By Mike Gibson @papreps on March 16, 2014
Negotiating through the NCAA field is like heading through a landmine field without a metal detector.
There are always teams every year that do what they are not supposed to, as evidenced by recent Final Four trips by teams like George Mason and VCU. Then there are the memorable upsets, like Norfolk State over Missouri in 2012 and Florida Gulf Coast over Georgetown last year. Here are five Cinderellas that could advance.
George Washington has a number of impressive wins, including a seven-point win over Creighton on a neutral court, and several transfers from Power 5 Conference schools who will not be intimidated by the limelight. The Colonials (24-8) have beaten defending ACC champion Miami (Fla.) and also own a win over Maryland.
The 26-4 Crimson, coached extremely well by Tommy Amaker, are no stranger to the tournament, having upset New Mexico in a 3-14 game last year. Harvard shoots 39 percent from long range, one of the top-25 three-point percentages in the country. The Crimson will give Cincinnati all it can handle.
The Metro Atlantic Conference champions (25-7) are coached by Steve Masiello, a former Kentucky player. They own impressive wins at La Salle (a Sweet 16 team last year) and at South Carolina of the SEC. In Ashton Pankey is a former Maryland player with an intimidating defensive presence in the middle. They also have a guard in George Beamon, who averages 19.2 points per game. They will not be intimidated by Louisville.
The Minutemen have an impressive RPI of 16 and have beaten No. 23 Virginia Commonwealth and also own solid non-conference wins (Clemson, New Mexico, BYU and LSU). They also have experience seniors guard Chaz Williams (15.8 ppg.), forward Sampson Carter (10.7 ppg.) and 6-foot-10 junior center Cady Lalanne (11.9 ppg).
It's hard to put any Big 10 team as a sleeper, but the Cornhuskers (19-12) certainly qualify. They have eight wins over teams in the top 100 of the RPI and three against Top 25 teams (Ohio State, Michigan and Wisconsin). The most impressive thing about the Cornhuskers, though, is that they won 10 of their last 12 games in a conference which was widely considered the best in the country this season. They are peaking at the right time.
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