The Midwest region of the NCAA tournament is headlined by UNC Tar Heels, but don’t discount the home-state UM Wolverines.
No. 1 Seed
The number one seed of the region are the University of North Carolina. Sophomore forward Harrison Barnes, senior Forward Tyler Zeller and junior forward John Henson lead UNC. Barnes, Zeller and Henson lead the Tar-heels in point with 17.4, 16.5 and 13.8 points per game respectively.
Naismith trophy candidate, Thomas Robinson, leads the Kansas University Jayhawks. Robinson is averaging 17.9 points per game, 11.8 rebounds per game, 1.9 assists per game and 1 block per game.
The Georgetown Hoyas, who were not ranked at the start of the season, proved to be one of the nation’s best programs with an 11 game win streak during the season. That streak included wins over No. 8 Memphis, No. 12 Alabama, No. 4 Louiseville and No. 20 Marquette.
The University of Michigan Wolverines started the season ranked No. 18 in the country and maintained a steady ranking between No.10 and No.25 throughout the season. The Wolverines proved a force to be reckoned with, with a 15-1 home record including home wins over No. 19 Wisconsin, No. 9 Michigan State, No. 20 Indiana University and No. 6 Ohio State.
The Creighton Blue Jays feature Naismith Candidate Doug McDermott, who led the nation in scoring for a portion of the year. The mid-major Blue Jays face Alabama first, with a 2nd Round matchup with UNC looming.
The East region of the 2012 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, led by Syracuse, is filled with championship contenders across the board.
No. 1 Seed
The Syracuse Orange are a balanced squad, with seven players averaging at least eight points per game. Deion Waiters, a sophomore guard, is second on the team in points per game, off the bench, with 12.6.
Their senior leader is Kris Joseph, a forward, leads the team with 13.8 points per game.
Though Syracuse is the No. 1 seed, experts do not expect them to make it very far into the tournament after losing key seven-foot center, Fabian Melo due to ineligibility. The Orange almost lost their first round matchup to UNC-Ashville, which could be an indicator of struggles to come.
Ohio State was considered to be a number one seed for much of the year. However, after losing three out of five games near the end of the season, coupled with a loss to Michigan State (the rightful number one seed) in the Big Ten Tournament Final, they were dealt a two seed.
Wisconsin, led by senior guard Jordan Taylor, is also considered a legitimate contender. The Badgers could make a run to the Final Four with strong play from Taylor and his supporting cast.
Florida State had some rough patches during the 2011-2012 season, but they proved to be legitimate contenders after winning the ACC tournament for the first time in team history. En route to the ACC title they had back-to-back wins against Duke and North Carolina respectively.
Perennial mid-major powerhouse Gonzaga has made the NCAA Tournament field again. The Zags narrowly defeated St. Mary’s for the WCC title, but dismantled West Virginia 77-54 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
The South Region features Kentucky, the nation’s No. 1 team. It also features last year’s giant-killers, VCU.
The No. 1 Seed
The Kentucky Wildcats have been named by experts as the best team in college basketball all season long. Freshman phenom Anthony Davis is a force around the basket, averaging 14.3 points, 10.0 rebounds, and 4.7 blocks.
Kentucky has lost just two games this season, and dominated the Southeastern Conference, going 16-0 in conference play. No one will be surprised if this team wins it all.
The Duke Blue Devils are good every year, and this season is no different. Brothers Mason and Miles Plumlee provide strong play around the basket. Meanwhile, guard Austin Rivers has an NBA pedigree as son of Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers, and it shows as the freshman averages 15.4 points.
The Baylor Bears are a balanced team that has played well all year. Perry Jones III leads the Bears with 14.0 points per game, along with 7.7 rebounds. Baylor had a scare against South Dakota State in the 1st round, winning just 68-60, but could very easily make a run to the Final Four.
The Indiana Hoosiers are poised to make a run. Indiana features a strong front line, led by freshman Cody Zeller and junior Christian Watford. The Hoosiers are one of two teams to defeat the Kentucky this year, defeating the Wildcats on a buzzer beater three pointer. Indiana will likely have to win against Kentucky again if they want to reach the Final Four.
Virginia Commonwealth shocked the nation last year with a run to the Final Four. Can they do it again? The Rams return just one starter from last year’s squad, but are still dangerous. Just ask Wichita State, who were upset by VCU in the first round.
The West Region is headlined by the home-state MSU Spartans, and features two of the hottest teams in college basketball.
No. 1 Seed
The Michigan State Spartans are primed for another Final Four run. The Spartans have flourished under head coach Tom Izzo’s trademark style of rebounding and defense, clinching a share of the Big Ten Regular Season Championship, and winning the Big Ten Tournament.
Michigan State played the toughest schedule in college basketball this season, which should prepare the for March. Versatile senior leader Draymond Green, who averages 16.1 points per game, along with 10.4 rebounds, has rallied this team after last year’s disappointing season. The Spartans are hungry for another Final Four.
The Missouri Tigers feature a high-powered offense, averaging 80.3 points per game. They are entering the tournament hot, riding a five game winning streak including a victory over No. 11 Baylor in the Big 12 Tournament Championship Game.
The Louisville Cardinals are another hot team, after winning the grueling Big East Conference Tournament. Watch out for Senegal native Gorgui Dieng, who can a force at center. Only a sophomore, he averages nearly a double-double with 9.4 points and 9.1 rebounds.
The Marquette Golden Eagles turned in a dominating performance against BYU in the first round, defeating the Cougars 88-68. Senior forward Jae Crowder paces the Golden Eagles, averaging 17.4 points and 8.1 rebounds.
The Virginia Cavaliers could pull off some upsets thanks to their plodding style of play. The Cavs like slow down the game, which could help them against more athletic teams. If senior forward Mike Scott has a strong tournament, watch out!