The NCAA basketball tournament is only a couple of weeks away, and college basketball fans are preparing to fill out their brackets. One of the keys to filling out a successful bracket is to be able to correctly predict who will be this year’s Cinderella story. In past years, it has been Davidson, George Mason and Butler. Last season had two tournament darlings — Florida Gulf Coast and Wichita State.
Who will be that team this March? It might just be the SMU Mustangs.
Some fans may not know much about SMU, but they should start paying attention. The Mustangs are currently 23-6. They are already a lock for the tournament and are now just playing for a higher seed. Some might assume that SMU has a high win total because they have not played good teams, but that is not the case at all. SMU plays in the AAC, which currently has five teams ranked in the top 25. They won against Memphis, Cincinnati and Connecticut twice, and barely lost to Louisville.
SMU has dominated on its home court. The Mustangs are currently 15-0 at home and will play their final home game tonight against 11th=ranked Louisville. I think SMU will defeat Louisville, completing their perfect home record.
In order to understand what an amazing story this year’s Mustangs have, you must first understand their past. They have not made it to the “big dance” since 1993, and they have not won a tournament game since 1988. They were irrelevant for two decades. Then, in April of 2012, the school made a bold move. They hired Hall-of-Fame basketball coach Larry Brown and everything changed.
Thanks to great recruiting by Brown, SMU is school that other schools will not want to see in the tournament. To make the potential Cinderella story even better, the Final Four this year will be held in Arlington, Texas — just 20 miles from Dallas where the SMU campus is.
When fans go to fill out their brackets, their first instinct might be to overlook a team like SMU, but that would be a big mistake. I am not here to guarantee that the Mustangs will be this year’s Cinderella. What I do know is that there will be a Cinderella, and the way this season has gone for this team, I do not see why the Mustangs cannot be this year’s tournament darling.