I don’t know why Cinderella has become the story synonymous with underdogs winning. It was basically about a pretty girl who straight up had access to magical powers getting a right-swipe from a really rich dude in search of arm candy. How were the odds stacked against her again? And why is it inspiring? It’s 2017. Could we not update our sports vernacular?
What about, “VCU has knocked off Kansas! What an absolute Saving Private Ryan story”? Or “The hoody fits! Lehigh completes the 8 Mile!”? I’m just saying, as a whole, we could do better.
Anyway, since the Cinderella term is more widely accepted, I’m going to refer to the following teams as such. Just know I’m not happy about it.
Throwing up threes like they’re expiring pizza coupons, Marquette has all the makings of an upset-the-apple-cart kind of team. The Golden Eagles are the nation’s best from behind the arc, shooting 43-percent from three. When you’re taking on teams that are deeper and more talented, the deep ball is the great equalizer. It’s a big reason they were able to knock off one of the best team’s in the country – Villanova – during the regular season.
They do more than just bomb threes, though. Marquette has great ball movement, ranking 17th in assists. They also have a potent bench, led by Big East Sixth Man of the Year Andrew Rowsey.
If their shots are falling, the Golden Eagles can run any team in this tournament out of the building. This has the look of a double-digit seed who could run to the Sweet 16 or beyond.
Remember these bastards? The ones who shattered half of the nation’s brackets in the first round last year with a shocking upset of Michigan State? Well they’re back, and they’re even better than last season.
Arkansas transfer JaCorey Williams has lifted the team to new heights, winning C-USA Player of the Year while leading the Blue Raiders to their best win percentage of all time. Combined with Giddy Potts and Reggie Upshaw – leaders of last year’s squad – Middle Tennessee has multiple scoring options who can do some damage in the tourney. With an average scoring differential of +11 on the season, they’ve handled their business from start to finish. Of course, after last year, they won’t be sneaking up on anybody this time. But, depending on their first-round match-up, they’re still a good bet to pull at least one upset.
bastards lovable longshots? (I actually picked them to upset no. 2 Georgetown as a 15-seed back in 2013, so I don’t hold a grudge against FGCU.) Whether or not they burned you back in the day, you have to be excited that Dunk City returns to March Madness for the third time in their brief history. The high-flying Eagles breezed through the Atlantic Sun tournament, but they’ll be big underdogs once again in the first round.
Florida Gulf Coast’s numbers are a bit inflated because of the quality of teams they’ve gone up against most of the year, but they do rank fifth in the nation in field-goal percentage. (I guess it is pretty hard to miss dunks the way some of these guys jump.) They also hung tough with Baylor and Michigan State in non-conference play, so Brandon Goodwin and company have shown they belong on the same court as some of the country’s best. Throw in the fact that FGCU is 3-2 in the tournament all-time, and they’re an intriguing possibility for a first-round upset.
Photo credit: Larry Radloff/Icon Sportswire.
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