Can Notre Dame reach the College Cup as the top seed? (Photo via Notre Dame athletics)

The 2012 NCAA College Cup bracket is out. Yesterday the selection committee released the 48 teams that made it to the post season dance with 16 of those teams placed in the top seeds. There were some surprises and some teams that you’d might expect getting in to a seed.

I’m going to break up the bracket a big and cover half today and half tomorrow for you all. And by Thursday I hope to do a full on bracket prediction post as well!

Bracket 1

Top seeds- (1) Notre Dame, (8) Saint Louis, (9) North Carolina, (16) Indiana

Favorites - Notre Dame is the clear favorite by getting the top seed but their path isn’t as easy as it seams with a good UNC team looming.

Sleeper team - Old Dominion. Holy cow this school can score some goals. I don’t see them going super deep in this tournament but they do present some challenges with the way they are able to put up goals.

Player to watch for - Yannick Smith (ODU) – This kid is a handful and one that has lead the Old Dominion this season. Should he get his team past UNC, his SuperDraft stock will be sky high.

Best first round match –  Xavier vs Kentucky – I love this game to be honest. Both teams are slightly underrated in my mind and after seeing each play a couple times this season I think each could spring an upset in the following round against an Indiana team that has struggled down the stretch.

Best potential match - Notre Dame vs UNC – Boy I hope this is the regional final or quarterfinal match. Both teams present so many good options on the field with future MLS players like Dillion Powers and Ryan Finley of Notre Dame going against the experience and talent of Mikey Lopez and Danny Garcia of UNC.

Path to Hoover –  This one will go through Notre Dame but my gut tells me the experience with North Carolina will be a big factor.

Bracket 2

Top Seeds: UConn (4), Akron (5), Creighton (12), New Mexico (13)

Favorites: Probably the toughest section of the bracket to pick. My gut still sticks with Akron, a team that I felt got the shaft a bit on their seeding. The selection committee really didn’t favor the MAC, which was pretty weak with WVU struggling down the stretch. UConn is also a good pick here as well.

Sleeper team - Washington – The Huskies won the Pac-12 and could be a team that will give Creighton problems in the second round.

Player to watch for - Mamadou Diouf – Here is a guy that will be in a MLS uniform real soon. He scored 13 goals for UConn this season and will be a guy that has to impact the game to get the Huskies over their early round problem that they’ve had in recent College Cups.

Best first round match –  Michigan vs. Niagara – Michigan won the Big10 tournament and snuck into the College Cup despite losing nine games this season. Many thought they didn’t deserve a bid into the tournament. Niagara is a team that has only lost a single game this season.

Best potential match - Akron vs. UConn – Many want to see this game, including me. The top two seeds of this bracket in the quarterfinals is all you can hope for. The thing is, can UConn get over the hump and get this deep into the tournament. It has been a few years since they’ve gone far into the tournament. That will be the biggest challenge to get this matchup.

Path to Hoover –  Akron looks so strong this season and the more I see them the more I believe they have what it takes to win it all in Caleb Porter’s final season as head coach.