March Madness 2012 Bracket Predictions

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First things first: join the MSF Bracket Challenge. You’ll be competing not just against my bracket predictions below, but the picks of our writing staff and hundreds and hundreds of readers.  Can you earn MSF March Madness supremacy?

March Madness supremacy is, of course, my goal every year when I post these instant, statistically-based predictions immediately after the brackets are announced.

Related: Planning on attending any tourney games? Get your NCAA Tournament tickets right here from our exclusive ticket provider. You will be supporting MSF and Operation Homefront.

2012 Bracket Prediction System

If you missed it yesterday, I posted an explanation of this year’s bracket prediction system.

march-madness-2012-bracket-predictions-ncaa-tournament-picksIn a nutshell, here is the system, which is based on the Four Factors. If you are unfamiliar with the Four Factors read Ken Pomeroy’s description of them here and the thoughts of Dean Oliver, who originated the Four Factors, here.

Here are the 10 stats I have chosen:

  • Offensive Four Factors: eFG%; TO%; OR%; FTrate
  • Defensive Four Factors: eFG%; TO%; OR%; FTrate
  • Adjusted Efficiency Margin: (AdjOE – AdjDE)
  • Strength of Schedule

With 10 stats, obviously several matchups could end up in a 5-5 tie. Here is how I will break ties this year:

  • Adjusted Efficiency Margin will be the tie-breaking category.
  • If one team’s efficiency margin is better than the other’s by 10 or more, that team wins.
  • If the efficiency margin difference is less than 10, then I will break the tie and make the final choice.

Note: Normally I provide the Excel spreadsheet I used to organize the stats and make the picks. I am not doing that this year because the Four Factors data I used is a premium feature at It wouldn’t be fair to Ken (or, you know, legal) to provide free access to those statistics. But I encourage you to sign up. It has definitely been worth it for me.

Moving on, I provide this caveat every year, so let me offer it again:

I know that there are limitations to this system. I realize a more sophisticated system might weigh individual categories more than others based on their perceived level of influence on winning. I realize that numbers accumulated against tougher schedules are not equivalent to numbers accumulated versus easier schedules; I tried to compensate for this a bit by including strength of schedule as one category. I could go on.

The point is that I am not claiming in any way that this is a perfect or even good system for predicting the most unpredictable sporting event in the world. But I do think it’s better than the systems I’ve used over the last three years, and it does provide an objective, statistics-based system for predicting the tournament if you’re looking for one.

If you agree with the underlying thought processes behind it, I encourage you to use it to help you fill out your brackets.

2012 NCAA Tournament Bracket Predictions

And now it’s time to offer my predictions. Here we go, from First Four all the way to Final Four.

Note: depending on when you get to this post, the information below may not be filled out yet. I promise you, I’m efforting to get it filled it out ASAP. As soon as The Selection Show ended, I went to work applying the stats matchup by matchup. I will be updating this post immediately as I finish each region.

First Four Predictions

  • Lamar over Vermont
  • Western Kentucky over Mississippi Valley State
  • California over South Florida
  • Iona over BYU

Pat Knight keeps up his winning ways, while Cal and Iona garner victories and delude themselves into thinking they can be this year’s VCU! (Hey, who knows, maybe they can. Stay tuned Cal fans…according to my system your team won’t be done after one game.)

Midwest Region Predictions

Second Round Picks

  • #1 North Carolina over #16 Lamar
  • #8 Creighton over #9 Alabama
  • #4 Michigan over #13 Ohio
  • #5 Temple over #12 South Florida
  • #2 Kansas over #15 Detroit
  • #7 St. Mary’s over #10 Purdue
  • #14 Belmont over #3 Georgetown
  • #11 NC State over #6 San Diego State

Update: I initially predicted Cal to beat South Florida and then beat Temple in the next round. I clearly was wrong. South Florida blasted Cal, so I am taking a mulligan since most brackets aren’t due until Thursday.

Well let’s start off with a bang shall we? Plenty of upsets in the second round of the Midwest with three double-digit seeds winning. The Belmont and NC State wins were both pick ’ems. Here’s why I picked the underdogs: Belmont can really score (55.7 eFG%) and their efficiency margin of 20.3 wasn’t far off Georgetown’s 22.7; NC State is better offensively than San Diego State, and I think they are going to be smarting from that loss to UNC. I’ll give them the mental edge.

Third Round Picks

  • #1 North Carolina over #8 Creighton
  • #4 Michigan over #12 California
  • #2 Kansas over #15 St. Mary’s
  • #14 Belmont over #11 NC State

Michigan-Cal was a pick ’em game, and I’m going with Michigan because they have the higher efficiency margin, plus I love Trey Burke. As for Belmont over NC State, it’s another pick ’em game. I’m gonig with Belmont, again, because of their superior offense and far better efficiency margin (20.3 to 13.9).

