2012 NCAA Tournament Predictions: First Four

March 13, 2012

I said this last year (and the year prior to last) before I made my predictions public, and I will say it again this year; these are my opinions on the NCAA Tournament. I cannot guarantee that taking my advice on anything will help you win your respective office pool or any other bracket game you may play. The truth is, a lot of it comes down to luck and circumstance, and no matter how much I analyze and stress over the matchups, I am not really giving myself (or anyone else who decides to listen to me) a true advantage over anyone else. Although I have finally won a bracket pool with more than five people in it, my argument still holds water. With that being said, I do this purely out of joy for the game, and out of hope that I can stir up conversation between anyone who reads my work.

I have come to the conclusion that the above paragraph will make an appearance on one new article per year. Who cares? Are you even reading this paragraph? I said something about a hot chick picking games better than me last year, so here’s a picture of a hot chick so I can tell you what you missed by not reading this entire article.

Enough of that…here are my predictions and some other interesting things about the first round games of the 2012 NCAA Tournament.

First Round Games to Watch

#14 Iona vs. #14 BYU (Tues, following Western Kentucky vs. Mississippi Valley State game)

There was some grumbling from fans (namely, Drexel Dragons and Washington Huskies fans) about the Gaels making the tournament as an at large, but that is because the majority of fans didn’t even know that Iona was a school until Sunday night. The Gaels are a very talented team, and they deserved to make the NCAA Tournament. Senior point guard Scott Machado leads the nation in assists and is on the Naismith watch list, while fellow senior Michael Glover pours in 18 points and grabs nine rebounds per game.

The Gaels are going up against a relatively young squad in BYU, although the Cougars are making their sixth consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament. A key matchup to watch in this game will be Machado against freshman point guard Matt Carlino, a transfer from UCLA. Carlino will have the tough task of guarding Machado, and more importantly, cutting off easy dishes to the post. I believe that the winner of this game will have the best chance of the first round participants to make some noise once the tournament is whittled down to 64.

#16 Vermont vs. #16 Lamar (Wed, 6:30 PM ET)

The winner of this game gets the pleasure of taking on North Carolina in the second round, but that doesn’t mean that these teams won’t be excited to play in Dayton. Lamar is coached by Pat Knight (Bob Knight’s son) and made a name for himself near the end of February by calling out his seniors, calling them the “worst group of seniors I’ve ever been associated with”. I’m sure he’d like to burn the evidence of that, now.

Lamar gets a very difficult first round game against Vermont, who played several tournament teams tough at the beginning of the season and has lost just one game since January 16th. The Catamounts have been in this position before, and know that the real fun comes when you play on Friday and the entire country is watching. Expect them to be focused and come out strong, which could take the Cardinals by surprise, which are playing in their first NCAA Tournament game since 2000.

Team That Could Make a Run


The Golden Bears didn’t really impress anyone when they were ranked at the beginning of the season, but there is a good chance that the team will come into the tournament with a chip on their shoulder. California is one of only two teams from the Pac-12 to make the tournament, but has arguably the most talent in the conference. They are an unselfish team that spreads the ball around nicely, and four players average double-digits in scoring.

The Pac-12 didn’t get a whole lot of love this year, and right so, but California is a team that could sneak up on opponents if they aren’t careful. The Golden Bears have two very winnable games in front of them if they manage to beat South Florida on Wednesday night.

My Picks

#16 Mississippi Valley State over #16 Western Kentucky

#14 Iona over #14 BYU

#16 Vermont over #16 Lamar

#12 California over #12 South Florida

– K. Becks

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