Going into March Madness, fans and pundits alike clamor ceaselessly for upsets in the hopes that this year’s tournament will be more chaotic than what was witnessed last year. However, when it finally comes time to sit down and watch the games unfold, it can be difficult to root for the underdog when you safely picked all of the notable programs to make it to the Final Four. Still, March Madness is as tortuously anxiety-inducing as it is infinitely entertaining and exhilarating as every day offers something completely unexpected in terms of the end results. Although the 14th seeds do not traditionally dethrone their higher-ranked counterparts, these programs have actually been more successful in recent years. While it may be extremely risky to select one of the following programs to make it to the second round, it is worth bearing in mind that each of these teams has the potential to shock the world depending on who they are matched up with come the NCAA Tournament.
1. Rider Broncos
One of the worst teams in college basketball when it comes to playing defense (78 PAPG), the Broncos have been able to remain highly competitive thanks to a prolific offense (82.6 PPG) that is continually assisted by their aggressive rebounding prowess (39.6 RPG). If the Riders truly have aspirations of making it past the first round of the NCAA Tournament, they need to work on reducing their turnover rate (13 TPG) and become more tenacious when it comes to taking the basketball away from their opponent (eight SPG).
1. Charleston Cougars
Although this program may not be the most efficient or consistent program when it comes to scoring the basketball, they are particularly adept at not turning the ball over (10 TPG), which will be vital in them keeping up with their respective opponent in the tournament. If the Cougars can hit their shots from the free throw line consistently (75.8 FT%), they could very well pull off a shocking upset down the stretch of their respective matchup.
1. UNC Greensboro Spartans
Allowing just 63.3 points per game, the Spartans are at their best when they are able to control the pace of play while garnering the majority of the rebounds in a given contest (36.9 RPG). Although the Spartans turnover rate is a bit concerning (14 TPG), their ability to consistently take the ball away from the opposition (eight SPG) could allow them to overcome their tournament opponent in spite of their ball security issues.
1. Murray State Racers
While they may not be dominant in any one facet of their game, the Racers have the advantage of being competitively versatile on both offense (79.6 PPG) and defense (66.1 PAPG). Considering they hit 48.9% of their shots from the field and are impressively accurate from the free throw line (73.4 FT%), the Racers are efficient and productive enough to potentially pull off a tremendous upset in the NCAA Tournament.