March Madness has officially arrived and the Cinderella teams are getting ready to bust your bracket. This year, don’t get caught by surprise. We have identified the underdogs that you should keep an eye on as you fill out your NCAA tournament bracket.
Stephen F. Austin
Even though Stephen F. Austin has won 28 straight games, this Texas school didn’t get much respect in the NCAA tournament, as they were given a 12th seed. However, look for the Lumberjacks to make noise as a Cinderella team.
In the first round, Stephen F. Austin takes on an overrated VCU squad that has lost four of their previous 11 games. Not only do I expect the Lumberjacks to win this game, don’t count out a run to the Sweet 16.
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Don’t overlook Memphis. Sure, they lost four of their final eight games. But if you look closer, all four of those defeats were at the hands of ranked teams. During the same time frame, Memphis won two games against ranked opponents — so they are definitely battle-tested heading into March Madness.
The Tigers have talent, they’re well coached and they have already adjusted to the big stage. Winning two or three games in the tournament is quite possible.
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Entering March Madness as a 6th seed, this team is extremely dangerous. Baylor has won 10 of their previous 12 games and there’s no doubt this squad is peaking at the right time.
The key to their postseason success will be the play of Isaiah Austin. This 7-foot-1 sophomore was having a very disappointing season but he has played well in the last six weeks. If he can keep it up on both ends of the court, Baylor could conceivably sneak into the Final Four.
North Dakota State
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Some casual observers were surprised that tiny North Dakota State got a 12th seed. But, if you’ve watched them play, they definitely deserved it. Not only did they dominate the Summit League, they had notable wins over quality programs such as Notre Dame, Delaware and Western Michigan.
In they first round, North Dakota State takes on a very beatable Oklahoma team that sputtered to the finish line. Don’t be surprised in the least if the Bison advance.
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As Rudy T once said, don’t EVER underestimate the heart of a champion. Louisville won it all last season but they enter this tournament as an underdog. While they are a 4th seed, few experts believe they will have much success in this year’s March Madness tournament.
I believe the experts are wrong. I think Louisville will lean on their experience and will begin playing their best ball of the season. When the dust settles, I expect this team to still be standing at the Final Four.