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2012 NCAA Tournament Bracket Challenge: How Far Will Mountain West Teams Go

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The 2012 NCAA Tournament bracket has been set so it is the annual tradition of filling out a bracket, so go ahead and use Yahoo! Tourney Pick 'Em to submit a bracket in the Yahoo!/SB Nation "Wisdom of the Crowds" bracket challenge and/or set up their own bracket league. The Mountain West Connection will have our own bracket challenge with Yahoo, but there will be more information on that later.

With four Mountain West teams there is a good chance that at least one team could make it to the second weekend. In my opinion the Mountain West teams were under seeded with the exception of Colorado State.

Related: 2012 NCAA Tournament printable bracket

These selections are my quick off the cuff predictions, and before I do some more heavy duty research on these teams.

Here is the first round matchups for the Mountain West teams:

No. 6 UNLV vs. No. 11 Colorado

No. 11 Colorado State vs. No. 6 Murray State

No. 6 San Diego State vs. No. 11 N.C. State

No. 5 New Mexico vs. No. 12 Long Beach State

Going strictly off the seeds, all teams should win except for Colorado State, and while I think that is the results which will happen.

After the jump is a team-by-team very early projections.

UNLV Runnin' Rebels

Starting with UNLV vs. Colorado, the Rebels have the better talent and were in a superior league. The only thing to be worried about in this game is that Colorado is hot as they ran through the Pac-12 tournament by beating the No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4 seed. However, the competition between the two schools favors UNLV, so I'll go with UNLV getitng past round one.

As for round two UNLV is likely going to play Baylor in what should be a great game. Baylor is athletic as is UNLV which should make this game exciting. Baylor is hot as they turned it around by making it to the Big 12 final before falling to Missouri and beat the Kansas Jayhawks in the semifinal round. I think UNLV can get past Baylor, because outside of this past week they have been free falling, so I'll go with UNLV to advance. Another reason I want to see UNLV advance because they would likely be playing Duke which would be very nice. I think their end runs there in the Sweet 16 round.

New Mexico Lobos

Long Beach State is a team that New Mexico should not take lightly, because they have played Pitt, San Diego State, Louisville, Kansas, Xavier and North Carolina. Out of those Long Beach State beat Pitt, however they will not be intimidated against New Mexico. The one big edge is New Mexico's size as they should be able to out rebound Long Beach State who in their own right are 109th in the country. So, New Mexico wins.

Round two is likely Big East conference tournament champion Louisville. Winning the Big East is huge, but New Mexico is peaking as well as they ran through the Mountain West tournament. This features a pair of good coaching matchups with Steve Alford and Rick Pitino, and my gut says that New Mexico will pull off the win against Louisville.

The projected Sweet 16 matchup would likely be against No. 1 seed Michigan State, and that is probably where their season ends.

Colorado St. Rams

This team has been fun this year and looking at just the stats both Murray State and Colorado State are comparable with the exception of Murray State having a much better record. However, Colorado State plays in a much better league so that could be a difference. I think this game is really a toss up, but I have to go with Murray State because there are players on this team who were part of the 2010 squad that was a No. 13 seed and upset Vanderbilt to get to round two, plus they have the confidence to beat anyone. Basically I would not be too surprised if either team wins, but I am leaning to Murray State at this time.

San Diego St. Aztecs

The early trendy upset pick is coming from some experts who are calling for San Diego State to lose to N.C. State. Not really buying that, but the only credence I give to that happening is because San Diego State does sometimes play to the level of their competition. However, San Diego State should easily get past N.C. State.

Round 2 will be extremely difficult as it will be the Georgetown Hoyas who finished the season ranked No. 15 in the nation, however Georgetown has struggled down the stretch, but San Diego State has struggled too with losing three in a row in mid-February. This could just be the name of the school, but I am leaning to Georgetown winning round two.


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