2018 NCAA Tournament Preview: 4 Cinderella Teams

Everybody loves a good upset. We all know in March anything is possible and we’ve seen countless times before a team who makes a deep run despite all the odds against them.

VCU, Butler, Florida Gulf Coast, George Mason, and Davidson are clubs who have captured our hearts in recent NCAA Tournaments and here are some who have potential to do the same this year.

Davidson 

No, Stephen Curry is not making his return to college for the NCAA Tournament. But, the Wildcats have a duo in Kellan Grady and Peyton Aldridge that are about as efficient on the offensive end as any in the country. Aldridge and Grady combine for 39.5 points per game including multiple 30-point outings in the last few weeks.

A team who wasn’t expected to make the NCAA Tournament, Davidson is winners of four straight – including two wins over Rhode Island – and possess one of the most experienced coaches in college hoops in Bob McKillop. The Wildcats do all the things that would frustrate a young team like Kentucky. Davidson’s strength is on the offensive end as it is ranked 18th in offensive adjusted efficiency, 11th in effective field goal percentage, and 7th in turnover percentage. A smart, experienced team has a shot at anyone when it’s hitting on all cylinders.

The Wildcats played a relatively difficult non-conference schedule (Nevada, North Carolina, Virginia, New Mexico State) so they know what to expect when going up against a talented squad like Kentucky.

Nevada

If you haven’t seen the Wolf Pack play this year, I’d highly advise you check them out before it’s too late. Nevada’s trio of Caleb and Cody Martin and Jordan Caroline is one of the best in the country and average 50.6 out of their team’s 83 points per game.

Add in Kendall Stephens – who is averaging 13.2 points per game and converting on 44 percent of his attempts from 3, and you have four guys who can take over a game at any moment.

The Wolf Pack go head to head with No. 10 Texas in the first round which has one of the best defenses in the country but has a tough time scoring the ball. With a win, Nevada would meet Cincinnati in the Round of 32 another defensive-minded team. While defense does win championships, the Wolf Pack can outscore just about anybody which could get them past the Sweet 16 or beyond.

Missouri 

The return of Michael Porter Jr. has the college basketball world buzzing and rightfully so. Although the freshman phenom struggled in his return, a few more practices under his belt will do him good and make him a factor in the Tigers’ possible tournament run.

Missouri was a one and done in the SEC Tournament but has the pieces with the addition of Porter Jr. to make something happen. The Tigers’ second-leading scorer, Jordan Barnett, has to sit out the first round game against Florida State but that shouldn’t be a pressing concern.

Jontay Porter and Kassius Robertson have been terrific this year for Missouri. Add in Porter Jr., and that is a balanced team who can hurt you in a variety of ways on the offensive end.

Lastly, a potential matchup with No. 1 Xavier in the Round of 32 is a plus for the Tigers. The Musketeers are arguably the worst No. 1 seed in NCAA Tournament history and contest with Missouri has upset written all over it.

New Mexico State

The Aggies are one of the best defensive groups in the country and have one of the most favorable draws for a double-digit seed this year. Clemson, a team who has lost five of its last eight, is New Mexico’s State first-round matchup and is known for scoring 36 points this year against Virginia, the top defense in the nation. The Tigers are also without one of their best players, Donte Grantham, and they haven’t been the same since his injury.

New Mexico State’s possible Round of 32 opponent, Auburn, is also missing one its best players in Anfernee McLemore. Bruce Pearl’s team has lost three of its last five since McLemore and are having a hard time adjusting without him.

That said, the Aggies are a reasonable but still risky pick to put in the Sweet 16. The Cinderella Run will most likely die against No. 1 Kansas, but, hey, anything can happen.

 

Photo: USA Today Sports

 

 

Sean Bock
Freshman at the University of Iowa studying Journalism. I'm known for playing little defense and looking to shoot the three ball every time down the floor. Follow me on Twitter @Sean_Bock_4