During last year’s NCAA tournament – as a reminder - every 1, 2, and 3 seed made it to the Sweet-16. Two 4-seeds made it, a 5-seed, and the lowest other seeded team was the PAC-10′s Arizona (12). There were no George Masons last season, but there were some memorable tournament upsets.
Four actually. And they belonged to Cleveland State, Siena, Dayton, and Western Kentucky.
A 2010 update on those upset-minded teams from a year ago is below:
Cleveland State: Last season they beat a Wake Forest team in the first round they didn’t ‘belong on the floor with’ by 15 points, before eventually falling to Arizona. This season, after losing to Valparaiso on the road earlier today (78 – 71) they now sit 7-12 overall and 3-4 in conference. You don’t replace guys like Cedric Jackson, and J’Nathan Bullock overnight however, and in Norris Cole and Jeremy Montgomery they have a couple guards who can play with most anybody. Last week a Horizon League run into the Big Dance seemed possible (then 3-2) but after dropping one to Butler on Friday (64-55), and Valpo today, the Vikings have their work cut out in order to ready themselves for a run towards an automatic berth this time around. Current RPI is 158.
Siena: They beat Ohio State in the first round last season, and being from Cleveland, I can’t say I was pulling for them. PG Ronald Moore hit a game-winning 3-pointer with 3.9 seconds to go to beat the Buckeyes a year ago, and he’s back. Moore – now a senior – is arguably the most productive PG in the country this season. Coming into Saturday, his team is sitting with a record of 13-4 overall and 6-0 in conference, and he is leading the country in assists at 8.7 apg. That mark is up from the 3.7 apg he averaged last season. While CSU is an obvious question to go back to the dance, Siena isn’t – they will most likely be there again. Current RPI is 43.
Dayton: Another team that looks to go back to the tourney is the Dayton Flyers. They beat West Virginia in last year’s first round, and return the co-MVPs from that squad in Junior F Chris Wright, and Senior G Marcus Johnson. Wright is currently averaging 13.8 ppg to go along with 7.5 rpg, and Johnson – a defensive specialist from the same HS as LeBron James - is averaging 7.8 ppg. Despite a loss on Saturday to rival Xavier, the Flyers currently claim a 13-4 record overall with a 2-1 mark in conference. While they will have to carry their solid play all the way through their conference’s regular season, they may not need to win the A-10 tourney to get their dance card punched. Current RPI is 32.
Western Kentucky: Last season WKU’s AJ Slaughter was named the Sunbelt Conference’s Player of the Year for the regular season. In the post season he lead his team to a first round win over Illinois, and this season he is also back. The senior PG is averaging over 16 ppg this season, and has lead his squad to a 10-5 record overall, and 3-1 record in conference following Thursday’s win over Florida Atlantic. The Sunbelt will most likely not get the respect to garner multiple bids come tourney time, so it might behoove Western to go ahead and win the conference tournament to make sure they make it back. Current RPI is 55.
Reference: RPI – NCAA Basketball Data Center:
* – Norris Cole photo credit: LeagueLineup.com
In addition to having media credentials to cover all Cleveland State home games for Midwest Sports Fans, Brendan can also be found talking all things Cleveland Cavaliers at his Cavs blog, Stepien Rules, or on twitter @StepienRules.
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