Monday, November 19, 2012

Cinderella in 2013: November Edition

By Paul Foeller

This is the first of a bimonthly series of articles, with follow-ups and extensions being added in January and March (after Selection Sunday and before the games begin). Each article will focus on two new teams to add to the list of possible "Cinderella" teams.

Creighton Blue Jays

Before I begin analyzing the Blue Jays, I'd like to start by saying that I'm well aware of the fact that they are ranked already — my reason for putting them here is two-fold. Firstly, they're significantly better than even their spot at 15 in the rankings would suggest — perhaps as good as top-10 material. The second, and more important reason, is that regardless of how well they perform this season, they'll almost surely get a four-seed or lower come March.

The selection committee has a horrible habit of heralding big names like Duke, regardless of their comparative record and strength of schedule, while simultaneously short-changing teams like Creighton. So it seems like a given, even four months before the actual seeding is done, that Creighton, who has enough talent to play into the Final Four this year, will be seeded low enough that such an accomplishment would be viewed as an "upset."

For those of you wondering why I'm so confident in Creighton, I'd suggest simply watching them play — because doing so will impress you. They're an extremely well-coached and disciplined team, that plays defense well, shoots well, and can make people look downright silly if they play sloppy defense. Add in the fact that they have superior physicality, and a probable Player of the Year candidate in Doug McDermott, and you have a recipe for an extremely successful season, possibly including four or more wins in the NCAA tournament.

Ohio Bobcats

Depending on who you ask, the Bobcats should already be ranked in the top 25 (they received 6 such votes in the AP poll), but either way, this team has top-25 potential. Even if they never reach the recognition that comes with being ranked, they'll be a force-to-be-reckoned-with by March of next year. It's hard to imagine them being ranked too highly, given their recent history if being ranked much too low, and if this team remains under the selection committee's radar once again, look out.

This team is dangerous for a variety of reasons, and starting with the edge that comes with being disrespected in the polls will only make them that much more dangerous. They play solid, scrappy defense, and are very efficient offensively. The last time I checked, scoring a lot of points and giving up very few was a pretty good way to win games, especially in the MAC.

With the talent on the Bobcats roster, a MAC schedule might produce somewhere between 28-30 wins by Selection Sunday, and a win total that high will give this already dangerous team a taste of winning and invaluable confidence.

Just for good measure, there's only one underclassman, and no freshman on the roster. So now we've got an experienced, confident, talented team that figures to be on a roll come March. I like their chances.

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