March Madness: Bracket Predictions For The 2012 NCAA Tournament

Yesterday, I posted my official bracket predictions for the 2012 NCAA Tournament, which were made using this Four Factors-based system.

(And by “official” I mean the one bracket I’m going on record with here at MSF. I’m sure I’ll fill out several more just for fun before the games start.)

Here is a recap in case you missed that post yesterday in the maelstrom of March Madness content that went up.

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Here is my bracket for this year. Click it to enlarge in a new window:


March Madness Bracket Predictions for 2012

First Four Predictions

These games are played on Tuesday and Wednesday. To see the First Four TV Schedule, click here.

  • 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.)

To see the TV schedule for the Thursday/Friday games at each of the four regions, click here.

Midwest Bracket 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. 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


Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Midwest Region Bracket, TV Schedule, Sites, Announcers, Spreads

Game Matchup Date Time Location Announcers TV Spread
  FIRST ROUND            
  Vermont def Lamar 71-59 Wed, 3/15 6:40 ET Dayton Eagle-Spanarkel truTV LAM -3
  Cal v South Florida Wed, 3/15 9:05 ET Dayon Eagle-Spanarkel truTV CAL -2.5
  SECOND ROUND            
1 #1 North Carolina def #16 Vermont 77-58 Fri, 3/16 4:05 ET Greensboro Nantz-Kellogg TBS TBA
2 #8 Creighton def #9 Alabama 58-57 Fri, 3/16 1:40 ET Greensboro Nantz-Kellogg TBS ALA -1.5
3 #13 Ohio def #4 Michigan 65-60 Fri, 3/16 7:30 ET Nashville Eagle-Spanarkel TNT MICH -6
4 #12 South Florida def #5 Temple 58-44 Fri, 3/16 9:55 ET Nashville Eagle-Spanarkel TNT TBA
5 #2 Kansas def #15 Detroit 65-50 Fri, 3/16 9:52 ET Omaha Albert-Kerr-Sager truTV KU -15
6 #10 Purdue def #7 St. Mary's 72-59 Fri, 3/16 7:27 ET Omaha Albert-Kerr-Sager truTV PU -2
7 #3 Georgetown def #14 Belmont 74-59 Fri, 3/16 3:05 ET Columbus Brando-Gminski truTV GU -3.5
8 #11 NC State def #6 San Diego State 79-65 Fri, 3/16 12:40 ET Columbus Brando-Gminski truTV NCST -1.5
  THIRD ROUND            
9 #1 North Carolina def #8 Creighton 87-73 Sun, 3/18 5:15 ET Greensboro Nantz-Kellogg CBS  
10 #13 Ohio def #12 South Florida 62-56 Sun, 3/18 7:10 ET Nashville Eagle-Spanarkel TBS  
11 #2 Kansas def #10 Purdue 63-60 Sun, 3/18 8:40 ET Omaha Albert-Kerr-Sager TNT  
12 #11 NC State def #3 Georgetown 66-63 Sun, 3/18 12:15 ET Columbus Brando-Gminski CBS  
  SWEET 16            
13 #1 North Carolina v #13 Ohio Fri, 3/23   St. Louis     UNC -10.5
14 #2 Kansas v #11 NC State Fri, 3/23   St. Louis     KU -8
  ELITE 8 - REGIONAL FINAL            
15 Game 13 Winner v Game 14 Winner Sun, 3/23   St. Louis      


South Bracket Predictions

To see Andy’s capsules for each South Region team, click here.

Second Round Picks

  • #1 Kentucky over #16 Western Kentucky
  • #8 Iowa State over #9 UConn
  • #4 Indiana over #13 New Mexico State
  • #5 Wichita State over #12 VCU
  • #2 Duke over #15 Lehigh
  • #10 Xavier over #7 Notre Dame
  • #3 Baylor over #14 South Dakota State
  • #6 UNLV over #11 Colorado

Iowa State over UConn surprised me, and makes me a bit uneasy, but they have been the more efficient team over the course of the season. Indiana’s first round matchup is a tough one, but they won six out of ten categories. Xavier actually outscored Notre Dame in six categories, so that one wasn’t tough. Watch out for South Dakota State though. Their matchup with Baylor was 5-5, but I chose Baylor because of their supreme NBA-level talent and 22.6-14.0 efficiency advantage.

