March Madness: 5 Cinderella Candidates That Can Shock the World in the NCAA Tournament

There’s nothing better than watching a Cinderella make a magical run through the NCAA Tournament. In recent years, Loyola Chicago, Florida Gulf Coast, and VCU are a few teams that have captured America’s heart, and those squads will never be forgotten.

With the 2022 bracket now official, let’s hone in on five teams that could play Cinderella this March Madness.

No. 10 Davidson Wildcats

Davidson is a beautiful basketball team to watch when it has the ball. The Wildcats rank 11th in the country in KenPom‘s adjusted offensive efficiency, and they’re the eighth-best three-point shooting team in college basketball.

Foster Loyer leads the team with 16.6 points per game. He shoots a ridiculous 45% from deep and leads the country in free-throw percentage (93.2%), which is a deadly weapon to have when trying to close out games in March. Oh, and he’s also a senior transfer from Michigan State. Guess who Davidson drew in the first round. I see you, selection committee.

If Loyer can pull off the revenge win against MSU, he can absolutely lead Davidson to an upset over Duke in Round 2. Don’t be surprised if Davidson makes a run in the West region.

No. 11 Virginia Tech

There’s always a team in March Madness that started off the year slow but got hot at the right time. Oregon State was that team last year, as the Beavers snuck in the Big Dance with a Pac-12 tournament championship and rolled all the way to the Elite Eight.

This year’s top contender? Virginia Tech.

The Hokies ripped off a 12-3 run to finish the year, including convincing wins against Notre Dame, North Carolina, and Duke en route to an ACC tournament title. Storm Murphy is one of the best floor generals in the country, and he has NCAA Tournament experience from his time with Wofford.

VT will face a vulnerable Texas team in the first round to set up a potential matchup against Purdue in Round 2.

No. 12 UAB Blazers

Jordan Walker dribbles for UAB.
UAB Blazers guard Jordan Walker dribbles during a game against the UTEP Miners | Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire

If you’ve never watched Jordan “Jelly” Walker play basketball, you’re in for a treat this March. The junior guard pours in 20.4 points per game for UAB, which is good for 14th in the country. He has the greenest of green lights on the offensive end, and he’ll pull up the second he crosses halfcourt if he’s hot.

But as a team, the Blazers rank 46th in KenPom’s adjusted efficiency margin, putting them ahead of Providence, Marquette, Iowa State, and many other tourney teams. Houston is a tough first-round matchup, but UAB has the talent and the swagger to make a deep run.

It’s Jelly time baby.

No. 13 Chattanooga Mocs

Speaking of awesome guards, Chattanooga has one of the best in the country in sophomore Malachi Smith. Smith averaged 20.1 points per game and shoots better than 41% from three, and he can take over a game at any moment.

The Mocs have enough size to match up with Kofi Cockburn and Illinois in the first round, and they might draw UAB in Round 2 in the South region. I’m predicting one of these two teams to reach the Sweet 16.

No. 13 South Dakota State

Do you like offense? Sorry, dumb question. Of course you do. Well, have I got the team for you.

South Dakota State can absolutely fill it up on the offensive end. The Jackrabbits average 86.7 points per game, which is second in the country behind only Gonzaga. They also lead the nation in three-point percentage as a team at 44.9%.

SDSU plays very little defense (220th in adjusted defensive efficiency), but that might not matter if its shooters are in the zone. No. 4 Providence is a prime upset candidate in Round 1, and a second-round matchup against Iowa could reach 200 total points. The Jackrabbits are going to be fun to watch this March.

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