NCAA Tournament – The Cinderellas
This was supposed to be posted before the tournament started but somehow it got lost in translation, so I’m cheating a little bit because some of the Cinderellas (Old Dominion, Yale) have already been eliminated from the NCAA Tournament.
Regardless, the beauty of March Madness is the chance of having a team come out of nowhere and make a splash. It was Loyola-Chicago and Sister Jean last season, and the list goes on and on. We even had a 16 seed beat a 1 seed when UMBC took down Virginia by 20 points. We are guaranteed at least one Cinderella in the Sweet Sixteen, but let’s aim to get all three right.
I will be the first one to admit (and I have proof) for some reason I have Oregon in my Final Four. I have no idea why they’re in my Final Four, but they are. Oregon was absolutely brutal to start the season after being a preseason Top 25 team.
They lost a couple of very bad games in a weak Pac 12, but somehow came together and won the Pac 12 Tournament to steal a bid in the tourney. Now they find themselves facing another potential Cinderella, UC Irvine, and if they win will most likely face a Virginia team that nearly lost to another 16 seed in Gardner-Webb.
The Liberty Flames took down Mississippi State in the classic 12-5 upset by the score of 80-76. If anything, Liberty was the last team anyone thought would pull an upset, as the SEC was hot up to that point and Mississippi State is a solid team.
However, Scottie James and Caleb Holmesley had a different thing in mind. The two juniors shot the lights out and the Liberty team as a whole played excellent defense against Mississippi State. If Liberty can clamp down again against a good defensive Virginia Tech team, they’ll find themselves in the Sweet 16.
This isn’t necessarily a “Cinderella” considering Murray State has a top three prospect in Ja Morant and they were favored in many circles against a flailing Marquette team, but nonetheless the Racers are a 12 seed and therefore constitute as a Cinderella.
Morant had just the 17th triple double in NCAA Tournament history in Murray State’s “upset” over Marquette, and it’s no surprise considering the star player averages 24.4 PPG, 5.7 RPG, and 10.2 APG. It won’t be an easy task as Florida State is a dark horse to win the NCAA Tournament, but they also almost lost to Vermont and could have trouble with Morant. One of the keys of March is having a stud player you can ride to the Final Four. Murray State has that and could position themselves in the Final Four if Morant continues to play lights out.