Third Round Picks

  • #1 Kentucky over #8 Iowa State
  • #4 Indiana over #5 Wichita State
  • #2 Duke over #10 Xavier
  • #3 Baylor over #6 UNLV

Indiana versus Wichita State is a toss up. Indiana has the advantage on offense, Wichita State has the advantage on defense. Full disclosure: I’m a die-hard Indiana fan. I can’t say that didn’t enter into my pick, because I usually let efficiency margin break the tie, and Wichita State’s is actually 0.1 higher than Indiana’s (26.6-26.5). Ultimately though, I think Cody Zeller will be the best player on the floor, and I just have a feeling that Indiana is going to play loosely and confidently the first weekend, which should allow them to out-talent Wichita State. Duke and Baylor both win with at least six of the categories.

Sweet 16 Picks

  • #1 Kentucky over #4 Indiana
  • #2 Duke over #3 Baylor

I don’t need the stats to tell me Kentucky will likely beat Indiana in a rematch. As much as I’ll root for Indiana, and talk myself into them being able to win the game, the stats favor Kentucky 6-4, and they will be highly motivated to beat the only team that handled them a loss during the regular season, one they’ve said repeatedly has motivated them. You beat Kentucky by playing them when they aren’t focused. A focused Wildcat team will simply be too much for the Hoosiers, I’m afraid. As for Duke-Baylor, I really wanted it to be Baylor, but Duke won six of the categories, setting up…

Regional Final Pick

  • #1 Kentucky over #2 Duke

…yep, a rematch of the most famous regional final game in NCAA Tournament history. In this case, however, I don’t think there will be any last second Duke magic. Kentucky owns them statistically 7-3, and the eye test suggests Kentucky will just overwhelm Duke like North Carolina did. If Duke gets this far, I think Kentucky blows them away frankly. Again, a focused Kentucky team, against another blue blood opponent it will respect, is not good for the opponent.

South Region Champion: Kentucky


South Region Bracket, TV Schedule, Sites, Announcers, Point Spreads

Game Matchup Date Time Location Announcers TV Spread
  FIRST ROUND            
  Western Kentucky def Miss Val St. 59-58 Tue, 3/13 6:40 ET Dayton Nantz-Kellogg-Kerr truTV WKU -4.5
  SECOND ROUND            
1 #1 Kentucky def #16 Western Kentucky 81-66 Thu, 3/15 6:50 ET Louisville Lundquist-Raftery TBS UK -24.5
2 #8 Iowa State def #9 UConn 77-64 Thu, 3/15 9:15 ET Louisville Lundquist-Raftery TBS CON -2
3 #4 Indiana def #13 New Mexico State 79-66 Thu, 3/15 9:40 ET Portland Anderson-Bonner CBS IU -6.5
4 #12 VCU def #5 Wichita State 62-59 Thu, 3/15 7:15 ET Portland Anderson-Bonner CBS WICH -6
5 #15 Lehigh def #2 Duke 75-70 Fri, 3/16 7:15 ET Greensboro Nantz-Kellogg TBS DUKE -12
6 #10 Xavier def #7 Notre Dame 67-63 Fri, 3/16 9:40 ET Greensboro Nantz-Kellogg TBS ND -2.5
7 #3 Baylor def #14 South Dakota State 68-60 Thu, 3/15 7:27 ET Albuquerque Dedes-Wenzel truTV BAY -8
8 #11 Colorado def #6 UNLV 68-64 Thu, 3/15 9:52 ET Albuquerque Dedes-Wenzel truTV UNLV -5
  THIRD ROUND            
9 #1 Kentucky def #8 Iowa State 87-71 Sat, 3/17 7:45 ET Louisville Lundquist-Raftery CBS UK -11.5
10 #4 Indiana def #12 VCU 63-61 Sat, 3/17 7:10 ET Portland Anderson-Bonner TBS IU -6
11 #10 Xavier def #15 Lehigh 70-58 Sun, 3/18 7:45 ET Greensboro Nantz-Kellogg truTV  
12 #3 Baylor def #11 Colorado 80-63 Sat, 3/17 8:40 ET Albuquerque Dedes-Wenzel TNT BAY -7.5
  SWEET 16            
13 #1 Kentucky v #4 Indiana Fri, 3/23   Atlanta     UK -9
14 #3 Baylor v #10 Xavier Fri, 3/23   Atlanta     BAY -6
  ELITE 8 - REGIONAL FINAL            
15 Game 13 Winner v Game 14 Winner Sun, 3/25   Atlanta      


East Bracket Predictions

To see Andy’s team capsules for the East Region, click here.

