Ja Morant

5 Sleeper Teams for 2019 NCAA March Madness Tournament

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Last year's NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament saw no shortage of Cinderella stories. From the University of Maryland at Baltimore County (UMBC) Retrievers making tournament history, becoming the first No. 16 seed to beat a No. 1 seed, to a Final Four featuring the Loyola-Chicago Ramblers, just the fourth No. 11 seed in NCAA tournament history to earn a Final Four berth.


This year's version of March Madness should include more of the same. With that in mind, here are five potential Cinderellas to keep an eye on as you fill out your tournament bracket.

5. No. 15 Montana Grizzlies – West Region

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The Montana Grizzlies not only won the regular-season Big Sky Conference title, but also swept their way to earning an automatic bid in the conference tournament. The Grizzlies will be making their second straight NCAA tournament appearance and it's also their second straight matchup with the Michigan Wolverines. After a 61-47 loss in last year's tournament as a No. 14 seed, this year Montana is a dangerous No. 15 seed. The Grizzlies are top 20 in the nation in 3-point field goal percentage, shooting 38.3 percent, and have been trending slightly upward at 39.7 percent in their last three contests. The Grizzlies' 3-point prowess could propel them to an upset win over No. 2-seeded Michigan on Thursday night.

4. No. 14 Yale Bulldogs – East Region

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The Yale Bulldogs are a name you'll likely hear a lot in the next few days leading up to their contest with the East Region No. 3 seed LSU Tigers. And the main reason is this team can really shoot. Yale averages 80.9 points per game (PPG) this season and has one of the most efficient offensives in the nation, ranking fifth in the country in shooting percentage at 49.6 percent. The Bulldogs just scored 97 points, knocking off Harvard in the Ivy League Tournament for an automatic bid, and that hot shooting could continue into March Madness.

3. No. 12 Murray State Racers – West Region

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Oh the infamous 12 vs. 5 matchup. The Murray State Racers won the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament and are led by Ja Morant, who is in the conversation for the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. That kind of star power could propel the Racers to an upset win or two, a la Kemba Walker at UConn in 2011, or Dwyane Wade and the Marquette Golden Eagles in 2003 (not that I'm saying Murray State will make the Final Four or Finals). And, ironically, Murray State takes on Wade's alma mater, the No. 5-seeded Marquette, on Thursday in Hartford, CT.

2. No. 7 Wofford Terriers – Midwest Region

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Wofford closed out the season with a 29-4 record and were ranked No. 20 in the most recent AP Top 25. The Terriers had one of the toughest schedules in the NCAA, playing tournament teams like the UNC Tar Heels, Kansas Jayhawks and Mississippi State Bulldogs, to name a few. They have what it takes to get past the Seton Hall Pirates in the first round, and a potential second-round matchup with the Houston Cougars could favor Wofford as well. Wofford's ability to hit 3-pointers is what makes it so dangerous, averaging 41.6 percent from 3-point land, second in the nation behind only the Lehigh Mountain Hawks. It also shoots 48.8 percent from the field overall, good for No. 11 in the country. The Terriers can beat anyone on any given night as long as their 3-pointers are falling, and that seemed to happen pretty often this season.

1. No. 6 Buffalo Bulls – West Region

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It's hard to consider the Buffalo Bulls a Cinderella team, as they were ranked No. 18 in the AP Top 25 at season's end and were ranked for much of the season. However, Buffalo coming in as a No. 6 seed gives us the leeway to do so. If the Bulls advance as a favorite over the Arizona State Sun Devils or St. John's Red Storm, whichever No. 11 seed wins the play-in game, and play the No. 3 seed Texas Tech Red Raiders in the Round of 32, a run to the Sweet 16 or Elite 8 isn't out of the question. The Bulls were top five in scoring this season, averaging 84.8 PPG, so they certainly have the firepower to make a run.

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