Does Any Cinderella Have A Legitimate Shot At The Sweet 16?

3/17/10 in NCAABB   |   redsox1002003   |   881 respect

 Every year there is talk about a cinderella mid-major team slaying a few dragons to reach the Sweet 16 or even further. This year i see 12 possible "Cinderella Teams" (Mid Major Team seeded 9 or lower) that could make a run. Here's a breakdown:

9. Northern Iowa

The MVC Champion Panthers open up vs UNLV, in a game where one late run could clinch a win for either team, as they are evenly matched. UNLV is favored by one in Vegas, due to the seeding, so this game could go either way, and i see UNI winning due to them being a top team all year. If they win they will most likely face Kansas, where the jayhawks clearly is the better team, which would be the end of the road for UNI. However, if they pulled the upset, they would face an experienced Maryland or Michigan State team, but they arent beating Kansas.
Prediction: 2nd Round
11. San Diego State 
The Aztecs, who finished 3rd in a loaded MWC, but won the conference tournament, lead off with a suprising Tennessee team. The Vols played many of their games with a shortened roster, but found ways to beat Kansas, and finish #15 before conference tourneys began. The Vols have a great defense, but SD St. has great shooting accuracy. I see them beating a 3-point favored Volunteer team, who historically falters in March Madness, and face Gerogetown in round 2, where the Hoyas stuggle with turnovers, but San Diego St. stuggles at the charity stripe, and that is what will kill them whenever they lose.
Prediction: 2nd Round

12. Cornell
Yes, it's the team Jay Bilas thinks will nearly run the table, Cornell steamrolled through the Ivy League, and was nationally ranked at one point in the season. They draw a tough Temple team, who ran through the A-10 themselves, and finished #12 in the rankings. Temple's tough D will force Cornell to rely on the 3-ball, except Cornell can shoot the 3-ball. However, a team can make only so many 3's, and i see Temple winning. However, if they beat Temple (President Obama thinks so), they will face Wisconsin, who's strength is at defensive rebounding, and could minimize Cornell's possessions. I don't see them getting into the Sweet 16
Prediction: 1st round

12. UTEP
The #25 Miners finally won the regular season CUSA title, ending Memphis's stranglehold on it, but lost to Houston in the tourney final, and barely made it into March Madness, however many folks think they can beat Butler, their first draw. Many people sneeze at Butler due to them being a mid major themselves, but they were ranked for most of the year, and finished at #11. UTEP's 8th ranked defense could cause some issues for Butler, but I see Butler winning. However if they won, they would face either Vanderbilt (a poser of a team in my eyes) or Murray St. (guaranteeing a Cinderella in the sweet 16).
Prediction: 1st Round
13. Murray State
The Racers destroyed the OVC and was the first team in the nation to reach 30 wins. They drew #21 Vandy in the first round, a team i see as a somewhat overrated team, and not a very good road team. The Racers can cause turnovers, but create turnovers too, but a team that won 30 games in not a fluke in my eyes, no matter what conference they came from, and i see them beating Vandy. The next round would have them facing Butler or UTEP, (my opinion, Butler). Murray St. has a very good shot at beating a Butler team who historically falls apart in the postseason. Next matchup would be Sryacuse, a team that would just out muscle murray state, and end the road for them.
Prediction: Sweet 16
11. Minnesota
The Gophers started strong, sizzled mid-season, and ended strong enough to reach the tournament. They draw Xavier, which is a favorable matchup, odds wise, and prediction wise for Minnesota. The Gophers have a very strong offensive attack, and i think will outscore Xavier. Next they would face Pittsburgh, who, prediction wise has Minnesota favored, but I think Pitt's defense, and Minnesota's lack of free throw accuracy will kill the Gophers in the end in round 2.
Prediction: 2nd Round

12. Utah State
The Aggies won the regular season WAC title, but lost in the conference tourney, and barely made it into the tournament, but drew a favorable matchup in #23 Texas A&M., in the battle of the Aggies. Utah State is first in the nation in points per possession, and will continue to rack up the points against a middle of the road A&M defense, and will outscore them. The next round has them against either a down Purdue team, or Siena.
13. Siena
The Saints blew through the MAAC, and was rewarded with a game vs a depleted Purdue team. Both teams excel at defense, but the lack of a floor leader in Hummel has hurt and will hurt the Boilermakers. Siena will go on to face Utah State. This matchup sees a top offense vs an above average defense. Anyone could win this matchup, Siena wins if Utah St. can't find a rhythm, but Utah St. will win if they can open up in the first half. I see this matchup going to Utah State, as they will be too much for Siena. Utah St. will be slowed down by Duke's defense.
Utah St. Prediction: Sweet 16
Siena Prediction: 2nd Round
11. Old Dominion
The Monarchs won the CAA and will face an overseeded Notre Dame team in Round 1. Notre Dame was a terrific offense, ranking second in points per possession, while Old Dominion is tops in the nation in offensive rebounding. Luke Harangody will be hungry to win a NCAA Tournament game, as he has been stuck in the NIT the past couple seasons, and the Irish will beat Old Dominion. If Old Dominion were to win, they would face, and lose to Baylor.
Prediction: 1st Round 
10. St. Mary's
The Gaels shocked Gonzaga and won the WCC tournament to get into the field of 65. They will be involved in a matchup of the unstoppable force meats the immovable object as Richmond's top 40 defense face St. Mary's top 20 offense. This game could go either way as either Richmond's defense or SMC's offense could turn it on, but i see Richmond making key stops and winning here.
Prediction: 1st Round

So there you have it, i see two possible Cinderella's reaching the Sweet 16 in the tournament this year, 13. Murray State and 12. Utah State. This is just my views on this, so who are your Cinderellas for the tournament this year?

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