It’s hard to believe that Selection Sunday for the 2013 NCAA tournament is just a few days away. There are still plenty of programs fighting for a spot in the 68-team field during the Championship Week conference tournaments.
There are also a handful of schools that look to have a bid locked up and would be wise to start looking ahead to March Madness—which begins in earnest on Tuesday, March 19.
With that being said, we’re here to identify a handful of sleeper teams that could make a deep run through this event, shocking the world and building its fanbase with each improbable victory.
Let’s take a look.
This team is definitely one of the more interesting participants in the tournament.
On paper, it seems that the Bluejays will be toast if Doug McDermott can be shut down. While this theory may hold true, good luck finding a way to stop this kid.
The junior forward is averaging a ridiculous 23.1 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game. He’s a lights-out shooter that can make opponents pay from anywhere on the floor.
At 6’8”, he has the height to rise and fire over most perimeter defenders, knows how to run off screens and always finds new ways to get open for a shot. No matter how often double-teams and other defensive techniques are thrown at him, McDermott finds a way to get his shot.
Unfortunately, after expelling all that energy on the offensive end, McDermott is not regarded as a great defender and neither are his teammates. Creighton is going to need to win games by outscoring the opposition—plain and simple.
If McDermott’s jumper is falling and the rest of the role players are chipping in, there’s no telling how far this group can go, but a cold-shooting stretch could sink the Bluejays earlier than expected.
La Salle Explorers
This up-and-down program still has work left to do to secure a spot in the Big Dance for the first time since 1992. Assuming the Explorers can make a bit of noise in the loaded Atlantic 10 tourney, they should have no problem punching their ticket into the NCAA tournament.
Should La Salle make the field, keep a close eye on Ramon Galloway.
This senior guard is the type of star that excels under the bright lights and could build quite a following when all is said and done this year. He averaged 17.4 points, 4.7 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 2.1 steals during 2012-13 campaign and is an impressive two-way player.
Galloway has helped revitalize the Explorers and has been their best player since transferring from South Carolina after the 2010-11 season. He has to realize how important it is for his current squad to make the NCAA field and should put on a clinic over the next few days.
Add in PG Tyreek Duren’s facilitating abilities and you have a 1-2 combo that could get the job done and surprise a few people on the way to a Sweet 16 appearance.
Say what you will about the Owls, we believe they are a legitimate threat to make a run to the Final Four.
They finished the regular season strong, winning their past seven games, including an 84-76 shellacking of No. 21 VCU. On top of that, they have the pieces required to make a serious run in March.
Khalif Wyatt is a great scorer, inside and out. He averaged 19.9 points per game this year, while also dishing 4.1 assists and grabbing 2.9 rebounds. The senior guard is definitely the signature star that can put the team on his back, but he’s also not the only heavy lifter the Owls possess.
Swingman Scootie Randall is a great asset, with range out to the three-point line and the ability to bang inside with his 6’6” frame. He’s also a senior and brings additional leadership to a veteran team.
Factor in Anthony Lee, a sophomore averaging 10.3 points and 7.1 rebounds, and you have an interior presence that complete tournament teams have.
We’re not saying Temple will make a Final Four run, but they could easily do it and have everything going—including momentum—to make it happen.