Originally written on Midwest Sports Fans  |  Last updated 3/14/12

As you may have noticed, we’ve gone a little March Madness crazy here at MSF this month. What can I say? It’s what we do.

Personally, it’s my favorite time of the sports year, so why sleep or participate in recreational and/or social activities when there is always more NCAA Tournament analysis that can be done? Right? (Crickets…)

Anyway, with two thrilling First Four games last night, and two more coming tonight, then the always entertaining first full day of games on Thursday, we thought this would be a good time to give you our Final Four picks and sleeper teams.

Tyler Zeller dunks during a practice in the basketball arena on the flight deck aboard Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson. Could there be a North Carolina-Michigan State rematch in the NCAA Title Game? At least one MSF writer thinks so. (Photo by U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class James R. Evans via Wikimedia Commons)

Jerod’s Final Four Picks and Sleeper Teams

As you know, I’ve contributed two sets of bracket predictions: one based strictly on the Four Factors and schedule strength (see here); and a second based on matchup analysis and my own personal gut feelings (see here). I’ve also gone on record with my upset picks for the 2012 NCAA Tournament.

Here is the recap:

“Four Factors” Final Four:

  • Midwest: #2 Kansas
  • South: #1 Kentucky
  • East: #2 Ohio State
  • West: #1 Michigan State

My national champion in this bracket is, of course, Kentucky, who will win any statistical battle you put them in with any team.

My “Gut Feeling” Final Four:

  • Midwest: #1 North Carolina
  • South: #4 Indiana
  • East: #2 Ohio State
  • West: #2 Missouri

My national champion in this bracket is North Carolina, the team with the best combo of size and talent out of the four.

Sleepers:

  • South #10 Xavier: They have excellent, experienced guards in Tu Holloway and Mark Lyons.
  • Midwest #14 Belmont: They are very good offensively and face a Georgetown team in Round 1 that has historically had issues early in Tournaments.
  • West #12 Long Beach State: Dan Monson is an excellent coach and Casper Ware is one of the best players in the Tournament…period.
Andy’s Final Four Picks and Sleeper Teams

Andy submitted his 2012 NCAA Tournament bracket earlier today. His Final Four is as follows:

  • Midwest: #1 North Carolina
  • South: #1 Kentucky
  • East: #2 Ohio State
  • West: #2 Missouri

His national championship pick, which he says made him come close to vomiting, was Kentucky.

Andy’s sleepers are as follow:

  • East #13 Montana: He likes them to beat Wisconsin in Round 1
  • West #13 Davidson: He likes them to eliminate Louisville in Round 1
  • West #5 New Mexico: Andy has Steve Alford’s bunch beating Michigan State in the Sweet 16 and going to the Elite 8.
Chris’ Final Four Picks and Sleeper Teams

Andy is not the only one who has New Mexico making a deep Tournament run. Chris Callaway also likes New Mexico to get to the Elite 8, and he also lists South Dakota State as a sleeper, expecting them to make the Sweet 16.

Here is Chris’ Final Four:

  • Midwest: #2 Kansas
  • South: #1 Kentucky
  • East: #3 Florida State
  • West: #2 Missouri

Chris’ National Championship pick is Kentucky over Kansas.

Jon’s Final Four Picks and Sleeper Teams

Jon Washburn, who has been regaling you all week long with his terrific college basketball What if… series actually predicts the biggest upset of not just the weekend, but the entire history of the Tournament: Jon thinks UNC-Asheville is going to beat the Fab Melo-less Syracuse Orange. Whoa. What if… indeed.

Jon also, like me, lists Belmont as a sleeper team.

Here is Jon’s Final Four:

  • Midwest: #2 Kansas
  • South: #3 Baylor
  • East: #2 Ohio State
  • West: #1 Michigan State

Jon has Baylor beating Kansas in the National Championship game.

But that’s enough with the dudes’ picks. How about a female perspective?

Amanda’s Final Four Picks and Sleeper Teams

Amanda Lawson, who for numerous reasons has started to wisely follow (and root for…don’t let her fool you with the Wisconsin stuff) the Indiana Hoosiers, has chosen last year’s Cinderella as her first round sleeper for this year; she picks VCU to beat Wichita State in the first round.

Her Final Four looks like this:

  • Midwest: #2 Kansas
  • South: #1 Kentucky
  • East: #4 Wisconsin
  • West: #2 Missouri

She chooses Kansas over Kentucky for the National Championship.

Brian’s Final Four Picks and Sleeper Teams

Brian, the lone Duke fan among our writing staff, really must have had a hard time submitting his picks…but at least we know he really believes it to go public with such blasphemy. His Final Four, which is parenthetical comments left in:

  • Midwest: #1 North Carolina (YUCK!)
  • South: #3 Baylor
  • East: #2 Ohio State
  • West: #1 Michigan State

And he chooses North Carolina (Bigger Yuck) to win it all.

His sleeper pick, like mine, is Xavier.

Jim’s Final Four Picks and Sleeper Teams

Jim also likes the Tar Heels, even predicting that the 2011-2012 season will end just as it began: with North Carolina taking on Michigan State.

Final Four:

  • Midwest: #1 North Carolina
  • South: #1 Kentucky
  • East: #2 Ohio State
  • West: #1 Michigan State

Jim thinks the result of that UNC-Michigan State rematch will be different however, as he has the Spartans cutting down the nets.

For sleepers, Jim chooses the 6th-seeded Murray State Racers to go all the way to the Elite 8 and #5 seed Wichita State to reach the Sweet 16 (though Brian has officially raised a complaint about a #5 seed being listed as a sleeper in the Sweet 16…).

Drew’s Final Four Picks and Sleeper Teams

Here is who Drew likes to reach New Orleans:

  • Midwest: #2 Kansas
  • South: #1 Kentucky
  • East: #4 Wisconsin
  • West: #2 Missouri

As for a sleeper, he has Colorado – which qualified only because it won the Pac-12 Tournament – in his Elite 8. Now that’s a ballsy sleeper pick folks!

Keith’s Final Four Picks and Sleeper Teams

Next up is Michigan Man Keith Mullett, who has decided that his Wolverines don’t quite have what it takes to reach the Final Four.

  • Midwest: #1 North Carolina
  • South: #1 Kentucky
  • East: #2 Ohio St
  • West: #3 Marquette

Keith has the Tar Heels prevailing over Kentucky in the title game, the exact same choice that President Obama made.

Keith’s sleeper team is Virginia.

Derek’s Final Four Picks and Sleeper Teams

Derek, like Jon, is predicting some first round craziness. Not only does he claim to “agree” with Jon’s choice of UNC-Asheville over Syracuse in Round 1, he is picking 15th-seeded Lehigh to upend #2 seed Duke.

But his Final Four choices are far from crazy. Here are his picks:

  • Midwest: #1 North Carolina
  • South: #1 Kentucky
  • East: #2 Ohio State
  • West: #1 Michigan State

Derek takes Kentucky over UNC in the final.

**********

I’m sure more of our great writers will submit their picks as the day goes on, and I’ll update this post when they do. In the meantime, we’d love to get your picks. Comment below with your Final Four predictions and sleeper teams for the 2012 Tournament.

And make sure you join the MSF Bracket Challenge!

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