basketball

March Madness 2018: The Cinderella teams you need to follow

As the NCAA tournament nears, we take a look three teams who could prove major threats as super-sleeper in a tournament with no dominant teams or overwhelming favorites.


Kahron Spearman


With each year, the likelihood of a Cinderella team winning the NCAA tournament increased. Expanded national parity, all things considered, has created a field of beatable teams, especially in a one-and-done scenario. Even the number one seeds (Virginia, Villanova, Xavier, Kansas) have exploitable warts.

But what unlikely teams have the remote opportunity to exploit those weaknesses and catch fire?

#13 Marshall

vs. #4 Wichita State, 3/16

Finished at 24-10, the Thundering Herd are the solitary representative from Conference USA, as Middle Tennessee State (27-4) was upset in the conference tournament. One of the top scoring teams in the country, they are a team that lets the three-ball go with no hesitation.

They're also the lone squad in the tournament (and the nation) with two players scoring 20-plus a game in all-around talent Jon Elmore (22.6 PPG, 7.0 APG, 6.1 RPG) and C.J. Burks (21.0 PPG, 4.2 RPG.) Contending with this two-headed monster suggests means clubs won't have time to concentrate their efforts on two players simultaneously.

If they can shoot 42-44 percent from three and make free throws, they are going to be difficult out, even for teams residing in top seed lines.

There are seven seed lines between them, but oddsmakers have the Tigers favored by only 5 points. They have fought hard to remain among the elite since 6-8 senior Donte Grantham was injured in late January.

#12 Davidson

vs. #5 Kentucky, 3/15

Davidson (21-11) managed to beat an excellent Rhode Island (25-7) team in the Atlantic 10 conference tournament final - for the second time in 10 days. Longtime coach Bob McKillop's motion offense will provide the surging Wildcats a unique feel, something different from the pick and roll offenses of the SEC. Forward Peyton Aldridge (21.8 PPG and 7.8 RPG) will need to hit his numbers for Davidson to have a chance. 

#12 New Mexico State

vs. #5 Clemson, 3/16

First, the Aggies (28-5) play something of a home game in San Diego, compared to the Tigers. Clemson hasn't played well since Donte Grantham went down in January, and are only 2-6 versus tournament teams since the injury, per Sporting News. Surprise, surprise - New Mexico State has already beaten the likes of Davidson (above) and Miami. Top that with the fact that Clemson lacks a particularly strong history in the Big Dance, and I think we might have an upset special.

Moreover, should the Aggies advance, they are the one team who could reasonably advance into the second round, though #4 Auburn (should they beat Charleston as predicted) would be a tough mountain to climb.

SOU  RCES