NCAA Tournament 2012: 5 Cinderella Stories Waiting to Happen

Amelia AhlgrenContributor IIIMarch 10, 2012

HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 02:  The Virginia Commonwealth Rams mascot and cheer team on the baseline as the Rams take on the Butler Bulldogs during the National Semifinal game of the 2011 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship at Reliant Stadium on April 2, 2011 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

March Madness is also known as upset season, and there are five teams licking their chops to dethrone the NCAA's aristocracy.

These guys have been overlooked by the committee, but should not be overlooked by you.

In just five days, the following five bracket busters will showcase their Cinderella status on national television.


Virginia Commonwealth Rams

The Rams are last year's Cinderella, but they're back for the glass slipper in 2012.

After upsetting the Drexel Dragons to win their first automatic tournament bid since 2009, the Rams are rearing to unseat a top seed and once again make headlines.

While many of last year's Rams graduated, lone senior Bradford Burgess boasts Final Four experience and leads the team in scoring.

Behind him are sophomore Juvonte Reddic who is shooting 51.6 percent from the field, and sharpshooter Troy Daniels, who came up clutch in VCU's win over Drexel.

So how can they pull off some upsets?

This Rams team leads the NCAA in steals, averaging 10.7 per game. They also are first in turnover margin, meaning they can hang onto the ball as well.

Most Goliaths come into tournament playing arrogant and sluggish, throwing up weak and sloppy passes. Expect VCU to capitalize.

OMAHA, NE - FEBRUARY 18: Creighton Bluejays fans cheer on their team during their game against the Long Beach State 49ers at CenturyLink Center February 18, 2012 in Omaha, Nebraska. Creighton beat Long Beach State on a last second shot 81-79. (Photo by Er
Eric Francis/Getty Images


Belmont Bruins

The Belmont Bruins have already proven that they can hang with the Goliaths, losing to No. 6 Duke by just a point in their season opener.

The Bruins bounced back from that loss, finishing the season with a 27-7 record. They enter the NCAA tournament riding a 14-game win streak that was fueled by their three-point game.

The Bruins are shooting almost 38 percent from behind the arc. Their three-point shooting is led by secret-weapon Drew Hanlen, who has shot over 50 percent from downtown in the last 10 games.

Belmont's three-point efficiency should stand out as a red flag to top seeds. If a Goliath comes out slow against Belmont, the Bruins could bury threes and run away with it.

Belmont's opponent better wake up if it falls behind early or it could be upset city for the projected No. 14 seed.


St. Mary's Gaels

St. Mary's took the rubber match against No. 24 Gonzaga to win the West Coast Conference tournament title this year.

At 27-5, the Gaels are efficient on offense. They rank 37th overall in points per game and 27th overall in field goal percentage.

LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 09:  Tony Snell #21 of the New Mexico Lobos drives against Anthony Marshall #3 of the UNLV Rebels during a semifinal game of the Conoco Mountain West Conference Basketball tournament at the Thomas & Mack Center March 9, 2012 in Las V
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Three of their players are averaging double digit points, and even freshman Brad Waldow is hauling in 8.2 points by shooting 67.3 percent from the field.

The Gaels also have a scrappy player in Rob Jones, who swipes 10.7 per game off the glass.

If St. Mary's is matched against a top seed with sub-par defense, the Gaels will take it.


New Mexico Lobos

The 26-6 Lobos could have a run in the tournament, relying on their defensive mastery to limit opponents.

The Lobos rank 14th in the NCAA for scoring defense, allowing just 58.8 points per game.

Not only does New Mexico give its opponents a hard time on offense, but the Lobos rebound the missed shots they force. New Mexico is averaging 38 rebounds per game.

If New Mexico can D it up against the big guys, they could slide through to the Sweet 16—or further.


Long Beach State 49ers

If Long Beach State wins tonight to gain an automatic bid to the Dance, they will be a dangerous addition to the field of 68.

The 49ers faced an onslaught of non-conference upper crust early in the season. And they rubbed elbows with the elite just fine, upsetting then-ranked Pitt and Xavier.

Long Beach also endured close losses to UNC (by six) and Kansas (by eight).

They wrapped up the season 24-8, achieving conference dominance with just one loss in the Big West.

Given their familiarity with this year's giants, Long Beach is capable of pulling the rug out from under at least one of them.


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