Share This Article
Who will be the Cinderella story of the 2022 NCAA Tournament? Let’s break down five teams likely to pull off upsets in the Big Dance.
The most fabulous dance of the year is here again.
Ladies and gentlemen, I hope you have your dates to the ball.
You’ve probably started seeing the replays from games of madness past, the historic CBS music begins to cue, and all of us are hoping to watch once again Cinderella crash the ball.
It’s March, the most significant month of college basketball. All across America, sports fans gather around their television, have a split-screen up at work, or are constantly checking their phone in hopes to see the thing we love most, a bracket busting upset.
What is it about the upset that sports fans love so much? I think it’s a direct parallel to the ideology we all fall in love with as Americans.
The feel-good story of a David vs. Goliath. The age-old underdog who wins due to guts, grit, and determination.
The team that comes out of nowhere has all of America holding its breath and then shocks the world.
It’s the reason we love March!
Every year we look for the next Cinderella, and this year I believe it’s not just one, but a few teams are looking to pull off the upset:
1. Providence Friars (24-4)
You may wonder how a team with only four losses is considered a Cinderella team, but Providence has been living the Cinderella story all season.
Not only did they win the first regular-season Big East conference title in school history, but the Friars are one victory away from achieving the first 25-win season since the 1986-87 season. That team made it to the Final Four, led by Coach Rick Pitino and point guard Billy Donovan.
The Friars haven’t received much attention this season as a legitimate title contender, which could be due to the lack of success in recent history. Providence hasn’t made it to the tournament’s second weekend since 1997 (shoutout God Shammgod).
Don’t let the lack of attention fool you; Providence is no easy out and has taken on the rugged and gritty attitude of head coach Ed Cooley.
The team has proven they can win big games after taking down Villanova in arguably one of the best games of the season, plus they are loaded with an upperclassman-heavy roster.
Expect this team to carry the disrespect chip on their shoulder, and it won’t be surprising to see them make a deep tournament run.
2. Marquette Golden Eagles (19-11)
This team seems to be peaking at the right moment. After a non-impressive tenure at Texas, Shaka Smart has Marquette firing on all cylinders.
Routinely known for his programs’ havoc defense, the offense is clicking at the right time, led by forward Justin Lewis, averaging 17.1 PPG and shooting 45% from the field.
After big wins against Illinois, Providence, and beating Villanova twice, I don’t see the stage being too big for Marquette when it’s tourney time.
3. Davidson Wildcats (25-5)
A little over a decade ago, the Davidson Wildcats were must-see TV due to a guy named Steph Curry.
Maybe you’ve heard of him?
That historic 2008 tournament run was where the legend began for the future two-time NBA MVP.
Unfortunately, this year’s Davidson squad isn’t waltzing out a Stephen Curry, but they have juniors Foster Lloyd (16.8 PPG) and Hyunjung Lee (16.5 PPG) leading the way.
This veteran-led team can surely shake things up. With only two losses since early November and a 47% team field goal percentage, the Wildcats are heading into this year’s tournament confident and ready for battle.
4. Wyoming Cowboys (22-7)
Wyoming came out the gate hot this season with a 21-3 start but lost 4 of their last 7 games down the stretch.
Unsure of which Wyoming team will show up come tournament time? It’s pretty simple, how good is the team they will play?
They have a 3-2 record against Quadrant 3 teams, a 5-1 record against Quadrant 2 teams, and four total Quadrant 1 wins. The Cowboys seem to play to the level of their competition, not typically a recipe for success but can work to the advantage of the underdog team.
If guard Hunter Maldonado (18.7 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 6.4 APG) and forward Graham Ike (19.9 PPG and 9.9 RPG) can rally their squad back to early season form, this team will be a tough matchup for anyone.
5. Michigan Wolverines (17-13)
The Wolverines have been in the headlines recently, but it hasn’t been for good things.
After a fight broke out amongst the coaching staff during a game at Wisconsin, most people were writing off the Wolverines.
Former St. Joe’s head coach and current Michigan assistant, Phil Martelli, stepped up and led the Wolverines to a 3-2 record over their last five games with huge wins over Michigan State and hated rival Ohio State.
Coach Howard’s return from suspension combined with Devante Jones finding his rhythm and All-American Hunter Dickinson playing down low make this scrappy Michigan team one coaches will hope to avoid come Selection Sunday.