2012 NCAA Tournament Predictions: Vulnerable Higher Seeds
by Trevor Whenham - 3/13/2012
If everything goes true to form then a team seeded in the Top 4 seeds of the NCAA Tournament should wind up in the Sweet 16. It virtually never turns out that way, but whenever one of those Top 4 teams loses on the first weekend it has to be seen as a real disappointment for them.
Here are my 2012 NCAA Tournament predictions for four teams that seem as if they could indeed be disappointing by that logic — vulnerable Top-4 seeds in the NCAA Tournament (all odds are from Bovada):
Indiana (12/1 to win the South Region)
The No. 4 seed in the South Region is making its return to the NCAA Tournament after a four-year absence. While I like a lot of what this team has to offer — including Cody Zeller, one of the best freshmen in the country — I am not particularly optimistic about them. It seems to me as if this is more of a team moving in the right direction than one that is ready to make some real noise.
For starters, their youth and lack of experience doesn’t comfort me — especially since they didn’t particularly shine in the relatively duller spotlight of the Big Ten Conference Tournament. If they can’t hit three pointers effectively then the inside isn’t open enough for Zeller to be at his best, and that makes it challenging for the team. Most significantly, the team lost senior Verdell Jones III to injury, and he leaves a big hole.
This team hasn’t shown a real killer instinct at key times this year, and I don’t expect them to find one now. They don’t have a cake walk in their opener against New Mexico State, and both Wichita State and VCU in the second round have the ability to be very tough.
Two wins would be a big accomplishment for this squad, and I’m not banking on that happening.
Louisville (7/1 to win the West Region)
I am conflicted about the Cardinals. On one hand I think that Rick Pitino is as good as any coach out there, and their performance in the Big East Tournament was obviously impressive. Winning that tournament can be a big springboard as well, as UConn clearly showed last year.
On the other hand, though, the team was only a No. 7 seed heading into that tournament, and they were frustratingly inconsistent during the regular season. They face the huge challenge of maintaining their focus after their big win, and they have to travel all the way to Portland for their opening games.
They have been hit hard by injuries, and that has had a big impact on their depth and their scoring. Their defense is strong, and they are outstanding at generating steals, but if the opponent can set the tempo, limit turnovers, and limit the effectiveness of the transition game then the Cardinals are in trouble.
Last year Louisville finished second in the Big East Tournament, and then lost in ugly fashion to a No. 13 seed in their opening game. The same thing could happen this year — especially since Davidson, New Mexico, and Long Beach State are all dangerous teams.
Georgetown (11/1 to win the Midwest Region)
Here’s the biggest reason I have concerns about the Hoyas. At 11/1 to win their Regional they are the third choice in the group. That makes sense since they are the No. 3 seed. The problem is that one of the teams tied for fourth at 18/1 is Belmont — the No. 14 that Georgetown has to play in the first round.
The Bears are incredibly under-seeded here, and are a very good team. As the odds suggest they are not your typical No. 14. Georgetown has lost twice in a row to double-digit seeds, so they certainly are vulnerable. Belmont is a strong shooting team that loves to throw up three pointers, and can do it quickly. Georgetown struggles when they can’t establish their half court defense, and they lack the firepower to dig themselves out of holes. A quick, confident start from Belmont, then, could be a real problem.
If they get past that game then either San Diego State or North Carolina State would be a tough matchup in the next round. I just don’t expect this team to survive to the second weekend.
Florida State (15/2 to win the East Region)
This is a team that just beat Duke and North Carolina to win the ACC Tournament, so they are obviously dangerous. They are also a team that can easily overlook opponents they don’t respect as much, though. Combine that with the fact that they have to refocus and compose themselves after their shocking win and they are vulnerable.
They are also a team that turns the ball a whole lot — more than 329 other teams in the country, in fact. St. Bonaventure and especially Cincinnati are teams that can exploit that and throw the Seminoles off their game.
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