By Daniel Schmelzer @D_Schmelzer on March 16, 2014
At last, March Madness is here. Each and every season, teams that we have barely even heard of come out of nowhere and make a run in the NCAA tournament. With more parity in college basketball than ever before, upsets are happening all the time. Before you fill out your bracket, make sure you take a look at this list filled with sleeper teams that could jump up and surprise in the NCAA tournament.
As the MAC tournament champions, Western Michigan made the NCAA tournament as a 14 seed. In the first round, it will play 3rd seed Syracuse. Western Michigan is playing great right now, and is led by David Brown and Shayne Whittington. The Broncos could be able to take advantage of the Syracuse zone from the inside and using the drive game. Syracuse is ripe for an upset, and a veteran team like Western Michigan can certainly pull it off.
The Dayton Flyer just got into the tournament as an No. 11 seed, and will Ohio State. Dayton is a talented, well coached and experienced team that will surely be ready to play against the big boys from their home state. Ohio State is a very inconsistent team that I think is ripe for an upset.
North Dakota State is a veteran team that will make some noise in this tournament. Led by G Taylor Braun, the Bison are a high scoring team that plays tough defense and simply does not get blown out. As a No. 12 seed, the Bison take on a tough No. 5 seed in Oklahoma. I think NDSU has a good chance of winning and advancing even further in a bracket set up well for them.
It may be a bit of a stretch to call Baylor a Cinderella, but I think this team has a chance to make a big run in this tournament. Baylor is very long and athletic, and it is the No. 6 seed in a West bracket that appears ripe for the taking. Baylor has the talent to make a legitimate run in this thing and upset the likes of Creighton and Wisconsin along the way.
Stanford is a very talented team that is well coached. It is the 10th seed in the South bracket, with a matchup against New Mexico waiting for it. I like Stanford in that game, and think it would have a legitimate chance against a talented Kansas team in the next round.
Oklahoma State is one of the most talented, yet inconsistent teams in the tournament. Led by gifted PG Marcus Smart, the Cowboys are the No. 9 seed in the West. Oklahoma State is talented enough to beat anybody in the country, including No. 1 seed Arizona, who they could meet very early on.
Led by a group of experienced seniors, St. Joseph's surprised many when it defeated VCU for the Atlantic 10 tournament championship. St. Joe's is not afraid to play anybody and it is an obvious Cinderella pick in this tournament. As the 10th seed, St. Joe's plays a talented, but inconsistent UCONN team. If it can win, it will likely play a streaky shooting No. 2-seeded Villanova. I think both games are possible wins for this solid squad.
As one of the most storied programs in the history of college basketball, it is really weird calling Kentucky a Cinderella team. That being said, while the talent is obvious, Kentucky has not been able to put it all together this season. The Wildcats are loaded with potential elite level talent, and I would not be surprised to see them make a deep run in this tournament, knocking off undefeated No. 1-seed Wichita State along the way.
Stephen F. Austin is another talented and experienced mid-major team with a nice path through this tournament. They play a vulnerable VCU first before a probably matchup against an inconsistent UCLA team. SFA could easily make some noise early on in this tournament.
As one of the sweethearts from last year's tournament, Harvard is back for another run with almost the same exact squad. This team is one of the most underrated in the field, and I strongly think they will take out No. 5-seeded Cincinnati in their first game. A very tough Michigan State team will likely be waiting for them, but with their great leadership and experience, I think Harvard has a chance against anybody.
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