COMMENTARY | The NCAA Tournament field has been announced and it is time to fill our your bracket’s. Games start Tuesday and everyone is asking the question, who will be this year’s “Cinderella?” Not every upset comes at the hands of a team you have never heard of, but it is those bracket busting schools that make the month of March so mad.
Here are the top 2012 Cinderella teams, and then specific upsets to expect:
2012 Cinderella Teams:
Virginia Commonwealth was an amazing story last year, advancing all the way to the Final Four. Although they are not the same team and had a couple of disappointing losses, Coach Shaka Smart and the Rams have won 16 of their last 17 games. The Rams force more turnovers than any team in the country and will face beatable opponents in Wichita State and Indiana in the first two rounds. I will not predict a victory over Kentucky, but VCU may once again be the Cinderella story of the tournament.
(12) Long Beach State
LBSU played a very tough schedule despite being in the Big West Conference and played well against some very tough opponents. LBSU defeated Pittsburgh, Xavier, and Auburn, and took San Diego State into overtime. The 49ers also played North Carolina, Kansas, Louisville, and Kansas State. They are led by three strong seniors, all who average over 10 points a game in Casper Ware, Larry Anderson, and T.J. Robinson. LBSU will have a good shot at beating New Mexico who has losses against Colorado State and TCU, and then would go on to most likely face Louisville who is tough but does have 9 losses on the season. Look out for the LBSU 49ers.
The Ohio Bobcats almost pulled off an upset in Louisville earlier this year and have put together a very nice season in the MAC. Junior D.J. Cooper could be the Bobcats’ ticket to several upsets in this year’s tournament. Cooper averages nearly 15 points, 3.8 rebounds, 5.7 assists, and over 2 steals a game. The University of Michigan will be their first opponent and they are a very streaky team who is capable of playing at a very high level. If Ohio can upset the Wolverines, they will most likely face Temple, who they are capable of beating as well. The Bobcats have a very good chance of earning the Cinderella label.
Belmont is not getting a lot of love this tournament, but they have won 14 straight games and almost beat Duke, losing by only one point on the road. Belmont has two very dangerous guards in Kerron Johnson and Ian Clark who both average over 12.5 points per game. Belmont will face off against #3 Georgetown who has lost three of their last six games. If Belmont can get past Georgetown, they will face NC State or San Diego State. I am taking Belmont to the Sweet 16 as I feel they have the best chance at being the biggest underdog to reach the field of 16.
Upsets to Watch for:
(11) Texas over (6) Cincinnati
(11) Colorado over (6) UNLV
(12) Harvard over (5) Vanderbilt
(12) Long Beach St. over (5) New Mexico
(12) VCU over (5) Wichita State
(13) Ohio over (4) Michigan
(14) Belmont over (3) Georgetown
(15) Detroit over (2) Kansas
(14) Belmont over (6) SDSU
(13) Ohio over (5) Temple
(12) VCU over (4) Indiana
(12) LBSU over (4) Louisville
(8) Kansas State over (1) Syracuse
(6) Murray State over (3) Marquette
(6) Murray State over (2) Missouri