NCAA Tournament 2014: Under-the-Radar Teams to Monitor on Selection Sunday

Chris RolingFeatured ColumnistMarch 15, 2014

Oregon's Joseph Young celebrates the Duck's victory over Arizona in an NCAA college basketball game in Eugene, Ore. on Saturday, March 8, 2014. (AP Photo/Chris Pietsch)
Chris Pietsch/Associated Press

On the cusp of Selection Sunday, a few bubble teams are worth closely watching for those with plenty on the line in regards to filling out a bracket.

Given how the bracket aligns with potential matchups, a few under-the-radar teams may be fortunate enough to get placed in favorable scenarios. Sometimes teams that already qualify as sleepers are put over the top as bracket favorites thanks to a path that, at least on paper, makes for an easy upset pick or two.

As things stand now with conference championships winding down, the teams set to be in said scenarios have more than enough firepower to make some noise and ruin a few brackets if fans do not pay attention.


Projected bracket seedings courtesy of ESPN's Joe Lunardi as of March 15.


Delaware Fightin' Blue Hens (25-9, projected No. 13 seed)

Dec 18, 2013; Columbus, OH, USA; Delaware Fightin Blue Hens guard Devon Saddler (10) scores against the Ohio State Buckeyes at the Schottenstein Center. Ohio State won the game 76-64. Mandatory Credit: Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports
Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

With a name like the Fightin' Blue Hens, it is hard to ignore Delaware.

But this should especially be the case after Monte Ross' team took home the CAA men's championship with a thrilling 75-74 win over William & Mary to finish off an electric season and secure a bid to the tournament.

Ross himself is happy to go dancing, and says who the team encounters does not really matter, as captured by Andy Walter of the Delaware State News:

“You just don’t know. For us, it doesn’t really matter what seed you are, you’re going to play somebody good. You’re going to have to play well in order to win the game.

“The great thing about it is, it really doesn’t matter. We’re going someplace.”

Sure, the Blue Hens are 1-5 against the top 100. But Ross' squad, led by stars Devon Saddler (19.7 points per game) and Jarvis Threatt (18.1 points per game) have gone 19-2 to finish the year. As it stands now, the team would get a winnable matchup against San Diego State before advancing to face one of Harvard or Connecticut.

Keep a close eye on the Blue Hens when the bracket is formed.


Saint Joseph's Hawks (22-9, projected No. 11 seed)

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 14: Langston Galloway #10 of the Saint Joseph's Hawks runs down the clock late in the second half against the Dayton Flyers during the Quarterfinals of the 2014 Atlantic 10 Men's Basketball Tournament at Barclays Center on March 14, 2
Mike Lawrie/Getty Images

Experts seem to agree that Saint Joseph's will eek into the NCAA tournament after a win over Dayton in the A-10 tournament:

CBS Sports' Jeff Borzello concurs:

They are now 5-5 against the top-50 -- with three wins over Dayton, plus victories over VCU and Massachusetts. The best non-league win was over Boston University, which isn't great, but they are now 11-5 away from home, with only one sub-100 loss.

Led by senior Langston Galloway, who hit the game-winning shot against the Flyers and leads the team in scoring at 17.4 points per game, the Hawks have the offensive prowess to stick with any team they encounter in the Big Dance.

As a No. 11 seed, Saint Joseph's likely encounters New Mexico before presumably Iowa State. While not an easy road, the Hawks average better than 70 points per game and rank just outside the top 50 in the nation in field goal percentage.

With Galloway capable of exploding for more than 30 points on a given night and flanked by other quality shooters, the Hawks can run with any team in the nation.


Oregon Ducks (23-9, projected No. 8 seed)

LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 12:  Joseph Young #3 of the Oregon Ducks brings the ball up the court against the Oregon State Beavers during a first-round game of the Pac-12 Basketball Tournament at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on March 12, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Outside of a high-profile win over possible tournament No. 1 seed Arizona, the Oregon Ducks have quietly been overlooked in regards to the bracket.

But as CBS Sports points out, it was that win over the Wildcats on March 8 that secured the bid and gets most of the attention:

The Ducks are dancing. They were likely in good shape either way, but now they are most certainly in the NCAA Tournament after coming back to beat Arizona, 64-57. Oregon was absolutely on fire in the second half, going 10-for-19 from 3-point range for the game. Jason Calliste was huge off the bench, finishing with 18 points, with Johnathan Loyd chipping in another 16 points. 

Perhaps most impressive in that win is the fact that the Ducks' leading scorer, junior Joseph Young (18.6 points per game), only scored eight points.

A 10-8 mark in the conference is highly discouraging, as is a Pac-12 quarterfinal exit against UCLA in an embarrassing 82-63 loss. But a 1-1 record against the Top 25 suggests the Ducks can play with the best of the best.

Based on current projections, Oregon would get a favorable matchup against Oklahoma State to open the tournament, and then presumably get a shot at a shaky North Carolina team right after. Those are good odds to bet.


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