Fun as they may be, let's take a quick break from Top 25 rankings and all the talk of undefeated seasons to pay some attention to the teams like Southern Miss and Belmont that are going to make or break your bracket this March. In other words: Cinderella candidates.
Way, way back in early November before a single game of the 2013-14 season had even been played, we took a shot at nominating five Cinderella candidates based on a number of common trends between teams who had recently made a surprising run in the NCAA tournament.
Well, now that those teams have played about 15 games, it's hard to imagine some of them even have a shot at making the NIT tourney. Thus, it's time to refresh the list.
Using the same criteria as before—a copious number of steals on defense, a better-than-average point guard, a gunner who takes and makes a lot of three-pointers and a non-conference schedule with a handful of quality opponents—we've updated and expanded those rankings based on how teams fared in the first two months of the season.
Please note that even though a deep run by Fordham or DePaul is about as unlikely as anything that will actually happen in the 2014 NCAA Tournament, all teams from the 10 "major" conferences have been excluded from consideration.
Those conferences are the AAC, ACC, Atlantic-10, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Mountain West, Pac-12, SEC and West Coast. Wichita State was also removed from the field of candidates, but other teams from the Missouri Valley were welcome to throw their hat into the ring.
Unless otherwise noted, all statistics on the following slides are courtesy of ESPN.com and are current through the start of play on Monday, January 6.