As we gear up for another exciting 2012 March Madness, let’s take a look at some of the top contenders to win the National Championship this year. The first 3 teams are those that I consider the March Madness favorites. The next set of 2 teams are teams that I believe have an outside shot of winning it all if the breaks go their way. Barring a Butler-like fluke run, I just don’t see anyone else having a realistic shot to cut down the nets in New Orleans.
The Top Contenders
1.North Carolina Tar Heels
I’ve never been a big Roy Williams fan. I’ve always felt his success was more a result of having an insane amount of talent, rather than being a great coach. But, alas, Roy has yet another squad loaded with future NBA draft picks. The Tar Heels only weakness is themselves. They’ve had lapses of lazy, uninspired play at times this year. But you can’t deny the fact this is one of the most talented teams in the country. Harrison Barnes can take over games, and Tyler Zeller is often unstoppable down low. I’m taking North Carolina to win it all – partially because they were my preseason pick – but I wouldn’t be surprised to see them lay an egg in the Sweet 16 either.
Eventually John Calipari has to win it all, right? Of course, I’ve thought this for years. He had a great look at it a few years ago at Memphis, but then Mario Chalmers went Reggie Miller and Kansas stole his title away. Overall, Kentucky is as talented as North Carolina, but I give the Tar Heels the slight edge due to experience.
3.Ohio State Buckeyes
When you have a great ball handler (Aaron Craft), a dominating big man (Jared Sullinger), and an athletic shooter (Robert Buford), you’re going to be a force to reckon with. This could finally be the year Thad Matta’s team wins it all. Or, like North Carolina, they could flame out in the Sweet 16. Again, I wouldn’t be surprised with either result.
Jim Boeheim’s teams are tough to predict in the NCAA Tournament. They usually underachieve. There’s no denying what an amazing year Syracuse has had. But they’ve done it by overachieving a bit. And when I see an overachieving team, I tend to predict against them in the NCAA Tournament. Syracuse plays exceptional team basketball, but I just don’t think their talent matches up against the Top 3 teams on this list.
Missouri is a very good team with a lot of talent. Marcus Denmon can light it up. They play good defense, play well as a team, and play hard every game. Missouri is the type of team I wouldn’t want to play because they get after you on both ends of the floor. They have just as good of a shot to win it all as anyone.
Non-Championship Contending Teams to Look Out for
Indiana Hoosiers. With Cody Zeller down low and a few deadly weapons on the perimeter, they are the type of team that could pull a big upset.
Creighton Blue Jays. Overall, Creighton lacks the talent to compete with the big boys. However, in the NCAA Tournament, sometimes it just takes one player to dominate in order to pull a major upset. Doug McDermott is one of the best players in the country and can take over any game. Side note: McDermott and Harrison Barnes were high school teammates in Ames, Iowa. They didn’t lose a single game their last 2 seasons, which isn’t much of a surprise.
Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles. It’s been 11 years since a Larry Eustachy team has made it to the NCAA Tournament. He’s a good coach and will have his team ready to play. Their ability to play defense will give teams fits. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them in the Sweet 16.
It’s going to be another great March Madness. There is lots of parity, great teams, and superstar players. I will be spending my time (and money) at my favorite Las Vegas Sportsbooks. Hopefully I will come out a winner again this year!