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2012 NCAA Tournament Bracket: Breaking Down The Midwest


Midwest Regional General Information:

Regional Site: St. Louis, Missouri

Conference Tournament Champions: 6

At Large Teams: 12

Power Conference Teams: 9

Mid Majors: 9

Pods: Omaha

Interesting Facts:

  • The big thing that will be pointed out will be that UNC and Kansas have a chance to meet in the Elite 8, a rematch of the 2008 Final Four
  • Three of the five Cousy finalists are in the midwest, with Kendall Marshall (UNC) and Matt Dellavedova (St. Marys) joining Tyshawn
  • Kansas has the longest active streak of tournament appearances in the country, now at 23.
  • Detroit is the second worst three point shooting team in the entire tournament (326th overall), shooting 29.5% from beyond the arc, better only than....
  • Alabama, who is ranked 331st overall, shooting 28.5% from three.
  • By KenPom rank, play-in participants Lamar and Vermont are the best two 16 seeds, at 102 and 120
  • Also by KenPom rank, Belmont and Purdue are the highest ranked double digit seeds, at 23 and 24

Team Capsules

#1 Seed North Carolina Tar Heels


Bid: At large, ACC

Location: Chapel Hill, NC

Record: 29-5 (14-2)

KenPom Adj. Offensive Efficiency: 13

KenPom Adj. Defensive Efficiency: 12

Key Offensive Stat: 68.2 FT% (214th)

Key Defensive Stat: 18.5 turnover% forced (267th)

Player to Know: Tyler Zeller

The #1 rated team in the preseason, Carolina is deep and talented. If John Henson is healthy enough to play, they have an elite defensive rebounder and shot blocker.Tyler Zeller is maybe the most underrated player in the country, an unthinkable notion for a player from Carolina. The Junior has an offensive rating of 122, draws 6.5 fouls per 40 minutes (28th nationally) and shoots 81% from the line. The big key though is Harrison Barnes. He can take over games with his scoring and shoots 38% from three, but too often he doesn't impact the game in other ways.


KU-Roy, part 2?

Let's hope Roy remembers to

Bring back the sticker

#2 Seed Kansas Jayhawks


Bid: At-Large, Big 12

Location: Lawrence, Kansas

Record: 27-6 (16-2)

KenPom Adj. Offensive Efficiency:8

KenPom Adj. Defensive Efficiency:8

Key Offensive Stat: 54.1% 2 pt shooting (9th)

Key Defensive Stat: 40% 2 pt shooting allowed (2nd)

Player to Know: Tyshawn Taylor

Thomas Robinson is my current player of the year, but guards win in March. Tyshawn will have to be at his best if Kansas is going to make it to New Orleans. In terms of opponents to avoid, look for teams that can go small, shoot the three and force turnovers. An interesting conundrum will (hopefully) present itself in the second round, as St. Marys is a much better matchup, but I think we'd all rather play a major conference team than a good mid major.


Bucknell and Bradley

Let's hope we dont see Belmont

The next of the Bs

#3 Seed Georgetown Hoyas


Bid: At Large, Big East

Location: Washington DC

Record: 23-8 (12-6)

KenPom Adj. Offensive Efficiency: 47

KenPom Adj. Defensive Efficiency: 7

Key Offensive Stat: 34.3% 3PT% (166th)

Key Defensive Stat: 26.6% 3PT% against (1st)

Player to Know: Henry Sims

The 6'10" Sims led the Hoyas in assist rate at 27.2%, but he turned it over roughly as much (22%). Freshman Otto Porter has been great, with a 54% eFG and leading the team in defensive rebounding rate. In terms of a potential KU-Georgetown rematch in the Sweet 16, while I am worried about the rematch/overconfidence factor, the fact that the coaching staff has seen Georgetown already makes me very confident.


Saw them in Maui

They hope that next time we play

They're presidential

#4 Seed Michigan Wolverines


Bid: At Large, Big 10

Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan

Record: 24-9 (13-5)

KenPom Adj. Offensive Efficiency: 21

KenPom Adj. Defensive Efficiency: 51

Key Offensive Stat: 54.2% two point FG (8th)

Key Defensive Stat: 6% block rate (301st)

Player to Know: Trey Burke

Michigan is the weakest of the 4 seeds, and the only one outside the top 20. They took the 8th most threes in the country, but were 7th in the Big 10 in three point shooting. Oddly enough they were 173rd nationally at forcing turnovers, but best in Big 10 play. Freshman Trey Burke is probably a bit better than his statistics suggest, as the Freshman has just a 50.6% eFG but is the only Wolverine who can consistently get his own shot. Zach Novak is their main three point threat, having made 52 of his 125 attempts (41.6%) on the season.


