With the regular season coming to a close and conference tournaments in full swing, the insanity and awesomeness that is March Madness is just around the corner. Every year when filling out my bracket, I always try to be “that guy” that pencils in the infinitely improbable upset that shocks the nation. Sometimes I’m right and I look like a sports genius, and other times…not so much.
We all remember the runs that Butler (twice), VCU, and George Mason made. When an unlikely mid-major makes a run, or even just pulls off a first round upset, it’s a load of fun to watch, and it feels even better to be the one that saw it all coming.
So without further delay, here is my list of three potential Cinderella teams for the 2013 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament…
Saint Mary’s: The Gaels have one of the most underrated point guards in the country in Matthew Dellavedova. He averaged 16.2 points/game and 6.4 assists/game in the regular season and he has a plethora of tournament experience. If a couple of Dellavedova’s teammates can step up, then this is a team that is certainly capable of making a run in the tourney. Regardless, with a player like Dellavedova, Saint Mary’s is going to be a tough out.
Belmont: Rick Byrd has quietly built one of the most dominant mid-major programs in the country over the past decade. This year will be the third consecutive year that Belmont will appear in the NCAA Tournament, and this year more than ever, they are poised to win a couple of games and turn some heads. The Bruins boast what is likely the best backcourt that you’ve never heard of. Ian Clark (18.1 ppg) and Kerron Johnson (13.7 ppg – 4.8 apg) have led Belmont to a solid 26-6 record this season that includes blowout wins over Middle Tennessee, South Dakota State, and Ohio. Rick Byrd’s boys are lethal from beyond the arch, and if their shots are falling…look out.
Davidson: Bob McKillop puts a dangerous team on the court year after year and this year is no exception. Led by forwards Jake Cohen (14.9 ppg – 5.5 rpg) and De’Mon Brooks (13.5 ppg – 6.1 rpg), the Wildcats dominated the Southern Conference this year, losing only once. The Cohen-Brooks duo is the engine that makes this team go, and their great play along with the discipline and poise that comes with any Bob McKillop team are going to make their first round opponent very nervous.
So there you have it – three mid-majors that are poised for a tournament run. It should be noted that only Belmont has actually secured an automatic bid at the time of this writing. While it is improbable, it is possible that Saint Mary’s and/or Davidson could miss out on the tournament.
When the bracket is released on Selection Sunday, don’t be afraid to pick these teams to pull off a couple of upsets. And when Saint Mary’s, Belmont, and Davidson are all in the Sweet 16…go ahead, rub it in your friends’ faces.