Predicting the Projected Bracket (Feb. 25, 2012)

By Kyle Almekinder
Every week Chris presents the new bracket projections and I follow with its predictions. This week's games made quite a difference in the pairing and what the results could be.

Breaking down the Bracket
Most surprising upset: No. 8 Kansas State over No. 1 Duke. This might be the most surprising any way you draw it up; how can a bubble team knock off Duke with its great 3-point shooting, guard play, and some good size in the front court? Anything is possible. VCU took down mighty Kansas last year with the perimeter shot. I was primarily trying to get something other than all No. 1 seeds in the Final Four and with Kansas State's stranglehold on Missouri (swept the Tigers this year), a similar team relying on the outside shot, the Wildcats could do the same against Duke.
Other notable upsets: No. 6 Wichita State over No. 1 Missouri (similar to Kansas State over Duke), No. 5 Vanderbilt over No. 1 Michigan State (opposite of previous stated scenarios).
Least surprising upset: It's difficult to find one here. A lot of the upsets that occur could be argued as very surprising, but I'll stay with my post from a few weeks ago about Louisville and Long Beach State. The Cardinals are struggling and Long Beach State, albeit a buzzer-beater loss in Omaha to Creighton, is still very dangerous.
Darkhorse Final Four contender: No. 1 Missouri, with its balanced scoring, could potentially get to the Final Four with relative ease if the shots are falling. No. 1 Michigan State and No. 2 Ohio State are teams that can get to New Orleans by slowing down the tempo and forcing shots from opponents. Michigan State's Draymond Green is providing almost 40% shooting from beyond the arc while Ohio State's Jared Sullinger and Aaron Craft are two weapons the Buckeyes use in their scoring. A complete darkhouse could be No. 5 Vanderbilt, but they too rely on the perimeter shot for much of its scoring. Festus Ezeli has been good but not great since his return from a season-opening suspension.
Other notable games: No. 5 Indiana vs. No. 12 VCU; No. 3 Baylor vs. No. 2 North Carolina; No. 1 Syracuse vs. No. 1 North Carolina; No. 6 New Mexico vs. No. 3 Georgetown; No. 7 Mississippi State vs. No. 2 Ohio State; No. 12 Long Beach State vs. No. 4 UNLV.
Champion: Kentucky. It seems as if the title is Kentucky's to lose; the Cats overcame a 13-point deficit on the road at Mississippi State last Tuesday and won by nine. Their stifling defense has forced teams to shoot field goals at only a 37% clip. Marquis Teague is turning into the point guard John Calipari wants for this offense and it's paying off. Senior Darius Miller is making his presence felt in late-game situations with key scores. So far 29 teams have played Kentucky, several teams get Kentucky rattled, and only one has won (Indiana on a last-second shot). I don't see this train stopping anytime soon.