Playing Ohio

Not Brady Hoke's Ohio

Ohio Bobcats

#5 Seed Temple Owls

Bid: At Large, Atlantic 10

Location: Philadelphia

Record: 24-7 (13-3)

KenPom Adj. Offensive Efficiency: 20

KenPom Adj. Defensive Efficiency: 90

Key Offensive Stat: 40.2 3 pt% (9th)

Key Defensive Stat:19.4% TO forced (215th)

Player to Know: Juan Fernandez

Fernandez's stats don't jump out at you too much, but he's a Senior point guard and those a huge to have in the tournament. The Owls don't take a lot of threes (202nd in 3PA/FGA) but as you see above they make a ton of them. One interesting note is that though they were the best team in the Atlantic 10 at taking care of the ball, on an individual level they have no one great at it, but no one terrible either: everyone in their top 6 has a turnover rate between 15 and 20%. They could be vulnerable against Cal in a 5/12 matchup.



Juan Fernandez: El buho

Spanish for owl

#6 Seed San Diego State Aztecs


Bid: At Large, Mountain West

Location: um, San Diego?

Record: 26-7 (10-4)

KenPom Adj. Offensive Efficiency: 83

KenPom Adj. Defensive Efficiency: 40

Key Offensive Stat: 31.3% offensive rebounding (208th)

Key Defensive Stat: 18.9% TO forced (239th)

Player to Know: Chase Tapley

The Aztecs are probably the most confusing team in the field this year, as they are currently ranked 52nd in the Mountain West, yet were league co-champs. Jamaal Franklin is the guy who gets the most pub, but Tapley barely turns it over, is a good perimeter defender and is their best three point shooter at 43%. They will probably be underdogs in their first round game against NC State, but they've made a living winning games they "shouldn't" this year, so don't count them out in this one.


Bad KenPom; win games

Aztecs are as confusing

As they are boring

#7 Seed St. Mary's


Bid: Automatic, WCC

Location: Moraga, CA

Record: 27-5 (14-2)

KenPom Adj. Offensive Efficiency: 22

KenPom Adj. Defensive Efficiency: 103

Key Offensive Stat: 54.7% 2pt (6th)

Key Defensive Stat: 18.5% TO forced (266th)

Player to Know: Matthew Dellavedova

Dellavedova, a Cousy finalist, had a 33% assist rate and just a 20% turnover rate. Senior Clint Steindl has the 6th best offensive rating in the country and shoots 42.6% from three. The Gaels could be a tough 2nd round matchup for Kansas on the rationale that tough mid majors always make me nervous, but objectively it's tough to see them giving Kansas a huge problem because of their struggles defensively. They do take a lot of threes however, and their three point shooting has improved over the course of the year, so that's something to keep an eye on.



Australian for basketball

Better than Fosters

#8 Seed Creighton Blue Jays


Bid: At-large, Missouri Valley

Location: Omaha, NE

Record: 28-5 (14-4)

KenPom Adj. Offensive Efficiency: 5

KenPom Adj. Defensive Efficiency: 183

Key Offensive Stat: 58.3% eFG (1st)

Key Defensive Stat: 26.1% off. reb. allowed (8th)

Player to Know: Doug McDermott

A potential second round matchup with North Carolina will feature the best player from Ames High School two years ago, and it will also feature Harrison Barnes. McDermott ranks 28th nationally in offensive rating, 67th in usage rate, 6th in eFG, and 3rd in true shooting percentage. Creighton doesn't turn it over a lot, but they also don't force any. They do however shoot the three extremely well, shooting 42% from behind the arc. They won't be able to stop Zeller inside and probably won't be able to defend Kendall Marshall in a potential second round meeting, but they have the firepower to make it to the sweet 16.


