An early projection of the 2012 NCAA tournament bracket


We just finished another great NCAA Tournament. Ready for more? Sure. So why not take an early look at March Madness – 2012. Yes, there’s a lot we don’t know. Several players will decided whether to make a leap to the NBA or return to college. It may be especially challenging this year with the threat of an NBA lockout. That in mind, here’s a not-too-serious, but fun look ahead at what we might see on Selection Sunday next March. It’s a good thing these things are actually decided on the court.

Based on what we know and/or anticipate … our No. 1 seeds are Kentucky, North Carolina, Syracuse, and Ohio State. Connecticut, the defending champs, open as a 2 seed.

NOTE: In the 68-team format you will notice two pairing games that represent the First Four pairings. In this bracket the First Four games would be … South Carolina vs. Dayton | Virginia vs. BYU | UT-San Antonio vs. NC-Ashville | Hampton vs. Tx-Southern. The final four at-large teams are paired along with the teams seeded 65-68 on the S-curve. The matchups are indicated in the bracket below.


Greensborgo   Louisville
1) North Carolina   1) Kentucky
16) Hampton / Tx-Southern              16) NC-Asheville / UT-San Antonio
8  Colorado   8  USC
9) Georgia   9) Georgetown
Portland   Nashville
5) Marquette   5) Texas A-M
12) Harvard   12) Maryland
4) Wisconsin   4) Memphis
13) Creighton   13) Kent State
Louisville   Columbus
6) Butler   6) Missouri
11) Illinois   11) Washington State
3) Vanderbilt   3) Michigan
14) Wofford   14) Bucknell
Pittsburgh   Nashville
7) George Mason   7) Xavier
10) Kansas State   10) New Mexico
2) Connecticut   2) Louisville
15) Florida-Atlantic   15) Murray State
SOUTHWEST – St. Louis   WEST – Phoenix
Pittsburgh   Pittsburgh
1) Syracuse   1) Ohio State
16) Montana   16) UC-Santa Barbara
8  Michigan State   8  West Virginia
9) Temple   9) Washington
Portland   Columbus
5) Alabama   5) Gonzaga
12) Virginia / BYU   12) South Carolina / Dayton  
4) UCLA   4) Cincinnati
13) Utah State   13) Belmont
Omaha   Albuquerque
6) Florida   6) Pittsburgh
11) California   11) VCU
3) Kansas   3) Arizona
14) Iona   14) Long Island
Greensboro   Albuquerque
7) Villanova   7) Florida State
10) Purdue   10) Wichita State
2) Duke   2) Texas
15) Vermont   15) Oral Roberts


NOTES on the BRACKET: Kentucky is the overall No. 1 seed followed by North Carolina, Syracuse, and Ohio State.

Last Five teams in (at large): Maryland, BYU, South Carolina, Virginia, Dayton

First Five teams out (at large): Notre Dame, Old Dominion, Clemson, St. John’s, Duquesne

Also considered (at large): Virginia Tech, Penn State, Nebraska, Arkansas, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Indiana, Marshall, Tulsa, St. Mary’s, San Francisco, Hofstra, Indiana State, UW-Milwaukee, Detroit, Western Michigan, Akron, Mississippi State, Colorado State, San Diego State, Richmond, UAB, UTEP, Oakland

No. 14 Cal goes 0-2 in Las Vegas Invitational

Jaylen Brown
AP Photo/Ben Margot
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After midnight on the east coast on Thanksgiving, No. 14 Cal blew a 15 point second half lead against San Diego State, allowing the Aztecs to use a 30-6 run to put away the game and advance to the final of the Las Vegas Invitational. That’s the same San Diego State team had scored 43 points in a loss to Arkansas-Little Rock last week.

Not 24 hours later, the Golden Bears were shredded defensively by the Richmond Spiders, losing 94-90 in the consolation game of a four-team tournament they were considered to be the heavy favorite in.

It’s a disappointing two-game stretch for Cal, who entered the season as a Pac-12 favorite and had looked the part for the first four games of the season.

And the issue appears to be on the defensive end of the floor.

Richmond is a good Atlantic 10 team. Terry Allen and Marshall Wood are high-major big men, Shawn’Dre Jones is a jitterbug at the point and Chris Mooney runs a Princeton-esque system that is very difficult to prepare for without a day in-between games. So it’s not really surprising that the Spiders gave Cal a fight.

But 94 points?

On the heels of giving up 44 points in the second half against the offensively-challenged Aztecs?

That’s a problem, one that I’m sure that Cuonzo Martin is going to address this week in practice. Martin has managed to put together a roster that is build for small-ball, with four talented perimeter players surrounding a first round pick in the post. But that’s not the style that he’s known for. Martin played his college ball at Purdue in the Gene Keady days. He cut his teeth as a head coach at Missouri State in the Missouri Valley. His team’s at Tennessee were known for being tough and physical defensively.

That’s how Martin coaches, which is part of the reason Cal had such hype entering the year.

The talents of Tyrone Wallace, Jaylen Brown, Ivan Rabb, Jabari Bird and Jordan Mathews on a team with a coach that gets teams to defend the way Martin does? It’s no surprise that pundits would be optimistic.

But as of now, they have some work to do defensively if they want to live up to that hype.

Tyler Ulis injured as No. 1 Kentucky beats South Florida

Tyler Ulis, Ky Howard
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MIAMI (AP) Jamal Murray had 21 points and No. 1 Kentucky scored the final 15 points of the first half on the way to beating South Florida 84-63 in the HoopHall Miami Invitational on Friday.

Skal Labissiere added 17 points for the Wildcats (6-0), who led by as many as 31. Charles Matthews scored 11 points and Isaiah Briscoe finished with seven assists for Kentucky, now a winner of 37 consecutive regular-season games and 39 in a row against unranked opponents.

Chris Perry scored 14 points for USF (1-5), which has lost 18 consecutive games against teams ranked in the Top 25. Jaleel Cousins added 12 points on 5-for-6 shooting, and Jahmal McMurray scored 11 points for the Bulls.

Kentucky played the second half without starting guard Tyler Ulis, who departed with a right elbow injury after getting hurt while fighting for a ball loose on the floor.

Kentucky announced after the game that the injury was a hyperextension of the elbow and that he will be day-to-day.

The Bulls were within 27-21 with 6 minutes left in the first half after McMurray banked in a 3-pointer only a few feet away from where John Calipari was standing, and the look of anguish on the Kentucky coach’s face was clear.

It didn’t last long.

The Wildcats scored on seven of their next nine possessions and the game was over by halftime, Kentucky going into the break with a 42-21 lead.

It was a reunion for plenty of people on both benches. Calipari squared off with his former assistant Orlando Antigua, now in his second year leading USF. Antigua’s staff includes another former Calipari assistant in Rod Strickland, plus former Kentucky basketball staff members Mike Malone and Dominic Lombardi.

So the staffs have plenty of familiarity. On the court, there was plenty of disparity. Kentucky finished with a commanding 23-6 edge in points off turnovers and finished with 16 assists to the Bulls’ six.