The NCAA men’s basketball tournament is one of the most exciting annual sporting events in the world, largely because practically every squad 68-team field has a chance to win and anything can happen.
2013 projects to be no different, as we foresee plenty of thrilling contests going wire-to-wire, overtime battles and buzzer-beaters looming on the horizon.
Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of March Madness is when a low-seeded program comes out of nowhere to make a magical run during the tourney.
It’s always fun to watch David take down Goliath and a Cinderella story unfold, so let’s take a look at a few candidates to earn that distinction this year.
Superstar forward Doug McDermott and his father, coach Greg McDermott, helped navigate the Bluejays through a thrilling Missouri Valley Conference tournament that culminated with a championship game victory over the feisty Wichita State Shockers.
The team is clearly heating up at the right time and has now won five games in a row. They are taking this momentum into the NCAA tournament and have the pieces in place to advance deep.
Perhaps the only concern for this squad is its lackluster defensive capabilities, but that can easily be hidden if its shot attempts are falling.
McDermott is a bona fide star who averaged 23.1 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.6 assists during the 2012-13 campaign. He’s going to be the one taking (and likely making) all the big shots for Creighton and has proven time and time again that he can slip double teams and always seems to find new ways to get open.
The 6’8” junior is augmented perfectly by a plethora of role players that screen, rebound, hustle and do all the little things necessary to get a victory.
Khalif Wyatt is the engine that keeps this Owls program running. He’s putting up a solid 19.9 points, 4.1 assists, 2.9 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game this season, helping Temple to a respectable record that includes some big-time victories over top-notch competition.
Wins over then No. 3 Syracuse and recently No. 21 VCU are two big notches in this program's belt and further proves that the Owls should be considered one of the most dangerous underdogs during March Madness.
It all hinges on Scootie Randall and Anthony Lee stepping up and making their shots consistently, as the team as a whole has struggled at times with field goal percentage.
Aside from the shooting woes, Temple has the personnel to match up with most foes in the paint and defensively at every position. Anything could happen if the Owls can get their jumper to fall during the tournament.
The Ohio Valley Conference champions likely can’t wait to dance in 2013, as they are riding one of the bigger hot streaks in all of college basketball.
How far will Belmont advance?
Since New Year’s Day, Belmont has only lost two contests, putting together a ridiculous 17-2 record in that span. The Bruins dominated in the conference postseason tourney up until the finals, in which their mettle was tested and resolve shown in a 70-68 overtime victory against Murray State.
Ian Clark (18.1 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.6 steals per game) and Kerron Johnson (13.7 points, 3.2 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 1.8 steals per game) make up perhaps one the best backcourt tandems in the nation and their play could see this group going extremely far into the NCAA tourney.
While the level of competition Belmont faced isn’t exactly the best, we’re positive that no opposing team is looking forward to matching up with the Bruins this month.