Madness: a state of frenzied or chaotic activity. That’s exactly what every March is like in the college basketball world, absolute chaos, and madness across America.
Schools with 50,000 students lose to schools with just 5,000.
Schools from the Big Ten lose to schools in the Big Sky.
This year there are some underdog teams in the tournament that are capable of recreating that Cinderella magic, who has the ability to bust your bracket this time around?
University of Buffalo (6)
The city that is home to the hot wing, is home to the hottest team in college basketball as well. The Buffalo Bulls are coming off an amazing season, finishing with a record of 31-3, and winning their fourth MAC Championship in five seasons.
They’ve won twelve straight games at the best time of the year, and have been blowing their opponents out of the water all season. Buffalo has nineteen double digit victories in their thirty-one wins.
They don’t have many impressive wins, with a 71-59 victory over Syracuse as their most noteworthy, but the Bulls shear domination is impressive enough.
A six seed is not usually seen as a cinderella, but Buffalo comes from a smaller conference, making them applicable in my book.
Buffalo should be a three or four seed based off of their record and ability to put the ball in the hoop- at 84.9 points per game. The committee overlooked them due to the lack of schedule difficulty, but don’t be surprised to see Buffalo still alive come the Elite Eight round.
Murray State (12)
The Racers have one of, if not the best player in all of college basketball, Ja Morant.
Morant has led the Racers to a 27-4 record, and an Ohio Valley Conference title this year. He’s averaging a jaw dropping numbers of 24.6 points, 10 assists, 5.5 rebounds, and 1.8 steals a game.
Murray State goes as Ja does, and boy does he go.
The Racers are eighth in the country with an offensive rating of 116.1, and 23rd in the nation with a very low defensive rating of 94.5. Murray State is extremely strong on both ends of the court, and with a leader very capable of scoring 40 points every night, they’re dangerous.
They were dealt a tough opening game versus a strong Marquette team, but Murray State should win that one, and possibly another after that against Florida State.
If the Racers were given an easier bracket, I might have them in the Elite Eight. Based off what they have to deal with, the Sweet Sixteen would be a great accomplishment.
Utah State (8)
Utah State has been a sleeper team all season in the Mountain West Conference. Nevada held most of the headlines early in the season, but as the season progressed the Aggies stock rose.
Saturday Utah State knocked off San Diego State for the MWC Championship, 64-57.
They’ve quietly been a top team on offense and defense throughout the 2018-19 campaign.
The Aggies boast an offensive rating of 112.4 (28th in the country), and defensive rating of 94.8 (27th in the country). Impressive numbers from such an unheralded squad that has won their games by an average margin of 12.4 points a contest.
As an eight seed they will be up against it, but they’re such a well rounded squad I wouldn’t be surprised to see them make the Sweet Sixteen.
They will have to get through a decent Washington squad to face of with one seed North Carolina, who always pose a sizable threat.
If (BIG IF) they can get by UNC, watch out they could end up in Minneapolis for the Final Four.
University of Oregon (12)
After winning the PAC-12 championship, Oregon has been insulted by the committee with a twelve seed.
Obviously they're a school known more for their football jerseys than their basketball team, but they deserve more respect for how well they finished the regular season.
They’re coming into the tournament with a record of 23-12, and sit on a nine game winning streak.
They’ll be matched up with a weaker than usual Wisconsin Badgers squad who come in at 23-10, and somehow found themselves with a five seed.
The Ducks play some of the best defense in the nation, allowing 62.9 points a game (17th best).
Oregon’s offense leaves much to be desired with only 70.2 points a game, but when they hold teams under 60 points as often as they do it doesn’t seem to matter.
This is an intriguing team that can certainly make a run to the Sweet Sixteen.
Belmont University (11)
The Belmont Bruins snuck into March Madness with an at large bid, being placed into a First Four game against Temple University.
As an 11 seed they will have to win even before they get to face a tough sixth seeded Maryland team. It’s difficult to make a deep run when you play in that extra game, but every year one team makes the Sweet Sixteen out of the First Four.
Belmont will be that team this year.
The Bruins score 87.4 points a game which is the second best in the nation. They can fill it up, and they may not be the best defensively, but in the blink of an eye, Belmont can go on a scoring run, and leave you in their wake.
Belmont is 26-5 this season, and in the thirty-one games they’ve played they’ve scored 90+ points in fifteen of them.
Don’t think Belmont will be a walk in the park for any team, because they will immediately walk you right out of the tournament.
Wofford University (7)
This seems to be the obvious pick this year for a possible cinderella, as the Wofford Terriers are the 20th ranked team in the country, and winners of twenty straight games.
They have dominated their competition as Southern Conference Champions, winning their games by an average of 17.4 points.
Their only loses come to some of the best team in country: North Carolina, Mississippi State, Kansas, and Oklahoma being the lone four. Besides that they’ve mowed down everyone that has stepped onto the same court as them.
Being a seven seed they might feel disrespected, but if any “Cinderella” story was going to happen this tournament, put your money on Wofford.
Seton Hall is a brutal matchup for Wofford, but they’re too good this season to lose to average teams. The Round of 32 is the worst case scenario for Wofford, but they realistically have their sights set on a run to the Final Four.
Kentucky will be waiting for them, that’s for sure.
Final Four Prediction
These teams are all dangerous, and primed to become the upset Kings of March Madness. At least one or two of these mid-major schools will make a good run at it, although it’s hard to think any of them are Final Four bound this year.
Buffalo, Utah State, and Wofford have the best chance to be those Cinderella teams.
I see the Final Four unfolding with Tennessee (2), Houston (3),Virginia Tech (4), and Gonzaga (1).
Surely, that will be accurate.
In a year of many good, but few great teams, Gonzaga will finally be able to hoist that championship trophy after many close runs in the past decade.
The Zags might’ve lost the WCC championship to Saint Mary’s, but they’re prepared to win the whole thing better than any other team in the nation.
In a year that is ripe for upsets in every region, a number one seed will finish on the top.
Experience, talent, and coaching will lead Gonzaga to their programs first ever National Championship victory come April 8th.
Don’t let the aforementioned teams bust your bracket this season, because if they do I’ll be there to say, “I told ya so.”
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