At the heart of every mid-major is a star who isn't afraid to hit the ground, jump into the stands or just do anything to win for his team and his school.
Many of these players are upperclassmen who paid the price with few winning years. But now? Now, their patience—like Sauron—has payed off. They've helped their teams finally reach the Big Dance. And, like Sauron, they want a shiny, gold ring.
One school hasn't been to the tournament in over 20 years. Another in over 10 years.
Many of these players were anonymous—with the exception of the Wichita State's Fred VanVleet—for the greater part of the year. They didn't get much ink, tweets, barely a mention. That is until now, a time when the country and fans of college basketball can find these Aladdins, these "diamonds in the rough", that make the early rounds of the tournament a rich and savory experience.
Their teams likely won't reach the round of 32, but if they do, you better believe these unsung stars will play a major role in that.