Bracket Busters to look for

NCAA mid-major teams to look out for when filling out your bracket in March.

Bracket Busters to look for

Every year a large portion of the brackets filled out are absolutely destroyed by teams that no one has ever heard of. The NCAA Tournament makes sure that each conference has a representative in the big dance. For most of these Mid-Major conferences, they are represented by the champion of the conference tournament. However, the regular season conference play gives a pretty good indicator of which Mid-Major teams college basketball fans will be seeing in March.

America loves an underdog and these are some of the teams that could be underdogs in the NCAA Tournament.

Arkansas- Little Rock Trojans: 19-2  (9-1 Sun Belt)

They started off 10-0 before there first loss to Texas Tech and were one of the last remaining unbeaten teams. Some of their best wins came against San Diego St. and Tulsa. The key to the Trojans success has without a doubt be their stout defense. They have given up the least amount of points to opponents in the NCAA (58.3 OPPG). Click here to see a highlight video of the Trojans’ win over DePaul.

St. Mary’s Gaels: 18-2 (9-1 West Coast)

St. Mary’s is usually a perennial competitor and always puts on a show in the tournament. They’ve definitely busted a few brackets in the past. This season they’ve notched some solid wins against Stanford, BYU and Gonzaga. They’re success, much like Arkansas-Little Rock’s has come mostly because of their dominance on the defensive end on the floor. They rank second in points allowed (59.6 OPPG) only behind UALR.

Monmouth Hawks: 18-5 (10-2 MAAC)

Monmouth has put together quite a resume thus far. Their biggest wins iclude Notre Dame, UCLA and Georgetown. The Hawks are lead by junior guard Justin Robinson. He leads the team in points per game(20.8), assists per game (3.6) and steals per game (2.1).

While Robinson and many other players dazzle on the court, some of Monmouth’s best highlights are the players not in the game. The bench always has entertaining celebrations for when one of their teammates makes a great play. A video can be seen here of some of Monmouth’s best bench celebrations

Dayton Flyers (18-3, 8-1 Atlantic 10) & VCU Rams (17-5, 8-0 Atlantic 10)

The Atlantic 10 is accustomed to having multiple teams in the big dance and this year they have at least two with some real potential to ruin a ton of brackets.

First off, Dayton. They have put together some of the most impressive wins of any team mentioned in this article This season they have taken down Iowa, Monmouth and Vanderbilt. Once again a great defense team makes the list. The Flyers rank 18th in points allowed (63.5) and have found themselves a spot in this week’s AP top 25 (24).

While Dayton has proven to be a solid team, the Rams of VCU will prove to be a great challenge within the conference.

VCU is definitely on of the hottest teams in college basketball. Since a loss to Cincinnati, they have won 12 in a row, dominating in conference play. This is great for them because they really don’t have that marquee win.

These two teams will face off March fifth in Dayton, possibly for the Atlantic 10 Regular Season Title.

San Diego State Aztecs: 17-6 (10-0 Mountain West)

They are another perennial competitor in March Madness. The Aztecs have made the tournament every year since 2010 and they have advanced four times. Again a strong representative from a conference that usually has multiple qualifying teams. This season their best win was against California and they have still yet to have been defeated within their conference. They, like most teams on this list, ride their defense to victory as they rank third in opponent’s points per game. (59.8)

Some highlights of their win against Cal can be seen here.

Wichita State Shockers: 17-5 (11-0 Missouri Valley)

And finally, one of the best bracket busters ever, the Wichita State Shockers. They have made the tournament every year since 2012 and reached the final four as a nine seed in 2013. They also fit right in with the defensive theme of this list as they rank ninth in opponent’s points per game. (61.7) The Shockers also made an appearance in this week’s AP Top 25 (21).

For a reminder of how bad Wichita State can ruin a bracket here are the highlights from their upset over number two seed Kansas during last year’s tournament.

Other Sleeper Teams:

Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks: 15-5 (8-0 Southland)

Stony Brook Seawolves: 18-4  (8-0 America East)

Evansville Purple Aces & Southern Illinois Salukis: 18-6 (7-4 Missouri Valley)

UAB Blazers: 19-4 (9-1 Conference USA)

Chattanooga Mocs: 20-3 (9-1 Southern)

So when you’re filling out your bracket in March, make sure you keep your eyes on these teams and look like a genius when one of them pulls off an upset.