Jays all O, no D

Their upcoming mission? To

Teach how to Dougie

#9 Seed Alabama Crimson Tide


Bid: At-large, SEC

Location: Tuscaloosa, AL

Record: 21-11 (9-7)

KenPom Adj. Offensive Efficiency: 109

KenPom Adj. Defensive Efficiency: 9

Key Offensive Stat: 28.5% 3 pt (331st)

Key Defensive Stat: 28.35 3pt allowed (5th)

Player to Know: Trevor Releford

Alabama has overcome suspensions and some up and down play to get a decent first round matchup (KenPom has Alabama as slight favorites, though I like Creighton a bit more). The Crimson Tide have an interesting matchup with Creighton, as it is an all offense v. all defense affair. Generally I think offense wins in the tournament, but Creighton barely forces turnovers and that is the Tide's main weakness on offense. They do shoot twos very well though, so with the opportunity to shoot more they could beat Creighton, though their path would end there.


Hoops Ds like gridders

Too bad they can't score at all

Where's Trent Richardson?

#10 Seed Purdue Boilermakers


Bid: At Large, Big 10

Location: West Lafayette, Indiana

Record: 21-12 (10-8)

KenPom Adj. Offensive Efficiency:6

KenPom Adj. Defensive Efficiency:100

Key Offensive Stat: 13.5% TO rate (1st)

Key Defensive Stat: 49.1% 2 PT allowed (222nd)

Player to Know: Robbie Hummel

Hummel is one of the best stories of the year. After losing his last two seasons to ACL injuries he returned this year to average 16.3 points and 7 rebounds per game. His shooting percentages aren't great, with just a 48.4% eFG, but he does shoot 37% from three and has the lowest turnover rate in the country. Elsewhere, Ryne Smith (43.8%) and DJ Byrd (43%) are players to watch from three. Purdue often goes small and is 259th in effective height, but rather than that causing matchup problems for opponents it has mostly caused matchup problems for them. Purdue struggled against teams with good post players, getting swept by Michigan State, losing twice to Ohio State (once in the Big 10 tournament) and losing by 17 at home to Indiana. Bodes well for a possible second round matchup, though I am wary of how well they shoot the three and their slow pace.


They make tons of threes?

I'll need some boilermakers

If Kansas plays them

#11 Seed NC State Wolfpack


Bid: At-large, ACC

Location: Raleigh, NC

Record: 22-12 (9-7)

KenPom Adj. Offensive Efficiency: 33

KenPom Adj. Defensive Efficiency: 75

Key Offensive Stat: 26.1 3PA/FGA (316th)

Key Defensive Stat: 18.7% TOs forced (257th)

Player to Know: CJ Leslie

The Wolfpack were screwed in their ACC tournament semi where they lost to North Carolina, but rewarded by being the final team announced on selection Sunday, prompting a phenomenal celebration. Leslie is an athletic and talented player who is shooting 53% from two and grabbing 20.5% of the available defensive rebounds. They don't shoot a lot of threes, with Scott Wood (41%) having taken almost as many as the rest of his team combined. The Wolfpack are actually favored over SDSU, so if you're looking for an upset that isn't an upset to impress your friends.


Game in Columbus

They hope to do what Chris did

To some Indians

#12 Seed California Golden Bears


Bid: At large, Pac 12

Location: Berkeley, CA

Record: 27-7

KenPom Adj. Offensive Efficiency: 50

KenPom Adj. Defensive Efficiency:21

Key Offensive Stat: 34.4 FTA/FGA (221st)

Key Defensive Stat: 27.1% off. rebs. allowed (23rd)

Player to Know: Allen Crabbe

Senior Jorge Gutierrez gets most of the publicity, but Crabbe takes more shots and has a better eFG (54% to 48%). Cal uses their bench in Kansas-esque proportions, but unlike the Jayhawks don't have the starpower to compensate. Despite making their living inside, Cal doesn't earn many trips to the line. If they advance out of the play in game, they'll have a short treck (from Dayton, that is) to Nashville for a date with the Temple Owls.


Think I added wrong

I counted 9 mid majors

What about Pac 12?

#12 Seed South Florida Bulls


Bid: At large, Big East

Location: Tampa, FL

Record: 20-13 (12-6)

KenPom Adj. Offensive Efficiency: 178

KenPom Adj. Defensive Efficiency:16

Key Offensive Stat: 22.9% TO Rate (303rd)

Key Defensive Stat: 44.3% eFG against (15th)

Player to Know: Ron Anderson

I wanted to pick nobody, because this team is a dumpster fire offensively. Anderson, a Senior, is probably the best of the bunch. He plays in just 65% of the team's minutes and doesn't shoot a lot, but he does hav ea 54% eFG and a 63.7 FT rate. Sadly he doesn't shoot very well at the line, just 49.5%. Their undoing likely figures to be turnovers however. I think you can win with a mediocre turnover rate, but the Bulls were the worst team in the Big East at taking care of the ball, and only 1 Bull has a TO rate under 15%. Another solid strategy for defenders is to let Victor Rudd shoot it from deep: the Sophomore has taken 129 threes and made fewer than 30% of them.


