seed for a reason, but if they get past Iowa State they wouldn’t exactly be an easy draw for the Wildcats. UConn is still loaded with talent and has played well since Jim Calhoun returned. If they advance beyond the first round, they could create problems for Calipari and company. If nothing else, Kentucky could come out of their region pretty worn down.
Elsewhere in the South, I’m not high on Duke, per usual. They live and die on the three-point line and that typically doesn’t lead to success in March. If the Blue Devils can’t knock down threes, they’ll be in trouble early on. I wouldn’t be surprised if they lost sooner than I have them going down.
The popular pick in the West region is Missouri, which is arguably the most talented offensive team in the country. In my opinion, this region could be the most loaded. I could easily envision Louisville, Michigan State, Missouri, or Marquette reaching the Final Four. The former two have experience on their side while the latter two can get up and down the court in a hurry and be dangerous in transition. This could be — and should be — the year that Missouri gets over the hump and finally reaches a Final Four. They could be the hungriest team in the tournament.
Over in the East region, Syracuse losing Fab Melo has obviously shaken everything up. There’s an outside chance the loss could turn the Orange into a sleeper and work to their advantage if teams take them lightly, but I don’t see that happening. They were a terrible rebounding team with Melo in the paint, and he is their leading rebounder. Syracuse should get dominated on the glass as the tournament goes on, and I expect that to come back and bite them against a Vanderbilt team that disappoints every year but is clicking at the right time.
Finally, I took Kansas to emerge from the Midwest region. North Carolina could easily reach the Final Four and win the entire thing, but the health of John Henson is a huge question mark. Henson is going to play with a wrist injury, but you have to wonder if he’ll be playing at 100 percent health. Kansas is one of the most consistent teams in the tournament and is in the top-10 in both offense and defense in the nation. They have the coaching, experience, and balance to win it all and I believe they will.