By Ruslan Crosby
It’s everyone’s favorite time of year, March Madness. Each year we take time out of our otherwise boring days to watch the tournament and see how long our brackets can stay un-busted. But why do we? We watch because of the Cinderella stories that we are wanting to see every year.
So who will be this year’s Cinderella? Who will captivate a nation, beat the odds, and what teams should be on high alert? Here is who I think you should look out for.
Despite being awarded a disappointing ten seed with a record of 30-4, Wichita State will most definitely be coming out hot and ready to take on Archie Miller’s Dayton Flyers. Now, I don’t think that the Shockers will be able to have another final four run like they did in 2013, but I do believe that they will show all the doubters that giving them a 10 seed was a terrible decision. My prediction is that they will win their opener against Dayton, but will lose to Kentucky. Although, you never know Kentucky is one of the most inconsistent teams so the Shockers may shock them.
Many people forget that prior to Wichita State’s magical 2013 run to the final four, the team was an AP ranked team, that fell back in the middle of the season only to become one of the hottest teams right before the tournament. Rhode Island sounds like the exact same team. They were ranked for the first 3 weeks of the season and nearly beat Duke in a neutral site game. Then forward Hassan Martin, the team’s leading scorer, and rebounder was out for multiple weeks with a quad injury. With him back, the Rams have been red hot and won the A-10 conference. They face a weak Creighton team in the first round, who has gone 6-7 since Maurice Watson suffered a knee injury, may not have enough to stop them. After that, they’ll probably play Oregon, who just lost Chris Boucher to and ACL injury. URI has a legitimate chance to win and advance to the Sweet Sixteen.
Florida Gulf Coast
This is more about how Florida State (FGCU’s first round opponent) is way too inconsistent to trust. In the tournament, a team just has to win one game, and then who knows what will happen after that. Florida State is one of the most talented, and athletic teams in the country, but they just came off of a mediocre ACC tournament, and I just can not trust them to advance. Now, Florida State does have amazing depth and can throw in fresh defenders whenever Leonard Hamilton, the head coach, wants to. If FGCU can get the Seminoles into early foul trouble, they have a great chance to bring dunk city out into full force and cause a huge upset. After that, they would play Maryland, who has way too high of a seeding, or Xavier, who other than their one Big East tournament win against Butler, has only beaten Depaul in the past month. Watch out for FGCU to make another big run like they did in 2013.
After being selected to their first tournament, Northwestern will be trying to advance, and history gives them a good shot. Since 1985, first timers with a 10 seed or better are 4-3 in their opening round game. Vanderbilt, their opponent lost 14 games this year. In the past 60 years teams with 14 losses are 6-11, with most of those wins coming from LSU in 1987 when they went to the elite eight. The wildcats have a solid chance to create more history this year by advancing and getting their first tournament win in program history.
All in all, there are only about 7-10 teams that have a legitimate chance to win it all, But you never know, last year Kansas was supposed to win it all, and then Villanova did what they never could do, and that is advance deep into the tournament. Will this be the year that a 16 seed upsets a 1? Closest time was when Princeton nearly upset Georgetown. Princeton is back in the tournament. Is this a sign? We’ll just have to wait and see.