One of the primary things everyone looks for heading into the NCAA Tournament every year are potential Cinderellas. Everyone loves when good underdog arrives from virtually no where to go on a tear through the field of 68. Unless, of course, you’re a fan of a team that gets taken down by one.
With that being said, here are three teams we think have the potential to run through a team or two during the 2022 NCAA Tournament.
South Dakota State comes into the tournament on a ridiculous 21-game win streak, completely sweeping through the Summit League to take both the regular season and conference tournament titles. Led by Douglas Wilson and Baylor Scheierman, the team has shot a nation-best 59.1 in effective field goal percentage and are ranked 71st in KenPom rankings.
The Jackrabbits absolutely have the ability to take out Providence, who had a bit of luck on its side by posting a 15-2 record in games decided by single-digits. If they can take down the Friars and potentially Iowa in the second-round, they’d stare down a matchup with possibly No. 1 Kansas in the Sweet Sixteen. Given the Jayhawks’ penchant for mid-round exits, they’d have a shot.
No. 10 Davidson (+1.5) vs. No. 7 Michigan State
Davidson came up just short in Sunday’s A-10 Tournament final but still finds itself solidly in the field of 68 with a chance to take down a good, but inconsistent Michigan State team in round one. The Wildcats are ranked 38th in NET and held their own against better competition, going 6-4 against Quad 1 and 2 opponents.
A first-round upset would potentially set up an in-state showdown against Duke in round-two, where they’d have a golden opportunity to be the team that sent Coach K home for good. A win there and they’d be the darlings of the tournament for several people across the nation, with many harkening back to Steph Curry’s dazzling tournament run in the late 2000’s.
No. 7 Murray State (+1) vs. No. 10 San Francisco
Technically, Murray State is right on the edge of being considered a Cinderella as a seven-seed. But let the alma mater of Ja Morant string together a few wins and the nation will be enthralled by the Racers.
Similar to South Dakota State, Murray State quietly swept through the Ohio Valley Conference and enters the tournament on a 20-game winning streak. Ranked 27th in KenPom, they have a Top 40 unit in adjusted efficiency on both offense and defense and could theoretically match up with most opponents. If the KJ Williams-led squad gets past fellow mid-major San Francisco in the first-round, they’d most likely be faced with a monumental in-state matchup against Kentucky. Take down a talented but imperfect Wildcats team in round-two and the sky’s the limit for Murray State.