Ever since George Mason made its magical run to the Final Four in 2006, college basketball fans across America have hoped history would eventually repeat itself.
This won't be the year. Sorry.
Butler and Gonzaga have a decent chance of advancing past the Sweet 16, but they're not real Cinderellas. They've been ranked all year.
This slideshow will present to you five mid-majors who have what it takes to win at least one game, if not more.
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Cornell's sole Ivy League loss at Penn could severely lower the Big Red's seeding, but as the crew from Ithaca showed on Jan. 6, they can play with anybody.
Cornell brings seniority, effective ball distribution, and the country's second-best three-point percentage to the mix.
Add those three factors together, and potential opponents will keep their fingers crossed on Selection Sunday, praying to face someone other than the Big Red.
Ryan Wittman, Cornell's leading scorer, is a tough defensive assignment. His quick release and endless range make him difficult to keep off the scoreboard. The senior is averaging 17.4 points per game while shooting 40.9 percent from deep.
A senior point guard is vital to mid-major success in March Madness, and Cornell has Louis Dale to meet that criterion. While Dale's assist-to-turnover ratio is only 2:1, the floor general sees the floor well and is averaging 4.7 assists per game.
Like every other player on Cornell, Dale can also knock down the trey. The Alabama native is shooting 37.6 percent from long range.
Jeff Foote, Cornell's seven-foot center, will play an essential role in the Big Dance. He provides the Big Red with an inside presence worth defending, so opponents cannot solely focus on shutting down the perimeter. Cornell's shooters will have more space with Foote in the game.
Sophomore Chris Wroblewski and seniors Geoff Reeves and Jon Jacques are all valuable shooters. None of them shoot lower than 43.7 percent from long range.
Pretty much, opposing defenses will constantly have their hands full. Even when Foote is on the bench, opponents won't possibly be able to suffocate all of Cornell's long-range threats.
Offense is a strength for Cornell, but the Big Red are effective on defense as well.
Opponents are averaging just 62.9 points per game on 41.3 percent shooting. The Big Red also force 14.1 turnovers per game and out-rebound opponents by 3.4.
Look for Cornell to advance if they are pitted against anything less than decent perimeter defense.
Lots of people jumped on the Utah State bandwagon last year. They were disappointed.
As a result, many of those bandwagoners might be discouraged from hopping back on the Aggie-Mobile this season. They shouldn't be.
Although Utah State lost Gary Wilkinson and Stavon Williams, this year's team is a better version of the squad that fell by one point to Marquette in the first round.
This team shoots 48.8 percent from the floor and leads the nation with a 42.6 percent conversion rate from deep. The Aggies get the job done defensively as well, holding opponents to 40.2 percent field-goal shooting and 32.4 percent three-point shooting.
Good defense leads to missed shots, and Utah State capitalizes on its opponents' misses. The Aggies are out-rebounding foes 35.1 to 29.3.
As a result, Utah State is outscoring its opponents 73.1 to 59.4.
Like Cornell, the Aggies have an inside presence. To be exact, they have two big men who free up space for the shooters.
Tai Wesley and Nate Bendall occupy the paint and are efficient in scoring the basketball. Wesley leads the Aggies with 13.4 points per game on 56.7 percent field-goal shooting, while Bendall posts 10.6 ppg on 58.1 percent shooting.
When defenses focus on Utah State's bigs, shooters Jared Quayle, Pooh Williams, Tyler Newbold, and Brian Green take advantage.
The fact that Quayle is Utah State's only senior could convince many to pick against the Aggies. However, this team has clearly molded into a cohesive unit, a claim supported by a current 14-game win streak. In addition, the remainder of the core consists primarily of juniors.
Although Utah State has some bad early-season losses, they did beat BYU, proving they can play with the big boys.
Patty Mills is gone, and the Gaels don't have a signature victory, but this team is capable of winning at least one game in the Big Dance.
Like Cornell and Utah State, St. Mary's couples extraordinary outside shooting with a post presence—only the Gaels' big man is much more dominant than Foote, Wesley, and Bendall.
Omar Samhan is averaging 21.5 points per game on 54.6 percent field-goal shooting. The 6'11" center also toes the charity stripe 6.7 times per game and connects on 73.1 percent of his free throws.
Often, Samhan requires a double team. When he draws a second defender, St. Mary's shooters can take advantage.
The Gaels are No. 5 in the nation with a 40.9 percent three-point percentage and have what seems to be an unlimited resource of shooters. They even have another 6'11" forward/center who can extend his range to beyond the arc.
Overall, St. Mary's is an efficient offensive team, scoring on 48.5 percent of its shots and averaging 79.8 ppg. The Gaels also distribute the ball well, averaging 16.6 apg.
Defensively, St. Mary's suffocates the perimeter, and opponents are shooting a paltry 28.2 percent from long range. As a result, St. Mary's has won a number of games by the trey.
If you don't believe it, look at the Gaels' box score vs. Utah State. The Aggies shot 3-of-12 from deep, and St. Mary's won 68-63. Yep, that's the same Utah State that leads the country in three-point percentage.
Inside the arc, the defense is thinner. Opponents are shooting 47 percent within the perimeter.
The Gaels also foul 16.6 times per game; Samhan accounts for three of those fouls.
If an opponent has a strong inside game, the Gaels could be in trouble. However, they should beat a team that relies on nailing the three.
Yes, they play in the Ohio Valley Conference.
Yes, they lack a signature win.
But the Murray State Racers are not a team to ignore. If you make that mistake, your bracket could be in serious trouble.
Murray State is one of two teams in the entire country to shoot over 50 percent while holding opponents under 40%. The other school? No. 1 Syracuse.
Against bigger, more athletic teams, the Racers likely won't be as effective on both ends. For example, Murray State shot 50 percent in a five-point loss to Cal, but the Golden Bears shot 46.2 percent.
While Cal shot eight points higher than Murray State's FG defense average, the Racers lost the game because of fouls. Murray State committed 24 fouls, and the Golden Bears toed the charity stripe 32 times.
The Racers average 17.2 fouls per game and will definitely need to keep the whistle from blowing against them.
Despite fouling, Murray State has been successful because of its depth and balanced offense. Five Racers are averaging over 10 points per game, and one more is at 9.5 ppg. When one player gets into foul trouble, the offense can adjust.
Defensively, Murray State forces 17.2 turnovers per game. Ten of those are steals, which enable the Racers to break into transition. They also out-rebound opponents by 5.8 per night.
If you believe in luck, Murray State's your team. Isaiah Canaan knocked down a half-court shot from his butt as the shot clock expired. That's pretty lucky.
Combine the balanced, efficient offense, the effective suffocating defense, and the Racers' luck, and you have a team destined to win.
Photo from examiner.com
Old Dominion is a defensive-minded team. The Monarchs hold opponents to 40.2 percent shooting from the floor, 30.1 percent from deep, and 56.9 points per game.
ODU out-rebounds opponents by 7.9 boards, forces 14.6 turnovers per game, and averages 7.9 steals.
The Monarchs have a balance of guards and big men, so their defense can be effective against anyone.
Just because the Monarchs focus on defense doesn't mean they lack an effective offense. As a team, they are shooting 44.8 percent from the floor and average 67 points per game.
A core comprised of several upperclassmen provides a balanced attack. Senior Gerald Lee leads the way with 14.3 ppg, and five Monarchs contribute seven or more.
ODU has been somewhat inconsistent but showed its defense can be effective against the big boys, holding Georgetown to 57 points in a Monarch victory.