The SFBE 2012 Bracket Challenge is shaping up to be the most intense NCAA tournament bracket pool in the history of man. Knowledgeable basketball minds from all corners of the internet have converged on the challenge already. And if you haven't yet signed up, we urge you get going immediately before things tip off. Don't know how? Do this:
1.) Sign up for a free Yahoo! account if you don't already have one, 2.) Go to Yahoo!'s main bracket page and select "Join a Group" from the tabs at the top of the page, and 3.) Enter in the league ID# (124563) and password (billy) to gain access.
Since there's still plenty of time to make ill-conceived changes to your online bracket and do something that you will immediately regret at 12:29pm EST on Thursday, here are five upsets that we especially like and think you need to be wary of:
Listed from most to least debilitating after the jump...
(13) Montana over (4) Wisconsin
The Badgers grade out as the country's sixth-best team according to our beloved KenPom rankings, but we can't help but feel they are still the weakest of the No. 4 seeds in the field. Montana is no joke, and won 25 games during the year along with knocking off another budding Cinderella in Long Beach State back in November. The Grizzlies also haven't lost a game since January 14th, and have the most efficient defense of any of the No. 13 seeds in the dance. It's a bold move, but we're putting Bo Ryan's Wisconsin Badgers on serious upset alert. Also, a grizzly could definitely eat a badger.
(12) Long Beach State over (5) New Mexico
The 49ers are a well-known commodity around these parts, and were an absolutely brutal draw for Steve Alford's Lobos in round two. Guard Casper Ware measures in at just 5-foot-10, but those who have seen him play know he'll be one of the most exciting players to watch on day one of the tournament, and is liable to go off for 30 with a handful of makes from the perimeter any time he steps on the floor. It's impossible to ignore the fact that the 49ers have already played games against elite competition like North Carolina (lost by six), Kansas (lost by eight), Louisville (lost by 13), Creighton (lost by two), and San Diego State (lost by four), let alone how the 49ers actually hung around admirably in each defeat. You really think LBSU will be intimidated by the stage, or by what New Mexico brings to the table? Not a chance. They've seen it a dozen times this season.
(11) Colorado State over (6) Murray State
Murray State's incredible campaign deserves all the respect in the world. But are we sure it really prepared them to make a deep tournament run like most No. 6 seeds would aspire to? The Rams are extremely dangerous for being one of the last teams in the dance, and while not really beating anyone of note, will still become the fourth toughest opponent the Racers have faced this season. Think about that for a second: Murray State is 30-1, but this game with Colorado State is guaranteed, statistically anyway, to be the third or fourth-toughest game it will have played all year. Now throw in the enormity of the stage and things start to get a little hazy for a Murray State team that played in a TON of close games all season long. The Racers deserved every bit of this six seed (and probably should have landed a five), but this game will feel like an 8 vs. 9 when the ball finally tips.
(12) California over (5) Temple
Sure the Bears haven't even reached this point yet, but consider this a slap in the face for USF basketball, and not necessarily some unanimous praise of Cal's tourney ability. The thing about facing Temple though is that the Owls just don't seem to be equipped to do much damage in March, and the Bears' stable of guards matches up quite well with Fran Dunphy's squad at both ends. Both teams are strong enough from the perimeter to keep this game close, but leadership, and clutch shots from Jorge Gutierrez and Allen Crabbe will be what puts California over the top.
(10) Xavier over (7) Notre Dame
The Musketeers entered the season as a Final Four contender, and despite making the tournament with a lower seed than we all expected, seem to be written off as a team without the drive and motivation to make a run. The thing is, a slower, less athletic squad like Notre Dame is actually one heck of a favorable draw for Chris Mack's team, and Xavier should be able to ride seniors Tu Holloway and Mark Lyons to victory in this game.
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