Sweet 16 Picks

  • #1 North Carolina over #4 Michigan
  • #2 Kansas over #14 Belmont

Both of these games are blowouts based on the stats. North Carolina won 7 out of 10 and Kansas won 8 out of 10, including all four defensive categories.

Regional Final Pick

  • #2 Kansas over #1 North Carolina

What a matchup of blue bloods here. Kansas ends up getting the nod because they have the higher efficiency margin (30.6 to 29.1) that was generated against a tougher schedule. I’m a little uneasy about this, because I don’t trust Kansas, but gotta go with the system, right? Right…

Midwest Region Champion: Kansas

To see the predictions for the rest of the regions, as well as the Final Four picks, as soon as they are ready, continue on to the next page.

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About Jerod Morris

I love words. I write for Copyblogger and founded MSF, The Assembly Call, & Primility. I practice yoga, eat well, & strive for balance. I love life. Namaste. Say hi on Twitter, Facebook, & G+.


  1. Maths498 says:

    I think your final four is mixed up.. Kentucky would be playing Michigan State in the Final Four.

  2. How does this system usually work in predicting the bracket? 

    • Good question. This is the first year I’ve used this particular system. Frankly, I’ve had diminishing returns using the stats-based predicting system. It worked out really well the first year, and it was great the first day last year, but then fell apart after that. I will say that I think this is the most statistically sound system I’ve used, but it’s the NCAA Tournament…I fully expect it all to blow up in my face again!

      • I put $10 on your pics (big spender, I know), so here’s to statistics succeeding over the human aspect…

  3. wisconsinFAN says:

    Hey i have some questions for you, i have Florida st. beating Ohio st. in the sweet 16, and also have NC st beating georgetown in the 2nd round, I also dont think Syracuse can beat Vanderbilt OR Wisconsin can you give me some advice? I also picked Missouri to win the natty champ because of their incredible outside shooting and ability to create shots and space because they are just so athletic. by the way im 17 but i do my research can you help me out?

    • Certainly the loss of Fab Melo hurts Syracuse. I really want to pick Wisconsin to beat them, but Wisconsin has been a bit inconsistent this year. Andy has Vandy getting to the Sweet 16 and beating Syracuse. I think without Melo, the safe bet is probably ousting Syracuse before the Elite 8. As for Missouri, they have a great chance. I think it would be hard for them against a team like Kentucky – but then again, it would be hard for anyone against Kentucky. I do think Missouri would present some tough issues for Michigan State, but could the Tigers control the Spartans’ tremendous low-post game? I like Missouri just fine as a Final Four pick. Once they get there, it’ll be all about who they match up with. Such is life in the Tournament…

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  4. What do you think the tiebreaker score will be?

  5. dont i remember you picking Morehead St over Louisville last year?

    • Indeed! I actually had every game from the first Thursday session right. Needless to say, I was having delusions of potential perfect bracket grandeur. Then UConn beat Belmont, never lost again, and my bracket fell totally to pieces.

  6. Good article – well thought out.  The one thing you can’t predict is how one team matches up against another, unless they’ve played each other already this year.  You can have all the stats you want to rationalize predictions but they really don’t add up to mean the same as player vs player and system vs system matchups.

    Some teams kill the zone, others can only run, while others can’t consistently beat a press.  That’s why the brackets blow up in our faces every year.  When a game is over, we tend to say to ourselves, “how did I not see that coming?!?”  It’s because we don’t know how these teams will match up until they play.

    Best time of the year.  Go Bucky!

    • You are 100% right, hence my caveat this this is a totally flawed system…but I guess just as flawed as any other. That’s what makes March Madness so awesome. Whether going stats-based, analyzing matchups after having watched every team play (like Andy), or just throwing darts…we all have just about the same chance.

  7. Sarah Sanders says:

    What are the categories that you used to predict the system? Like what is OR% or FTrate?

  8. Ruddg16 from Midland, Tx says:

    Well dang!!  I submitted your picks in our office pool this year.  A co-worker and I were tied for 1st place going into the final.  I would have won it if Ohio St. wouldn’t have lost but anyways we both had Kentucky winning so it came down to the tie breaker.  Unfortunatley my final score was way higher and his was closer to the final score so he took it.  I’ll keep playing your predictions since this is the first time i came so close! Thanks Jerod!

  9. Are you going to post your predictions again for 2013 tourament? I took your picks last year and won!!!

  10. Come on Man Kentucky is my team but they were the best last year. I told all my friends I knew a writer who know how to pick. At least post your bracket pics. Please dont let down. LOL

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