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5 Teams That Could Be Big Sleepers In The 2012 NCAA Tournament

Submitted by on March 13, 2012 – 11:56 amNo Comment

Did you fill out your 2012 NCAA Tournament bracket yet? No? Well, why the heck not? The play-in games for the tourney start tonight. So, if you’re still trying to decide who to pick in your bracket, you’re probably overthinking things a little too much. Now, I can’t really criticize you. Because, like you, I haven’t filled out my bracket yet, either. I usually rush through it right after the tournament seeds are announced. But that hasn’t worked out for me the last few years, so I’ve taken my time in selecting teams this year. And with that in mind, I decided to use today’s sport entry to tell you who I’m thinking about selecting. And, more specifically, the sleepers I’m thinking about selecting.

If any of these hit, you can contact me on Facebook to give me a cut of your winnings (ha!). And, if they don’t? Well, I’ve got four words for you: It ain’t my fault. Now, let’s cut to the chase. Here are the five teams that I think could be big sleepers during this year’s tournament:

1. No. 14 New Mexico State: I watched NMSU play on Saturday night (clearly a pretty crazy Saturday night for me!) and they’ve got a bunch of things going for them. They’re big, they’re quick, they can score in bunches, and, maybe most importantly, they’re playing an Indiana team in the first round that got banged up in the Big 10 Tournament. That—coupled with a potential second-round matchup against either Wichita State or VCU—has them penciled into the second weekend of the tournament in my bracket.

2. No. 8 Kansas State: Okay, okay, so No. 8 isn’t really an upset in the first round. But I’m thinking long-term here. I think that KSU can knock off a Syracuse team that didn’t get challenged much outside of the Big East this season in the second round. I’m also thinking that they can beat any of the four teams they’d meet in the Sweet 16 round round and whoever they’d have to play in the Elite 8 as well. Does that mean I’m taking them to win all the way through the Final 4? Eh, no. But I’ll pencil them in as having a great chance to win three games in this tournament, which would be impressive for a No. 8 seed.

3. No. 12 Long Beach State: Remember the name Casper Ware. I have a feeling you’re going to be hearing it a lot in the tournament. Especially since LBSU drew New Mexico in the first round—this is a classic No. 12 over a No. 5 upset!—and would then face an inconsistent Louisville team if they won that game. I don’t see them being able to best Michigan State in the Sweet 16. But I do think they can make it up to that point.

4. No. 10 West Virginia: Although they’re a 10-seed, WVU is actually favored right now to beat No. 7 Gonzaga. So the upsets wouldn’t actually start until round 2 when the Mountaineers face off against Ohio State. That’s a tough matchup for them. But if anyone can do it that early in the tournament, it’s a tough WVU team that would be ready to handle Jared Sullinger & Co. thanks to all the Big East battles they endured this season.

5. No. 12 California: This could end up being my worst pick, because Cal has to beat South Florida in a play-in game just to be included in the actual bracket. But, if they can win that game, they’ve got the potential to upset Temple. They could also handle Michigan in the next game, too. Don’t be fooled by the weak Pac-12 conference that Cal played in. At times, Cal looked brilliant this year. If that team shows up—as opposed to the one that lost to Colorado in the Pac-12 semifinals—they could be a really solid pick.

Now, tell me: Who are your sleepers? Everybody’s got them. Let’s hear about ‘em.

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