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2012 NCAA Tournament Predictions

March 9, 2012 by staff 

2012 NCAA Tournament Predictions, We’re still a couple days away from Selection Sunday, but as of right now we have a pretty good idea of which teams are going to be No. 1 seeds in the tournament.

Nothing will be set in stone until the conference tournaments are all wrapped up, but ESPN’s Joe Lunardi and Jerry Palm of CBSSports.com both agree that North Carolina, Kansas, Syracuse and Kentucky would all be No. 1 seeds if the tournament were to start today.

Makes sense. These four teams are right up at the top of the national rankings and are widely recognized as the top four teams in the country. Each of the four will loom large once the Big Dance gets underway.

They can’t all win it, though, and some of them are bound to bow out early. We don’t know what kind of roads these teams have to travel yet, but here are some super-early predictions for how they’re going to fare in the tournament.

North Carolina

North Carolina head coach Roy Williams

Talent-wise, the Tar Heels have enough talent to hang with any team in the country. Their frontcourt of Harrison Barnes, John Henson and Tyler Zeller is nearly unparalleled, and they have one of the best distributors in the country in Kendall Marshall.

If North Carolina does bow out of the tournament, it won’t be because of a lack of talent. It could, however, be because of a lack of focus.

The signature loss of North Carolina’s season was against Duke in early February. The Tar Heels had the game well in hand, but they choked as soon as the tide started to turn, and in the end they made it too easy for the Blue Devils to complete the comeback.

That was an isolated incident in the grand scheme of things, but it was reminiscent of something we may have seen from the Tar Heels in 2010-11. North Carolina is a great collection of players, but whether it’s a truly great team is debatable.

The Tar Heels aren’t headed for an early exit, but they’ll be ripe for an upset against the first team that truly gives them a challenge.

In the end, I have a feeling they’ll fall short of the Final Four.

Prediction: Elite Eight

Kansas

Thomas Robinson

The Jayhawks will go as far as Thomas Robinson is able to carry them.

I’m doing a disservice to the rest of the team by putting its fortunes squarely on Robinson’s shoulders, but only a slight disservice. Robinson is one of the best players in the country, and the Jayhawks wouldn’t be half of what they are without him.

Robinson will take Kansas far in the tournament, but the question I have to ask myself is whether he can take the Jayhawks further than they went last season, when they had the Morris twins leading the way.

That’s where I’m skeptical. I love Robinson as a player and I think Tyshawn Taylor doesn’t get enough credit, but this Kansas team is not quite as loaded as last year’s team. And that team, of course, was loaded enough to go the distance.

Kansas fared well against some tough competition during the regular season, but not well enough to convince me that it has the goods to make a deep run through the NCAA Tournament.

Prediction: Sweet 16

Syracuse

Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim.

The Orange are a classic case of a team that’s better than the sum of its parts.

For Syracuse, it’s all about ball movement and unselfish basketball on the offensive end of the floor, and smothering defense at the other end. The Orange are an outstanding defensive team, and they excel at forcing turnovers.

Syracuse’s defense will serve it well in the tournament. The Orange will be able to smother any and all comers, keeping games from getting out of control. They may just barely get by, but they should be used to that. Syracuse made a habit out of winning close games during the regular season.

The depth the Orange have will be a huge advantage, as will Jim Boeheim’s coaching. I think I speak for everyone when I say he’s done his finest work this season.

They’re not going to make it pretty, but I think the Orange are going to go far.

Prediction: Final Four

Kentucky

Anthony Davis

The only team with as much or more talent than North Carolina is Kentucky. The Wildcats are loaded.

It all revolves around Anthony Davis. He’s an offensive force at one end, a dominant defender and a true game-changer in general. Not a single team in the tournament is going to be able to keep him under wraps.

The fact that the Wildcats have elite talent around Davis borders on being unfair. Kentucky has several players who can score, and everyone plays good defense. When the Wildcats are clicking, nobody can hang with them.

My only real concern when it comes to Kentucky is that dominating the SEC isn’t the same as dominating the Big Ten, the Big East or the ACC. The SEC is not among the upper crust of the power conferences, so the fact that Kentucky was leaps and bounds better than the competition has to be taken for what it’s worth.

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