March Madness Underdogs
Many of us remember this time two years ago, when Florida Gulf Coast went to the sweet 16 as a #15 seed, and some of you may remember the iconic game back in 1989 when #1 Georgetown just barely slid past a #16 seed, Princeton. March Madness has been full of chaos — madness, if you will — since its birth in 1939. But this story is not all about the past, it’s about the present.
Who will be the underdogs in 2015?
Here are just a couple of my predictions: (Since I wrote this a little late, I won’t talk about the upsets that have already taken place, which are #11 UCLA over #6 SMU, #14 UAB over #3 Iowa State, and #14 Georgia State over Baylor). I stand greatly opposed in my high opinions of the following two teams, but I stand by my pick.
I predict that #7 Wichita State will advance to the Elite Eight. They were a #1 seed last year and would have a hard time matching up with the 2013–2014 Shockers. Wichita State lost 4 seniors after the 2013–2014 season. But, they have only lost 4 games this year, which were against Utah (#5 in the NCAA tournament), George Washington University, Northern Illinois (#14 in the NCAA tournament), and finally Northern Iowa university (also #5 in the NCAA tournament).
They are a fast team, no size. This will make it a little more difficult for the little men of Wichita. They have high-scoring games because they are constantly scoring off fast-breaks. They are also very effective from beyond the arc. This gives them an advantage against bigger teams like Kentucky and Wisconsin. Their coach, Gregg Marshall also has the highest winning percentage in Division I (.834). That’s why I think the Shockers will shock the NCAA basketball world this year.
Another one of the underdogs that can do a lot of damage this year is the Dayton Flyers. My first reason is that they had a great run last year in the tourney. They came into the tournament as a #11 seed. They got all the way to the Elite Eight, then Florida put an end to their Cinderella story, unfortunately.
They are a small team as well, with only one player over 6'6". They are also very young with only 2 seniors on the squad. The Flyers like to slow it down, run their plays until they get an open shot, and they never force shots. For example, they showed this tactic in the game to get into the tournament facing Boise State. The final score was 56–55. Both teams played the same way. Boise went 50% from the free throw line, and Dayton was 64% from the line and that was the difference. Their patience and smart, fundamental basketball is what will “fly” them through the NCAA tournament.
There are many other teams in the tournament that do not get the recognition they deserve, but I felt these two were especially noteworthy. I look forward to watching the Flyers and the Shockers contend in the tournament.
Edit: I had originally said that Florida Gulf Coast was a 16 seed — they were actually a 15 seed.