Second Round Picks

  • #1 Syracuse over #16 UNC-Asheville
  • #8 Kansas State over #9 Southern Miss
  • #4 Wisconsin over #13 Montana
  • #5 Vanderbilt over #12 Harvard
  • #2 Ohio State over #15 Loyola (MD)
  • #7 Gonzaga over #10 West Virginia
  • #3 Florida State over #14 St. Bonaventure
  • #11 Texas over #6 Cincinnati

Interestingly, there was only one toss-up in the second round, and it involved the red-hot ACC Champions Florida State. I ultimately chose the Seminoles because of their better efficiency margin and momentum, but St. Bonaventure has better numbers than I anticipated. Texas gets the nod over Cincinnati because of their rebounding and schedule strength.

Third Round Picks

  • #1 Syracuse over #8 Kansas State
  • #4 Wisconsin over #5 Vanderbilt
  • #2 Ohio State over #7 Gonzaga
  • #11 Texas over #3 Florida State

Wisconsin-Vanderbilt is a toss up game, and it’s one I had trouble deciding. I ultimately went with Wisconsin because their efficiency margin is 26.8 to Vanderbilt’s 20.7, and their ability to hold teams to low eFG% numbers does not bode well for Vandy. Also, Florida State’s low offensive numbers catch up to them as Texas gets the nod. Texas actually has a higher efficiency margin, 19.3 to 17.6.

Sweet 16 Picks

  • #4 Wisconsin over #1 Syracuse
  • #2 Ohio State over #11 Texas

A Sweet 16 upset here as Wisconsin beats Syracuse. It’s a toss-up game, as both teams win five categories, but the efficiency margins are not that different (28.2 for Syracuse to 26.8 to Wisconsin), and I like Wisconsin’s ability to shoot against the Syracuse zone. Plus, one of Syracuse’s strengths this season has been forcing turnovers, but Wisconsin rarely turns it over, and the Badgers have a guy in Jordan Taylor who can single-handedly win games for the Badgers. Ohio State dominates Texas 8-2.

Regional Final Pick

  • #2 Ohio State over #4 Wisconsin

An all-Big Ten regional final! Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like it’ll be a great matchup, as Ohio State wins eight of the ten categories. Certainly Wisconsin can beat the Buckeyes, but I think Ohio State is playing at or near its best entering the tournament, and they simply have too much athleticism for Wisconsin. It would be a fun game, but the Buckeyes prevail and move on to the Final Four.

