5 Potential Cinderellas You Should Know About Before March
Football has season has just ended and the NBA and NHL seasons are in full swing. You could almost be forgiven for missing out on college basketball season.
Well, I said almost forgiven....your bracket most certainly won't forgive you.
We have just under a month until the NCAA Tournament officially commences, but if you're not entirely certain who the Cinderellas are, the ones only you'll have going far in your bracket when no one else will, we're here to help. Below, present five potential Cinderellas for you to bring up, so you'll sound smart at your bracket parties...
How can the Wildcats be a "Cinderella" team, considering they're in the Big Ten and all? Simple...the Cats, despite their big conference connections, have never made the NCAA Tournament, and didn't even have a 20-win season until last year. But this year, they're already on the cusp of that plateau, and even found themselves ranked in the AP Top 25 poll, which was such a surprise the AP site wasn't even prepared. The Wildcats are currently trapped in a bit of a drought, having lost three of their past four, but that one win was a victory over #7 Wisconsin. Leading the charge is junior G Bryant McIntosh, who has scored at least 20 points on four of his past five games.
At #34, the Redbirds, who have been NCAA Tournament-free since 1998, have the highest RPI amongst mid-major teams. The Missouri Valley Conference has long been dominated by a Wichita State monopoly, but the Redbirds, 15-1 since a 7-4 start, are giving the Shockers a run for their corn. Leading the way is Deontae Hawkins, who leads the team in PPG (14.6) and RPG (6.8), and MiKyle McIntosh, who ranks second in those very same categories, close behind at 13.3 and 6.2 respectively. Having split their season set, the Redbirds and Shockers will compete for the MVC title fairly soon, as the conference tournament is slated to start early on March 2.
Middle Tennessee State
Last year's bracket mass murderers, the Blue Raiders are showing that last season was no fluke, currently leading the Conference USA with a 22-4 overall mark. Returning from the epic 15-over-2 win over Michigan State is the leading scorer from that game, Reggie Upshaw, as is the tremendously named Giddy Potts. They've lost just once in conference play this season, and if things truly pan out, it's possible they could earn an at-large. However, they have their sets sight set up on the easier and bigger goal of winning the conference tourney.
Florida Gulf Coast
These guys know a thing or two about big upsets, and it looks like they could have something special brewing once again. Current leaders of the Atlantic Sun, the Eagles began with year with single digit losses to Michigan State and Baylor, but have since racked up big in-conference wins to make sure they enter the conference tournament on the right note. Entering last year's A-Sun festivities, they were just the 4th seed, and ended up making the big tournament for the first time since that magical run to the Sweet 16 in 2013. Head coach Joe Dooley has filled in current USC coach Andy Enfield's footsteps well, and the Eagles could be more dangerous than there were entering that 2013 trip.
Another school known for Cinderella antics of March Madness past, Vermont is one of three schools, along with top-ranked Gonzaga of the West Coast Conference and Princeton of the Ivy League, still undefeated in conference play. Sure, they play in the relatively weak America East, but it's an impressive feat nonetheless. They're overall boasting a 16-game winning streak, with perhaps the most impressive being the play of Anthony Lamb, a freshman averaging just over 11 points and 5 rebounds per game. The Catamounts' program is perhaps best known for their 2005 tournament upset of Syracuse, and if things keep up, they could have another signature win on their all-time resume soon enough.
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