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March Madness 2012 Bracket Preview

Fab Melo Is This Year's First Bracketbuster (Getty Images)

Here’s a region-by-region look as you all fill out your brackets. May the madness begin!

South Region

I don’t see any way in which Kentucky does not win this region. They’re set up to face UConn in the second round. While it will be an interesting game, it shouldn’t be too difficult for them.

In the rest of the bracket, a deceptively good Wichita State team will play a VCU team that people are certain to overrate. This game could go either way, but the determining factor could very well be Wichita State anger at the masses picking against them as a five seed. Then they’ll play Indiana because, honestly, New Mexico State doesn’t have a chance. The Shockers should win there as well, because Indiana is always vulnerable. If they don’t though, that will set up a rematch of Kentucky’s only first loss of the season (damn you Vanderbilt!).

The bottom of the bracket looks favorable for Duke, but they’ll probably be upset. They should play Xavier after they beat Lehigh, and despite a down year for the Musketeers, they have an upset in them. Watch out.

Meanwhile, I’ve heard multiple sources claim that South Dakota State is a good upset pick against Baylor. This is because… they have NBA prospect Nate Wolters? Have you seen Perry Jones III? Baylor’s soft, but not that soft. They should get past SDSU, where they’ll have UNLV. Another easy win will have them against Xavier, who will beat them before losing to Kentucky in the Elite Eight.

From there, Kentucky wins the championship. Easy enough, right?

West Region

Looking at this bracket, I feel like all of these teams are going to get upset, which is most assuredly not possible. Given Tom Izzo’s track record, I suppose I have the most faith in Michigan State, but just barely. It’s never a good idea to go with a 1 seed you don’t really believe in though. I feel comfortable saying they’ll win their first two games, but that’s it.
On the bottom of the bracket, I see Florida upsetting Mizzou. Welcome to the SEC! Between Billy Donovan’s tournament track record, Florida’s super play against Kentucky in the SEC tournament, and the Tigers’ inability to effectively slow the game down, they’ll get knocked out prematurely. From there, Florida will play Marquette, because Murray State’s only going to win one game. I’d like to see them win more, but their record is largely a function of their schedule. The Golden Eagles will probably win, but not by much.

On the other end of the bracket, Michigan State could wind up playing New Mexico, Long Beach State, Louisville, or Davidson. I would feel equally comfortable picking any of these teams, because Louisville hasn’t been quite right this year. Flip some coins, I don’t know. Whatever happens, Marquette’s playing someone. At this point, I don’t see the Golden Eagles losing to any of those teams. In fact, I believe they will win by more than they did over Florida. Then, of course, they’ll lose to Kentucky.

East Region

Going into Selection Sunday, the only certainty I had was that Kentucky would beat Syracuse in the title game. I was a clean slate with the other 66 teams, because trying to pre-plan upsets is always futile. Now, with news that Fab Melo will not play in the tournament, that certainty has been shattered. Damn you, you fantastically-named Brazilian! However, I think both Harvard and Montana are going to win, which will mean Syracuse will have to play the winner of a 12-13 game in the third round. What luck for them. Three wins is totally respectable for them in this situation.

Fab Melo’s absence opens the region up for Ohio State. The bottom half of this bracket will be almost entirely chalk, with the exception of West Virginia (who’s basically playing a home game) over Gonzaga. That means Ohio State is going to play a broken Syracuse team. Without Fab Melo, Jared Sullinger will be able to have himself quite a game. The Buckeyes will win this handily.

Midwest Region

Almost everything here is going to be chalk, with two exceptions. Belmont’s going to beat Georgetown, because there needs to be a big upset somewhere and the Bruins almost beat Duke at the beginning of the year. Our other exception? Alabama is going to upset UNC in the second round. The Tar Heels likes to get out and run, but Alabama is going to be able to disrupt their running game. They are a fantastic defensive team and can slow down anyone. They’ve only given up more than 70 points three times this year. The last such occasion was two months ago, when they lost to Kentucky by 6. Kendall Marshall’s going to have trouble getting the assists he so desires. That means Kansas is going to waltz into the Final Four. Who’s getting in their way? San Diego State? Temple? Michigan? Please. The Jayhawks will then, of course, get knocked out by Ohio State.

Good luck with your brackets everyone!

@DanSpritz

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