With Selection Sunday now in the rearview mirror, here are five potential cinderella teams in March Madness with the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament set to tip-off Thursday in Indianapolis. Leading the way with nine teams in the field, the Big Ten is well-represented in this year’s bracket, with the Big 12 and the Atlantic Coast conference sending seven different teams to the bubble. Left out of the big dance for the first time in over 30 years, both Duke and Kentucky will miss the annual event for the first time since 1976.
In addition to this, a rare feat will look to become accomplished in this year’s tournament, with Mark Few’s Gonzaga Bulldogs looking to become the first team to finish the season undefeated since Bob Knight’s Indiana Hoosiers. Amidst all the storylines featured in the 2021 field, here are 5 potential cinderella teams in March Madness.
Five Potential Cinderella Teams in March Madness This Year
UNC Greensboro Spartans
Back in the tournament for the first time since 2018, the Spartans held on to capture the Southern Conference championship after they narrowly defeated Mercer 69-61 to earn a spot in the big dance. Averaging more than 73 points per game this season, the team also finished second in their conference in field goal percentage at over 42 percent.
Led by standout guard Isaiah Miller, the current number 13 seed is set to square off against the Florida State Seminoles on Saturday in Indianapolis. Averaging 19.3 points, 6.9 rebounds, four assists, and 2.6 steals this season; Miller captured both Southern Conference player of the year and defensive player of the year for the second straight season. A well-coached program that can pick up steam on the defensive end of the floor, the Spartans are poised to go on a run to the sweet 16.
Abilene Christian Wildcats
Making their second appearance in the tournament, the Wildcats captured the Southland Conference for the first time since 2019 with a record of 23-4. Winners of five of their last six games to close out the regular season, the team boasts one of the best defenses in the nation, forcing turnovers on over a quarter of their opponent’s possessions. Furthermore, Abilene Christian also possesses the ability to score at will, with 66.9 percent of their made field goals coming via an assist.
Led by seven-foot center Kolton Kohl and senior three-point marksman Reggie Miller, the Wildcats are currently set to square off against the Texas Longhorns in the opening round of the tournament. For the winner, a date with the winner of BYU and Michigan State/UCLA awaits.
Red-hot entering the tournament, the orange won three of their final four games to close out the regular season, including wins over North Carolina and Clemson. Led by senior guard Buddy Boeheim, the team ranked 22nd in the nation in offensive efficiency while racking up more than 75 points per game. Averaging 17.1 points per game, 2.4 rebounds per game, and 2.9 assists per game, Boeheim can heat up from behind the mark at any moment, leading him to convert over 46 percent of his three-point attempts during the team’s final seven games.
Apart from this, Syracuse also possesses an added element of preparation for their opponents with their potent zone defense. Able to advance to at least the Sweet 16 during their previous two tournament appearances, the orange come in as the third team on our five potential cinderella teams in March Madness list.
Blazing through the Big South en route to their second consecutive conference championship, the Eagles finished the regular season with a 23-1 record. Winners of their first 16 games to begin the year, Winthrop racked up over eight three-pointers per game during their 2020 campaign, leading to over 79 points per game. One of the most balanced teams in the nation offensively, the team had three players average more than ten points per game, including guard Chandler Vaudrin.
Enjoying one of the best seasons in school history after transferring from Walsh, Vaudrin racked up 12.2 points per game, 7.2 rebounds per game, and 6.9 assists per game. Looking to pull off one of the most common opening round upsets, the team will meet Villanova on Friday night.
The feel-good story of this year’s March Madness the Raiders are set to make their first appearance in the field since 1996 after capturing the Patriot League championship. Full of firepower on offense, Colgate averaged more than 86 points per game throughout the regular season while shooting over 40 percent from behind the arc. Along with this, the team also excelled at taking care of the basketball, with just 10.2 turnovers averaged per game.
Led by standout guard Jordan Burns, the Raiders are set to square off against Arkansas on Friday night in a favourable South division of the bracket. Capturing Patriot League tournament MVP honours, Burns averaged more than 17 points per game throughout the season, helping Colgate land as the final team on our potential cinderella teams in March Madness list.