10 CBB Teams Poised to Be Next Year's Tourney Cinderella

Talib BabbCorrespondent IJuly 29, 2012

10 CBB Teams Poised to Be Next Year's Tourney Cinderella

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    The mid-major conference teams are always hungry to prove that they belong. Each one of those conferences has a few teams that are ready to give the big boys a run for their money in the NCAA Tournament.

    Last season, there was no mid-major team that traveled far enough in the tournament to be called a "Cinderella" team. However, this year things may be different. With some great recruiting and coaching, some teams have a chance to create a Cinderella story in next season's tournament.

    Here are 10 teams that are primed for a Cinderella run in the "big dance" next season.

10. New Mexico State

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    The Aggies of New Mexico State were able to go 26-10 last season and fought their way into the tourney.

    Coming from the very competitive WAC conference, they lost by only 13 in the second round of the tourney to a very good Indiana team. Next season, they will be led by the junior shooting guard from Canada, Christian Kabongo.

    Kabongo is a solid scorer and last season was the second go-to-guy on the team. Now that he will be the leader, his scoring should go up and he will have the ability to take the team to greater lengths.

9. University of Houston

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    The Houston Cougars struggled to be a .500 team last season. 

    However, they do have some positives. Their leading scorer Jonathon Simmons is returning. Simmons averaged just under 15 points per game. The Cougars also have two recruits from the ESPN top 100, one of them in the top 20.

    This is one of their best recruiting classes in a long time. The Cougars will be much improved this season and may be able to win the Conference USA tournament. If they can do that, watch out for a few upsets in the NCAA tournament.

8. Nevada

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    The Nevada Wolf Pack ended last season with a loss in the NIT. They went 28-7, however, they did not have enough quality wins and they did not win the competitive Mountain West Conference.

    This season, they have a shot at pulling off a few upsets in the tourney. Their leading scorer Deonte Burton is returning and he should be back improved as a point guard.

    If the Wolf Pack can punch their ticket into the tourney, they can put on the glass slipper.

7. Virginia Commonwealth

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    The Cinderella team of the 2011 NCAA tournament, the VCU Rams, can make another run at it in 2013. 

    They also lost last season in the tournament to the Hoosiers, but in a heartbreaker, as they went down by two. They will only lose Bradford Burgess, who was their leading scorer, but their other key players remain. His brother Jordan, who is ranked in the ESPN top 100 high school recruits, will join the team next season.

    They also have the very methodical, and one of the best, young coaches in college basketball in Shaka Smart. If the Rams find a way in to the tourney, it should be no surprise if they make another deep run. 

6. San Diego State

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    The San Diego State Aztecs have been on the rise for the past two seasons. They have made the tournament two seasons in a row and their program is becoming a well-respected basketball school.

    They have a solid recruiting class and their leading scorer Jamaal Franklin will be back. The Mountain West Player of the Year averaged 17 points a game and also snagged 7.9 boards a game. 

    The Aztecs have one of the best coaches in college basketball in Steve Fisher. Fisher is a great teacher and is battle tested as a coach, so his team will never quit. They will go deep in the tourney next season.

5. Wichita State

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    Although Wichita State fell victim to the 5-12 upset in the tournament last season, they will be back and just as good. They went 27-6 and dominated the Missouri Valley Conference.

    Their three leading scorers are departing, but others are there to fill those holes.

    Coach Greg Marshall thinks that this is the best recruiting class he has ever had and if they live up to that, the Shockers will do just that in the tourney. 

4. Butler

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    The Butler Bulldogs have worn the glass slipper before in consecutive years—back in 2010 and 2011. This year, they sure would love to have that magic happen again. 

    They have a new weapon to welcome to the team, Rotnei Clarke. Clarke sat out last season because he transferred from Arkansas. While a Razorback, he was one of the best 3-point shooters in the country, shooting 43 percent from long range.

    Clarke also averaged 15.2 points a game his last season there. Coach Brad Stevens is one of the best young coaches in college basketball. Stevens will know how to utilize Clarke effectively and they will make a run in the tourney.

3. Creighton

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    The Creighton Bluejays will have a shot to upset any team in the tournament next season for one reason—Doug McDermott.

    McDermott is a projected candidate for National Player of the Year. He averaged 22.9 points per game last season and shot 60 percent from the field. He reminds many of Jimmer Fredette because of the way he can take over games with his scoring. 

    McDermott put up 30 points four times last season and even dropped 44 points in a game. 

    They will shock a few teams in the tourney next season if McDermott can take over the game.

2. UNLV

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    The Rebels are primed to make a shocking run in the tourney next season. They managed to get the sixth seed in last season's tournament.

    They have one of the best recruiting classes in the country and they were able to grab the No. 7 player in the ESPN top 100, power forward Anthony Bennett. 

    Their leading scorer Mike Moser is returning and they also have the transfer, forward/center Khem Birch, joining them. Birch was a McDonald's All-American in high school and will be a defensive presence for the Rebels.

    The Rebels will be pulling off plenty upsets in the tourney next season.  

1. Gonzaga

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    The Gonzaga Bulldogs lost by seven to Ohio State in the tourney last season. They will compete with the top teams just the same next season and are the top team primed to become Cinderella.

    Though they have lost Robert Sacre, guard Kevin Pangos who was their leading scorer, is returning. Their second leading scorer Elias Harris is also returning and the forward/center Sam Dower is expected to replace Sacre.

    Dower is a solid shot-maker and can face up against other big men to knock down mid-range jumpers. Coach Mark Few has been a great coach and will find a way to put his team in position to win. 

    They look ready to wear the glass slipper next season.