East Region Champion: Ohio State


East Region Bracket, TV Schedule, Sites, Announcers, Point Spreads

Game Matchup Date Time Location Announcers TV Spread
  SECOND ROUND            
1 #1 Syracuse def #16 UNC-Asheville 72-65 Thu, 3/15 3:05 ET Pittsburgh Harlan-Elmore truTV SU -17
2 #8 Kansas State def #9 Southern Miss 70-64 Thu, 3/15 12:40 ET Pittsburgh Harlan-Elmore truTV KST -6.5
3 #4 Wisconsin def #13 Montana 73-49 Thu, 3/15 2:10 ET Albuquerque Dedes-Wenzel TNT WIS -9.5
4 #5 Vanderbilt def #12 Harvard 79-70 Thu, 3/15 4:35 ET Albuquerque Dedes-Wenzel TNT VAN -6.5
5 #2 Ohio State def #15 Loyola (MD) 78-59 Thu, 3/15 9:45 ET Pittsburgh Harlan-Elmore TNT OSU -17.5
6 #7 Gonzaga def #10 West Virginia 77-54 Thu, 3/15 7:20 ET Pittsburgh Harlan-Elmore TNT Pick 'em
7 #3 Florida State def #14 St. Bonaventure 66-63 Fri, 3/16 2:40 ET Nashville Eagle-Spanarkel CBS FSU -6
8 #6 Cincinnati def #11 Texas 65-59 Fri, 3/16 12:15 ET Nashville Eagle-Spanarkel CBS CIN -2
  THIRD ROUND            
9 #1 Syracuse def #8 Kansas State 77-59 Sat, 3/17 12:15 ET Pittsburgh Harlan-Elmore CBS SU -5
10 #4 Wisconsin def #5 Vanderbilt 60-57 Sat, 3/17 6:10 ET Albuquerque Dedes-Wenzel TNT VAN -1
11 #2 Ohio State def #7 Gonzaga 73-66 Sat, 3/17 2:45 ET Pittsburgh Harlan-Elmore CBS OSU -7.5
12 #3 Florida State v #6 Cincinnati Sun, 3/18 9:40 ET Nashville Eagle-Spanarkel TBS  
  SWEET 16            
13 #1 Syracuse v #4 Wisconsin Thu, 3/22   Boston     SU -4
14 #2 Ohio State v Game 12 Winner Thu, 3/22   Boston      
  ELITE 8 - REGIONAL FINAL            
15 Game 13 Winner v Game 14 Winner Sat, 3/24   Boston      


West Bracket Predictions

To see Andy’s team-by-team capsules for the West Region, click here.

Second Round Picks

  • #1 Michigan State over #16 LIU Brooklyn
  • #8 Memphis over #9 Saint Louis
  • #4 Louisville over #13 Davidson
  • #5 New Mexico over #12 Long Beach State
  • #2 Missouri over #15 Norfolk State
  • #7 Florida over #10 Virginia
  • #3 Marquette over #14 Iona
  • #11 Colorado State over #6 Murray State

Memphis is many folks’ darling heading into the tournament, but they were a toss-up victory over Saint Louis. I chose the Tigers because their efficiency margin is slightly better and because they are red hot. The only other unexpected result in this set of games isn’t even a toss-up, which shocked me. Colorado State actually beats Murray State in six out of ten categories. If you asked me who I thought would win this game, I’d have said Murray State. But damn the system. It picks the Rams, so that’s what we go with; and frankly, their numbers suggest that Colorado State is much better than I thought. Did you know Murray State’s efficiency margin is only 7.3 this year? It’s true. That’s far from elite.

Third Round Picks

  • #1 Michigan State over #8 Memphis
  • #5 New Mexico over #4 Louisville
  • #2 Missouri over #7 Florida
  • #3 Marquette over #11 Colorado State

I’ve already heard many folks suggesting Memphis as an upset pick of Michigan State. I don’t buy it, and luckily I don’t have to since the Spartans win 6-4. New Mexico bests Louisville 6-4 and has an efficiency margin advantage of 5.3. Missouri and Marquette win with at least six category advantages a piece.

Sweet 16 Picks

  • #1 Michigan State over #5 New Mexico
  • #3 Marquette over #2 Missouri

Michigan State has a 7-3 advantage over New Mexico, whose efficiency margin is 8.1 less than Michigan State’s. The Marquette-Missouri matchup would be a fascinating one, and I have it as a toss-up, with each winning five categories. Missouri even dominates the efficiency margin 28-22.1, but I’m going with Marquette based on a hunch. I wouldn’t be surprised to be wrong here, but I like Buzz Williams more as a coach than Frank Haith, and in a big spot like this I’m going with the coach I trust more, since I have the option.

Regional Final Pick

  • #1 Michigan State over #3 Marquette

The Spartans win 6-4. They own Marquette on the glass and have a 30.2-22.1 efficiency margin. And we just now that Tom Izzo is magnetically attracted to the Final Four, so I don’t think he’ll be denied once he’s one game away from another one.

