Cinderella stories are always popular during the NCAA tournament, and this year is no different. There are plenty of smaller programs that have already made names for themselves and are looking to keep their season going a little bit longer.
In the round of 64, there are a lot of programs waiting to make their own Cinderella stories. Here are a few that will be pulling off some big wins in their first game in the Big Dance.
Saint Louis Billikens
I’m still not sure what a Billiken is, but Saint Louis is certainly making a big splash in the tournament. They were able to earn a No. 4 seed in the Midwest region after a successful season in the Atlantic 10 conference.
Right now, the Billikens look like the hottest team in the nation. In their last 25 games, they’ve gone 24-1. They finished with a 13-3 conference record, with three wins against Butler and two against VCU.
The Billikens will be going up against New Mexico State and will advance with ease. They are capable of playing great defense, allowing only 58.1 points per game. They also force 3.8 more turnovers than they commit, giving them one of the best turnover margins in the nation.
Don’t scratch off the Billikens because they’re ready to go dancing.
Even though the Bruins are the underdog in their first game, look out for them to pull off the big upset.
The No. 11 seeded Bruins will be going up against No. 6 Arizona in their first game. The Wildcats are a strong team, with Mark Lyons, Solomon Hill and Nick Johnson all scoring at least 10 points a game. However, there is one thing that they struggle against.
Luckily for the Bruins, that’s what they excel at. As a team, they are shooting 38.6 percent from behind the arc, the 18th-best in the NCAA. Ian Clark and Trevor Noack lead the way, shooting 46.3 percent and 41.8 percent respectively from three-point land.
With some big shooters, the Bruins will stun the Wildcats. Mark it on your brackets.
Every year, the Bulldogs get no love, yet they've also made a few deep tournament runs these past few years.
Now, the Bulldogs have gotten some more attention. They earned a No. 6 seed, and will be going up against No. 11 Bucknell.
The Bulldogs should win this game without much trouble. Bucknell has yet to be tested, playing zero games against anyone in the Top 25. With that lack of experience against good teams, they will be in trouble against Butler.
There are a few stars on the Bulldogs, including Rotnei Clarke and Andrew Smith. Clarke has been an incredible shooter, shooting 41.2 percent from behind the arc. Smith is also a solid scorer, scoring 11.1 points per game on nearly 50 percent shooting. These guys will help Butler coast past Bucknell without much trouble.
The Bulldogs, and the state of Indiana, want to see the team make a run in the tournament. Unless they play Indiana, in which case the state will be divided.
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