Bulls were on bubble

Team features much D, but they're

Downright offensive

#13 Ohio Bobcats


Bid: Automatic, MAC

Location: Athens, OH

Record:27-7 (11-5)

KenPom Adj. Offensive Efficiency: 114

KenPom Adj. Defensive Efficiency: 50

Key Offensive Stat: 33.3% 3 PT (216th)

Key Defensive Stat: 26.7% TO forced (2nd)

Player to Know: DJ Cooper

Cooper has the 17th best assist rate in the country (37.3%) and has just an 18.1% turnover rate. He also has taken 222 threes and made only 31% of them. Sophomore Nick Kellogg is your best bet for one of those, as he has made 42% of his threes on the season. Because Ohio struggles so much from behind the arc an upset is not very likely, but they do defend the three well and with the Wolverines relying on the three quite a bit they do have a shot.


With Kemba Walker

They should be an upset threat

Wait...not those Bobcats?

#14 Seed Belmont Bruins

Belmont_medium Bid: Automatic, Atlantic Sun

Location: Nashville, TN

Record:27-7 (16-2)

KenPom Adj. Offensive Efficiency: 12

KenPom Adj. Defensive Efficiency:20

Key Offensive Stat: 55.7% eFG (5th)

Key Defensive Stat: 20.9% (139th)

Player to Know: Kerron Johnson

Belmont doesn't use their bench as much as they did last year, but Kerron Johnson has gotten a lot more playing time because of it, to the benefit of the Bruins. His eFG is a very good 56.9%, but because he gets to the line so much (21st best free throw rate nationally) and converts at the line so well (78%) his true shooting percentage is 63.1%, which is the 48th best mark in the country. While Belmont looks like a trendy sleeper pick much like they were last year (and I'd be terrified of playing them) I don't see them getting by Georgetown. They don't force the turnovers they did last year and don't have the size to keep Georgetown from scoring. They do, however, shoot the three even better than they did last year, and would be a very dangerous Sweet 16 opponent if we are fortunate enough to get that far.


Last year's stats darlings

Belmont has less chance this year

Haha, take that nerds

#15 Seed Detroit Titans


Bid: Automatic, Horizon

Location: Detroit

Record: 22-13 (11-7)

KenPom Adj. Offensive Efficiency: 74

KenPom Adj. Defensive Efficiency: 178

Key Offensive Stat: 29.5% 3pt% (326th)

Key Defensive Stat: 22.4% TO forced (63rd)

Player to Know: Eli Holman

McCallum is their McDonalds All-American, but it is Holman who perhaps has the biggest chance to hurt the Jayhawks. He has played only half the year, but has a 120.2 Ortg, a 61.3% eFG, and rebounding rates of 14.5% and 21.4%. He'll go up against one of the best shot blockers in the country and the best defensive rebounder in the country, and you know Kansas will try to get him into foul trouble. If they succeed in doing so early they should have a much easier victory. As for the three point shooting, I think you can look at it in two ways: first, the fact that they don't shoot it well obviously bodes well for us but it also means that they were still able to score well despite not shooting well from three, so if they have a lucky game from behind the arc it could be trouble. The big key on the perimeter will be to keep McCallum out of the lane: he shoots 55.6% from two and draws a lot of fouls, but is shooting just 25% from three. I could see Detroit winning, but I think it will be a game where Kansas is up by 3-5 points at halftime and then goes on a run in the second half to put them away.


Detroit can score well

Will fans copy hockey fans

And throw octopi?

#16 Seed Vermont Catamounts


Bid: Automatic, America East

Location: Burlington, VT


KenPom Adj. Offensive Efficiency: 145

KenPom Adj. Defensive Efficiency: 107

Key Offensive Stat:74.2% FT (34th)

Key Defensive Stat: 45.8% eFG against (41st)

Player to Know: Four McGlynn

Mr. McGlynn owns one of the best names in the NCAA tournament, and one of the better shots as well, as he's made 39% of the 168 threes he's taken on the season. As a team Vermont doesn't shoot the three well, but McGlynn and Senior Matt Glass (41%) are accurate from deep, which perhaps gives them a mini chance of beating North Carolina? OK maybe not. But their defense should hold Lamar in check, and their free throw shooting will give them the edge in a close game, especially since McGlynn, one of their primary ball handlers, shoots 89% from the line.


