Teams Destined To Bust Your Bracket This March
College basketball is still in the early phases of its season, but it’s never too early to look at some teams that could claim the Cinderella title this year in the tournament.
- Monmouth– After winning the MAAC regular season conference last year by a comfortable margin, the Hawks were stunned in the conference tournament by Siena who scored 64 second-half points, en route to an 89-85 upset win. Monmouth has won at least 27 games the past two seasons and are destined to make the tournament for the first time since 2006 sooner rather than later.
- . Yale– The Ivy League conference has always been underrated in my opinion when it comes to basketball. Harvard made it to the Round of 32 in both 2013 and 2014 and almost upset North Carolina in the 2015 tournament, before losing 67-65. Princeton took Notre Dame down to the wire last year in the Round of 64 before losing 60-58. These small teams have fight in them and Yale was one win away last year from making the tournament for the second time in three years. In 2016, they upset Baylor in the first round and nearly took down Duke. If they can make it to the Big Dance this year, look for them to give teams all they can handle.
- Iona– While Iona has made the tournament 4 times since 2012, they haven’t been able to generate much success, making it out of the first round just once, in 2013. The Gaels this year have a lot of veteran talent led by junior guard Rickey McGill and senior Sam Cassell Jr., who just may have the skills to bring Iona back to tournament play once again.
- Florida Gulf Coast– In 2013, most people hadn’t even heard of this school. Florida Gulf Coast earned their nickname, “Dunk City”, by stealing the show and going on a magical run to the Sweet 16 as a No. 15 seed. The Eagles entered this season as favorites to win the Atlantic Sun Conference, and added Ricky Doyle, a transfer from Michigan who could make significant contributions as well. With three of their top scorers from last year returning, this could be a double-digit seed you don’t want to see your team to face come March.
- Montana State– Similar to Florida Gulf Coast, Montana State has many players returning from last year. Seven of their top eight scorers from last year are back, including junior Tyler Hall, who averaged 23.1 points per game last season. The Big Sky Conference hasn’t been dominated by one school the past few years, with a different team winning the conference each of the past three seasons. With the weapons they have returning, Montana State could very well find themselves dancing in March.
- St. Bonaventure– Playing in the A-10 may be more challenging than some people realize. VCU and Rhode Island are two programs that have seen time ranked in the AP Top 25 the past few years. The Bonnies have one of the most talented point guards in the country in Jaylen Adams and are bringing back most of their team from last year who won 20 games. If this team can outlast VCU and URI, there’s no reason to think they can’t knock off a powerhouse school in March.
- Middle Tennessee State– This team has become no stranger to playing in March, qualifying for the tournament three times since 2013. In 2016, they pulled off one of the greatest upsets in tournament history, beating No. 2 seed Michigan State and busting just about every single bracket that year. Last season, Middle Tennessee State was at it again by knocking off Minnesota in the first round as well. With little reason to think the Blue Raiders won’t once again win the C-USA, keep an eye on this team when it comes time to pick a double-digit seed in your bracket pool.
- Providence– The Friars have regained relevance after a 10-year drought of not making the tournament was snapped in 2014. Since then, Providence has made the tournament every year and has been competitive despite not securing a win yet. With a strong young core of players and head coach Ed Cooley leading the way, the Friars could finally get a tournament win they’ve long been searching for.
- SMU– The Mustangs have been a sneaky good team ever since head coach Tim Jankovich took over at the start of last year. Leading them to just their second tournament appearance in 24 years by winning 30 games, SMU was bounced in the first round. A hot start this season has them on track for another March run.
- Boston College– This is the boldest pick on the list. Just two seasons ago, BC became the first team in ACC history to lose all of its conference games in a season. Last year, the Eagles didn’t fare much better, going just 2-16 in conference play. They’re off to a hot start this year, winning seven of their first ten games and knocked off the No. 1 ranked team in the country, Duke. The real test for Boston College has started, which is their conference schedule. It’s not easy, but starting off conference play by beating the top ranked team in the country is a good start and could show what this team may be capable of this year.