NCAA Tournament Predictions 2012: Picking the Sweet 16, Elite 8, & Championship Game

Cramming for your bracket? Here are your super-quick winners from the Sweet 16 on. Picks from Round One and Round Two can be found HERE and HERE. Best of luck!

SWEET SIXTEEN


#1 Kentucky vs #5 Wichita State
Remember how I said Kentucky is full of NBA players? I love Wichita State's team this year, but they're not getting past this group of Wildcats.
PICK: Kentucky

#2 Duke vs #3 Baylor
I'll be totally honest with you, when I was filling out the bracket, no game was more difficult to pick than this one. Baylor's ceiling is higher than Duke's, but their floor is lower, too. If the best version of both teams show up, I think Baylor wins. Even if the best version doesn't show up, the fact that the Bears have a little more margin for error is enough for me to take them here.
PICK: Baylor

#1 Syracuse vs #4 Wisconsin
Teams that make it this far have to feel good about their chances to beat a Fab Melo-less Orange team, and Wisconsin is surely capable of pulling it off with their terrific defense and ball-control offense. All that being said, Syracuse will have had some time to figure out how they'll play without Melo and their size and ahleticism should be enough.
PICK: Syracuse

#2 Ohio State vs #3 Florida State
Florida State won't be nearly as effective against Jared Sullinger as they were against J'Covan Brown. Even if Sullinger's off, Aaron Craft and William Buford will do enough to win.
PICK: Ohio State

#1 Michigan State vs #4 Louisville
Rebounding. The Spartans have it. It will do the trick.
PICK: Michigan State

#2 Missouri vs #6 Murray State
The Racers' journey will end here, as Missouri's uber-talented backcourt will dominate control of the ball, keeping Murray State out of rhythm and off-pace, which is the key to beating them, methinks.

#1 Carolina vs #5 Temple
Remember what I said about Kentucky? The Tar Heels have that same, everybody's-going-to-the-NBA fel, and even though they aren't always on the same page, Temple doesn't have the horses to compete with 'em.
PICK: North Carolina

#2 Kansas vs #3 Georgetown
Georgetown is the most vulnerable 3-seed in the tournament. Kansas is good enough to win it all. That difference will be made clear in this one.
PICK: Kansas

ELITE EIGHT


#1 Kentucky vs #3 Baylor
Baylor's size will match up very well with Kentucky, giving them a legitimate chance to win, but the Wildcats have discipline that the Bears have lacked, which is an odd thing to say, seeing as discipline has often been John Calipari's undoing. they get past that here.
PICK: Kentcky

#1 Syracuse vs #2 Ohio State
Fab Melo vs Jared Sullinger would have been gorgeous. Unfortuately, it's not a matchup we'll get to see, and Ohio State will find themselves i the Final Four.

#1 Michigan State vs #2 Missouri
It's a classic frontcourt vs backcourt situation here, and Missouri's guard strength should be enough to compensate for losing the rebounding battle.
PICK: Missouri

#1 North Carolina vs #2 Kansas
CBS is drooling about the possibility of another Roy Williams Bowl, after Kansas crushed UNC in the tourney a few years ago. Bill Self has picked up where Williams left off when he moved on from Kansas to Carolina, and if Kansas gets hot, they're more than able to take down the Heels. Thomas Robinson is gonna give Tyler Zeller everything he can handle, and more, but the Jayhawks aren't gonna have an answer for Harrison Barnes, either, and he's one of the best scorers in the country.
PICK: North Carolina

FINAL FOUR

#1 Kentucky vs #2 Missouri
This one is gonna be good. Missouri might be the team best suited to beat Kentucky on the whole left side of the bracket. If you're over-matched in the paint, the best way to overcome it is with terrific guard play and, like I've said before, the Tigers have that in spades. Unfortunately for them, this is probably the best team that Calipari's ever had and he's coached more raw basketball talent than anyone since Dean Smith.
PICK: Kentucky

#1 North Carolina vs #2 Ohio State
The key in this one will be how well Kendall Marshall and Aaron Craft play each other. There's not a better up-tempo guard i the nation than Kendall Marshall, but Craft is extremely good in half-court sets and Marshall ain't a great on-ball defender. It's easy to see Craft winning this matchup if the pace is slowed enough, but no team makes you pay for lapses in focus as much as the Tar Heels do, and there will be enough of those to set Carolna up for a rematch in the championship game.
PICK: North Carolina

CHAMPIONSHIP GAME


#1 Kentucky vs #1 North Carolina
When these two teams met earlier this season, Kentucky eeked out a one-point victory when John Henson's final shot wa blocked b Anthony Davis. I watched every second of that game and came away stunned by just how evenly they were matched. If it comes down to the Wildcats and Tar Heels in the final, we're in for one of the great title games of all time. This one will feature as much pro-level talent as any college game you've ever seen and I imagine that the pace will be blinding. This is one of the rare games where you can score in the 80s and lose. I think both teams get there, but Carolina will make the free throws down the stretch to ice what is sure to be an extremely close game.

Stay with us here at SB Nation Seattle for NCAA Bracket Scores and Updates throughout the day in this StoryStream.

Head over to our NCAA Predictions StoryStream this morning to check out SBN Seattle's crack team of bracketologists' picks and game previews, because we know there's a ton of games to keep track of. Finally, if you haven't yet, head to SB Nation's Printable Bracket StoryStream to print one out for yourself.


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