With the tournament field set its time to talk Bracket Busters. Who has the potential to be a Cinderella and whose hopes will be dashed. Will this be the year where a 1 seed falls in the opening round? With so much of the season falling on the major programs let’s take a look at the mid-major programs who have some potential to do some damage in March.
Nevada: Nevada is an excellent team and only 1 of 3 mid majors to receive an at-large bid this season. While the Mountain West is considered higher end mid-major, the Wolfpack has the potential to make a run. Nevada has wins over Rhode Island and Davidson and played both TCU and Texas Tech extremely tough. They rank 10th in Offense Efficiency according to KenPom and 105 in Defense. They are a very role-less team where the team plays any position and is comfortable with that as well which can be very difficult for teams to defend.
Rhode Island: The Rams have wins over Seton Hall, Providence, and St. Bonaventure this year and rank 38th defensively. The Rams may struggle at times to score and may have lost 3 of their last 5 games, but with the strong defensive minded team they will be in every game and give their team a chance to win in the end.
St. Bonaventure: The Bonnies have wins this season over Syracuse, Maryland, Rhode Island, and Davidson. They had a stretch of the season where they really struggled but have come back and are playing really well. They rank in the top 100 in both offense and defense on KenPom. They shoot the ball well and score at about a 40% rate from behind the arc while getting to the free throw line still. They can be tricky to defend and will put up a fight and will be a tough out for anyone.
Davidson: The Surprise team of the A-10 has been very hot of late. The Wildcats have won 11 of their last 13 games only losing to Rhode Island and St. Bonaventure in that stretch. They also finished the season beating Rhode Island twice and taking down St. Bonaventure. Davidson has found their groove and are playing extremely well. The Wildcats are a top 20 offense and have not given up more than 70 points in their last 4 games. If they can continue the tough defense and still play at the high level they can on the offensive end they will be very difficult to compete with.
New Mexico State: The Aggie’s have a neutral court victory over Miami. they are a very well coached team tat ranks 14th on the defensive end and only allow teams to shoot 30%from the 3-point line. Defense will be the key for the team to make some noise in the Big Dance but they have the capability to make a run to the sweet 16 .
Loyola (Chicago): When the Ramblers wen into Gainsville on December 6th no one expected them to leave with a victory. Loyola walked out with a 65-59 win. This team means business and ranks 24th for defense and 68 offensively. Loyola is on a 10 game winning streak and looks to continue that run as the tournament begins. They are a well experienced team and have a lot of motivation to make a run.
San Diego State: Another team that has got hot at the right time, the Aztecs are on a 9 game winning streak and have a win over Gonzaga early in the season. They are top 70 in both offense and defense and have 2 wins over Nevada. The Aztecs have been clicking on all cylinders and can make some noise if that rolls over to NCAA tournament play.
South Dakota State: With Mike Daum as the nations 6th leading scorer averaging 23.8 ppg the Jackrabbits have a shot. The team ranks 41st on the offensive side and will look to outscore opponents as their defense is not as strong. Mike Daum can carry the team but also will need some help if they look to move on in the dance.
Murray State: Jonathan Stark averages 21.8 ppg and the team ranks in the top 100 for both offense and defense. It will take a strong outing for them to continue to move on but they are most definitely capable of it as they look to extend their 13 game winning streak.
Buffalo: The Bulls rank in the top 50 offensively and can really challenge their opponent on a good night. They have 4 players that average in double figures and can will shoot the ball quickly and get lots of shots. If the Bulls can control the pace they have a shot at taking over the game and making a move.
UNC Greensboro: Greensboro can make something happen with their defense. They rank in the top 30 and only allow opponents to shoot 32% from behind the arc. The Spartans did win at North Carolina State but will have to find some offense if the want to make a run through the bracket.