West Region Champion: Michigan State


West Region Bracket, TV Schedule, Sites, Announcers, Point Spreads

Game Matchup Date Time Location Announcers TV Spread
  FIRST ROUND            
  BYU def Iona 78-72 Tue, 3/14 9:05 ET Dayton Nantz-Kellogg-Kerr truTV BYU -2
  SECOND ROUND            
1 #1 Michigan State def #16 LIU Brooklyn 89-67 Fri, 3/16 9:15 ET Columbus Brando-Gminski TBS MSU -20
2 #9 Saint Louis def #8 Memphis 61-54 Fri, 3/16 6:50 ET Columbus Brando-Gminski TBS MEM -3
3 #4 Louisville def #13 Davidson 69-62 Thu, 3/15 1:40 ET Portland Anderson-Bonner TBS UL -7
4 #5 New Mexico def #12 Long Beach State 75-68 Thu, 3/15 3:05 ET Portland Anderson-Bonner TBS UNM -4.5
5 #15 Norfolk St def #2 Missouri 86-84 Fri, 3/16 4:35 ET Omaha Albert-Kerr-Sager TNT MIS -21.5
6 #7 Florida def #10 Virginia 71-45 Fri, 3/16 2:10 ET Omaha Albert-Kerr-Sager TNT UF -3.5
7 #3 Marquette def #14 BYU 88-68 Thu, 3/15 2:35 ET Louisville Lundquist-Raftery CBS TBA
8 #6 Murray State def #11 Colorado State 58-41 Thu, 3/15 12:15 ET Louisville Lundquist-Raftery CBS MUR -3.5
  THIRD ROUND            
9 #1 Michigan State def #9 Saint Louis 65-61 Sun, 3/18 2:45 ET Columbus Brando-Gminski CBS  
10 #4 Louisville def #5 New Mexico 59-56 Sat, 3/17 9:40 ET Portland Anderson-Bonner TBS LOU -1.5
11 #7 Florida def #15 Norfolk State Sun, 3/18 6:10 ET Omaha Albert-Kerr-Sager TNT UF -14
12 #3 Marquette def #6 Murray State 62-53 Sat, 3/17 5:15 ET Louisville Lundquist-Raftery CBS MARQ -5
  SWEET 16            
13 #1 Michigan State v #4 Louisville Thu, 3/22   Phoenix     MSU -5
14 #7 Florida v #3 Marquette Thu, 3/22   Phoenix     MARQ -2
  ELITE 8 - REGIONAL FINAL            
15 Game 13 Winner v Game 14 Winner Sat, 3/24   Phoenix      


Final Four Bracket Predictions

Final Four Games

  • South #1 Kentucky over West #1 Michigan State
  • East #2 Ohio State over Midwest #2 Kansas

I mentioned above that I’m an Indiana fan, so you know that seeing Kentucky in the Final Four does not excited me; but I knew it was very likely once I compiled all of the stats and then saw them lose today – because now the most efficient and dominant team in the tournament will enter without the arrogance of having won every game it’s played in the 2012 calendar year. And sure enough, Kentucky outscores Michigan State 7-3 to get to the title game.

The other semifinal game would pit a couple of Midwest teams against each other in Ohio State and Kansas. This battle is also a 7-3 margin, and the Buckeyes are the ones who advance.

Frankly, I’d really have loved to pick Kansas and Michigan State, because those would be the two teams I’d actually root for in a Final Four with these four teams, but I’ve gotta go with what the system says…

National Championship Game

  • South #1 Kentucky over East #2 Ohio State

This would really be a terrific game. Ohio State has been a bit up and down this year with their focus, but this is a talented team with size the give Kentucky problems, and they seem to be entering the tournament with as much focus as they’ve had all year.

But Kentucky simply looks like they would be too much, as the Wildcats actually earn a 7-3 advantage.

Believe me, I really, really, really want to see someone else win the National Championship. And I wouldn’t bet a dime on Kentucky, because I simply don’t trust their youth come March – and with good reason – but the reality is that their stats are more dominant this year than they’ve been in any of Coach Cal’s previous seasons in Lexington, and Anthony Davis is both the most talented and best player in America.

It’ll probably make me vomit, but I have to go with Kentucky to win it all in 2012.

National Champion: Kentucky Wildcats

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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. You can definitely tell you are not an ESPN east coast puppet.  My heart agrees with you emphatically – look at all those Big Ten teams advancing – nice. And Alford too.  Hope you’re right!

  2. TheBigGumbo says:

    ESPN – wrong on three out of four on your first four picks!  Not a good start!

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