NCAA Tournament 2012: Cinderella and Sleeper Teams for March Madness

Ethan ArnoldCorrespondent IMarch 11, 2012

NCAA Tournament 2012: Cinderella and Sleeper Teams for March Madness

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    It's finally here. Not only does the NCAA tournament begin on Tuesday, but so do the bracket pools. In order to win your pool, you need to have the best bracket and in order to have the best bracket you need to be aware of the potential Cinderella and sleeper teams.

    It's not the best team that wins the tournament, but the hottest team. Here are four notable teams that could make some noise in this year's tournament. 

Creighton University

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    Creighton has a legitimate chance at making a run in the NCAA tournament following a strong regular season.

    The Blue Jays have a good combination of skilled guards and an elite scorer in NBA prospect Doug McDermott. During the season, Creighton led the nation in shooting percentage and ranked second in assists per game.

    As long as Doug McDermott is on the court, the Creighton Blue Jays' likelihood of advancing deep into the tournament is as good as any team's. 

Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU)

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    This is more than likely the team that busted your bracket last year and cost you that fat wad of cash in your bracket pool.

    Last March, VCU made a historic run, journeying all the way to the Final Four as a 12-seed before losing to the Butler Bulldogs.

    VCU may not have an elite scorer or a superstar to lead their team, but they do have Shaka Smart. Smart has proven his ability to motivate and lead his team in high-pressure situations. History tends to repeat itself—and don't be surprised if that's the case in this year's tournament.

University of Cincinnati

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    The Bearcats had a strong second half of the season, beating teams like Syracuse, Georgetown and Marquette. Cincinnati's stubborn defense is capable of taking them deep into the tournament.

    Although they are not known for their offense, Cincinnati has four players that average 10 points or more per game. The Bearcats' tournament fate will heavily rely on the performance of center Yancy Gates. Gates' big body can match up with anybody defensively and when locked in, he can really be a problem for opposing defenses.

    UC has been hot as of late. If they can continue playing at their current level, expect the Bearcats to win some games in the NCAA tournament. 

Murray State University

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    The Murray State Racers might not be considered much of a Cinderella or sleeper team considering they are ranked in the top 10, but because of their weak schedule, they will more than likely receive a lower seed (probably between four and six) in the NCAA tournament.

    One thing is clear with Murray State; they can shoot the three ball. The Racers shot a ridiculous 40 percent from behind the arc in the 2011-2012 season. Junior guard Isaiah Canaan was 47 percent from three-point range while averaging 19.2 points per game, and will be the guy that needs to step up in the tournament.

    Murray State does lack size but if their three-point game is on, their tournament life could extend into the later rounds.