Vermont guard McGlynn

Why's he take so many threes?

Cause there are no fours.

#16 Seed Lamar Cardinals


Bid: Automatic, Southland

Location: Beaumont, TX

Record: 23-11 (11-5)

KenPom Adj. Offensive Efficiency: 84

KenPom Adj. Defensive Efficiency: 126

Key Offensive Stat: 17.6% TO rate (33rd)

Key Defensive Stat: 46.7% eFG against (75th)

Player to Know: Anthony Miles

Perhaps the biggest myth floating around on the internet is how Pat Knight's rant against his Seniors somehow spurred them to greatness. In reality they were one of the best teams in the league all year, and owned the best offensive efficiency in conference play. The Cardinals are, to my knowledge, the only team in the country to play the #1 and 2 ranked KenPom teams back to back this year, losing by 20 to Ohio State and then 22 to Kentucky. Despite scoring 1.11 points per possession in Southland play, the Cardinals aren't a great offensive team, as they had just a 48.8% eFG in league play and 46.5% overall. They might be able to take care of the ball against Vermont, but that won't continue against North Carolina.


Cards play in Texas

But hope to pull an England

Knighting opponents

The Matchups

#1 North Carolina v. Lamar/Vermont

What To Watch: Don't. But if you want maybe see if Four can pull off a TJ Sorrentine impression

Lamar/Vermont Will Win If: They shoot 90% from behind the arc

UNC Will Win If: They can figure out how to get into the building

#8 Creighton vs. #9 Alabama

What To Watch: All offense v. all defense. Take your soda breaks when Bama has the ball.

Creighton Will Win If: McDermott stays out of foul trouble and can get some open looks

Alabama Will Win If: Creighton struggles shooting the three

#5 Temple vs. #12 Cal/South Florida

What To Watch: Watch how hard Temple roots for South Florida to win the play in

Cal/South Florida Will Win If: Cal will probably be no worse than a pick em vs. the Owls, but each team would need to Limit Temple's three point looks

Temple Will Win If: They play South Florida and/or maybe force a turnover or two for once

#4 Michigan vs. #13 Ohio

What To Watch: What name John Beilein uses to refer to his opponents, as he already uses Ohio for the Buckeyes.

Michigan Will Win If: Trey Burke doesn't have the jitters that come from playing in your first tournament game

Ohio Will Win If: They make a lot of threes, and Michigan has a cold day from three

#6 San Diego St. vs #11 NC State

What To Watch: Whether the Aztecs can continue to defy their poor Pomeroy rating

SDSU Will Win If: Jamaal Franklin doesn't take a lot of threes.

NC State Will Win If: They can keep Franklin off the boards.

#3 Georgetown vs. #14 Belmont

What To Watch: The pace of the game: Georgetown is 294th in Adjusted Tempo and Belmont is 64th

Georgetown Will Win If: They can turn Belmont over. GTown has the best 3 pt defense in the country percentage wise, but they have gotten a bit lucky in that regard. Belmont thrives on taking a lot of threes and not turning it over, so that is a big key

Belmont Will Win If: They can get Hollis Thompson and/or Otto Porter into foul trouble and get some good looks inside

#7 St. Mary's vs. #10 Purdue

What To Watch: How Purdue defends Dellevadova

St. Mary's Will Win If: They can successfully get good looks inside.

Purdue Will Win If: It's not a free throw contest late, or an up and down game

#2 Kansas vs. #15 Detroit

What To Watch: Detroit's three point shooting. It sucks, but so did Bradley's in 2006 (though not as bad as Detroit's this year)

Kansas Will Win If: They keep McCallum out of the lane and get Holman into foul trouble

Detroit Will Win If: Kansas falls in love with the three and doesn't make any

RCT Predictions

Most Likely to Pull an Upset: Belmont over Georgetown, NC State over SDSU, Cal over Temple

Most Likely to Pull a Surprise Run: Purdue

Final Four Favorite: North Carolina

Underseeded: Creighton

Overseeded: San Diego State

Best Team No One Knows About: Purdue