The West Region, headlined by Michigan State, will prove to be either the first or second most competitive bracket in the 2012 NCAA Tournament.
Michigan State (21/10 odds to win the West bracket) will have no problems taking down Long Island (200/1 win the West Region) in the first round, but a likely second round showdown versus Memphis (14/1 win the West Region) will be a completely different story. Everyone seems to have a different opinion on whether or not the Tigers are a legitimate team, but here are the facts: this team won 11 of 12 to close out the year, it captured the C-USA Title and it finished with a solid 26-8 final mark. Questions about how solid the wins were and the level of competition that Memphis played against are valid; however, you can rest assured that Tom Izzo and Co. won’t look past this group.
Despite Louisville’s (7/1 win the West Region) undeniably impressive run through the Big East Tournament, questions remain about whether four wins to close out the year is enough to make Rick Pitino’s bunch contenders. And even though they’ll likely have no trouble getting past Davidson (100/1 win the West Region) in the first round, Long Beach State (65/1 win the West Region) is poised to be one of this tournament’s sleepers to get to the Sweet 16.
Marquette (7/1 win the West Region) has an easy path to the Sweet 16 so long as it doesn’t let Murray State (25/1 win the West Region) replicate any of its Ohio Valley Conference magic here, but either Missouri (9/4 win the West Region) or Florida (14/1 win the West Region) could send this squad packing. The Gators have the toughest first round matchup of anyone in this region, and it wouldn’t be at all surprising for Virginia to completely throw them off their game with that grueling-to-watch turtle pace style of play. And then, of course, if and when Florida advances, it immediately runs into brick wall of Missouri team that was very close to being a No. 1 seed in this tournament.
Michigan State and Missouri will likely meet for the privilege of getting out of this bracket, but both Marquette and Florida have the potential to surprise folks.
2012 West Bracket Betting Odds – click image to bet or see latest odds
(found at Bovada in the NCAA Tournament future odds – 3/13/2012)