The 2021 NCAA males’s basketball event options the return of a outstanding Cinderella.
Loyola-Chicago, which captivated the nation with a Last 4 in 2018, is again within the event. Will Sister Jean — now 101 years outdated — make her approach to Indianapolis?
The Ramblers are a recognized commodity, and a No. 8 seed suggests they may not be a real sleeper heading into this 12 months’s event. Gonzaga and San Diego State, which additionally gained their convention tournaments exterior the standard energy conferences, don’t match that description both.
As a substitute, we checked out a number of the groups from exterior the main conferences who had been additionally had been the highest seed of their respective convention tournaments. Loyola was a type of 9 colleges, and there’s statistical proof to again that up.
Within the expanded bracket period, a complete of 59 groups seeded No. 13 or decrease have pulled a first-round upset. Greater than half of these groups – 30 of 59 – had been the No. 1 seed of their convention event. 9 of these groups went on to make the Candy 16.
With that in thoughts, SN seems at a few of these sizzling sleeper groups to bear in mind when filling out your bracket. Seven of those groups had been the No. 1 seed of their convention event:
March Insanity sleeper picks, upset predictions
Finest bets to achieve Candy 16
The Flames have gained 12 straight video games heading into the Huge Dance, and this program is 82-16 over the past three seasons. Liberty pulled a 5-12 upset in 2019, and they’ve the guard play essential to make a run with Darius McGhee and Chris Parker. Liberty is certainly one of six workforce in Division I that averaged fewer than 10 turnovers per recreation. That environment friendly play may simply result in an upset. That model may make it attention-grabbing in opposition to Oklahoma State and the winner of Tennessee-Oregon State. That is one 4-13 upset we like.
UC-Santa Barbara (22-4)
The Gauchos have misplaced only one recreation since Jan. 1. That is their first event look since 2011, however UC-Santa Barbara brings an skilled workforce that has gained 20-plus video games every of the final 4 seasons underneath Joe Pasternack. Jaquori McLaughlin averages 16.2 factors and 5.2 assists per recreation. This can be a workforce able to beating Creighton and difficult the winner of Virginia-Ohio. That is the 5-12 upset we like.
Different sleepers who may pull off upsets
The Ramblers gained the Missouri Valley Convention. Cameron Krutwig, who was a key participant on that Last 4 workforce, averages 15 factors and 6.7 rebounds per recreation. Loyola-Chicago performed only one ranked workforce this season – a 77-66 loss to Wisconsin – however Porter Moser brings a workforce into the event with the fourth-highest field-goal proportion (50.5 p.c) within the nation. Will Sister Jean – now 101 years outdated – make her approach to Indianapolis? It is only a robust draw in the event that they get to the second spherical in opposition to Illinois.
The Eagles are again within the event for the primary time since 2017, and that is the second look underneath ninth-year coach Pat Kelsey. Winthrop has 4 gamers who averaged double figures. Senior Chandler Vaudrin and freshman D.J. Burns are productive within the publish, and the Eagles rank within the top-10 within the nation in rebounding in consequence. That could be a good components to take into the event for a doable upset bid. Villanova is a troublesome matchup, however the publish presence may make it attention-grabbing.
The Spartans gained eight of their final 10 video games and gained the Southern Convention event. Senior guard Isaiah Miller averages 27.4 factors in its final 5 video games, and he shot 50 p.c from the ground within the SoCon event. If Miller continues that sizzling streak, then UNC-Greensboro will make it attention-grabbing for Florida State.
Cleveland State (19-7)
Any time the Vikings get within the event it generates reminiscences of Clinton Smith, Ken “Mouse” McFadden and the 1985-86 workforce that made a Candy 16 run. This workforce has come a great distance since a 55-point loss to Ohio on Dec. 6. Senior guard Torrey Patton averaged 23.3 factors per recreation within the Horizon League event, and it has been a exceptional run underneath second-year coach Dennis Gates. Cleveland State misplaced a 67-61 nail-biter to Ohio State on Dec. 13. Of the 2-15 matchups, that is the very best guess for an upset.
Scorching on the proper time
Rick Pitino has the Gaels again within the event, and he has a pair of guards in Isaiah Ross (18.4 ppg.) and Asante Gist (13.3 ppg.). If these two can get sizzling from 3-point vary, then Iona can have an opportunity. Iona permits too many free throws per recreation, in order that they should be extra disciplined on protection. Pitino will get the headlines, however there’s substance behind this sleeper. Can they do the unthinkable and pull a 2-15 upset in opposition to Alabama?
Grand Canyon (17-6)
Coach Bryce Drew is aware of a Cinderella story, proper? The Antelopes gained the WAC, and the offense revolves round 7-foot heart Asbjorn Midtgaard, who averages 14.4 factors and 9.9 rebounds per recreation. The Wichita State switch is pivotal to a protection that ranks ninth in Division I in factors allowed. It is a robust out in opposition to Iowa and Luke Garza within the first spherical.
The Bobcats had two COVID-19 pauses, however they gained three MAC event video games by a median of 14.7 factors per recreation. Second-year coach Jeff Boals has this system forward of schedule, and Jason Preston averages 16.6 factors, 7.2 assists and 6.8 rebounds per recreation. He is a type of gamers that might emerge as a Cinderella darling. The Bobcats beat Georgetown in 2010 and made a Candy 16 run in 2012. The Bobcats’ model is an attention-grabbing matchup in opposition to Virginia. The three-pointers should fall.