Who Fits the NCAA Glass Slipper
Little known, unheralded teams who survive and advance in the NCAA tournament through the first weekend earn the overused title of Cinderella. Think Butler or VCU in the NCAA Tournament the past three years. Usually double digit seeds, these teams beat opponents with superb defense and rebounding, and an overall toughness that some of the more popular teams lack. This year, we've already seen enough upsets for the whole tournament. With the Sweet 16 looming, these are the teams that have the best chance to become the tourney Cinderella.
Led by one of the tournament's best scorers, Marshall Henderson, Ole Miss has a great shot at going far this year. Ole Miss beat Wisconsin late in their second round game, holding a normally effective Wisconsin team to a miserable 25% from the field. A Bo Ryan coached team doesn't usually get rattled, but Ole Miss had Wisco on edge all game. Henderson is a question mark, but he stays true to the player he is. Even if he scores 0 in the first half of a game, he'll keep his shots and confidence up. With a matchup against La Salle in the wings, I can see Ole Miss getting past the Explorers and their inconsistent offense. If Ole Miss can reach the Sweet 16, I would give them a legitimate shot at taking down the Zags.
Florida Gulf Coast
Though a 15 seed has never made it to the Sweet 16, Florida Gulf Coast may have what it takes to get past San Diego State. The Eagles shocked the world when they defeated Georgetown by 10 in their first game of the tournament. If you remember, Florida also handed Miami a loss earlier in the year. Not your typical 15 seed, the Eagles are led by Senior Guard Sherwood Brown. They've also got significant depth, playing 9 deep against Georgetown. San Diego State and Jamaal Franklin may just go in a destroy the overachieving Eagles, but I'd feel confident saying that Florida Gulf Coast could be the first 15 seed to ever reach the Sweet 16.
Another team that ma have been deserving of a higher seed, Oregon showed that they are a force to be reckoned with beating up a very talented Oklahoma State team. Oregon exemplifies team basketball. There are no real stars on the roster, which makes them dangerous because any player could step up at any time. Their Freshman guards Dominic Artis and Damyean Dotson led the Ducks in their first game. Their speed and athleticism may be too much for Saint Louis to handle in the coming game. Saint Louis plays a slower paced, physical type of basketball, which could lead to another Oregon upset. If the Ducks can force turnovers and get out and run, Oregon could be Sweet 16 bound.
Whether these teams, or any other of the lower seeds gets another upset, it'll be another Cinderella story that the NCAA just can't get enough of. Don't expect any of these teams to make it deeper than the Elite 8, but as we've seen all season, anything is possible this year.