It is the most wonderful time of year in the college basketball world. Many teams are starting to arrive in the Indianapolis bubble to prepare for the tournament. The NCAA decided to hold the entire March Madness tournament in Indianapolis to avoid more travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Teams such as Michigan, Baylor, and Gonzaga have been the favorite all season long. Many other teams hope to prove themselves in the tournament and hope to make a Cinderella run for the title. Here are some underdog teams that fans should watch out for when completing their brackets.
Michigan State Spartans
The Michigan State Spartans have been one of the hottest teams in college basketball. The Spartans squeezed into the field by having a terrific month of February. The Spartans went on a three-game win streak and upset wins over Ohio State, Michigan, and Illinois.
While Coach Tom Izzo is making his 23rd straight tournament appearance with the Spartans, they are in a different spot than in years past. The Spartans will take on the UCLA Bruins on Thursday night in the First Four to get into the tournament. Coach Izzo stated on his teams heading into the tournament, saying, “I can’t think of a team that’s more prepared to play on one-day preps, back-to-back-to-back more than we are…We are battle-tested,” Izzo said. “We have been through it all.” per Paul Fanson of SB Nation MSU. The Spartans are hoping to secure the 11th spot in the East Region with a win against UCLA.
The Georgetown Hoyas made an incredible run in the Big East Tournament to punch their ticket in the tournament. The Hoyas were the 8th seed out of 11 in the Big East Tournament. In order to make the the trip down to Indianapolis, the Hoyas had to win four straight games in the Big East Tournament. Hoyas made a Cinderella run in the Big East Tournament with upset victories over top seeds such as Villanova and Creighton. The Hoyas won all four of their games, and won the Big East Tournament for the first time since 2007.
The Hoyas are returning to the big dance for the first time since 2015, and it will be Head Coach Patrick Ewing’s first time coaching in the tournament. Coach Ewing stated on his teams, “A lot of people discredited. Talked bad about us. We believed in ourselves. We worked hard. We fought hard” per ESPN. The Hoyas are ranked 12th in the East Region and will play in the first round against 5th ranked Colorado on Saturday, March 20.
Wichita State Shockers
Wichita State have been a fan favorite in March Madness for the past few years. The Shocker’s start of the year was not the greatest due to former Head Coach Gregg Marshall’s departure due to physical and verbal abuse. Marshall’s departure caused the program to go under a dark path. Head Coach Issac Brown has cleaned up the program and has brought light to the program again.
The Shockers earned an at-large bid in the big dance by winning the American Athletic Conference regular-season title. On his team heading into the tournament, Coach Brown stated, “”I’m just super excited about the opportunity to play in the NCAA tournament. Our kids have worked very hard since August. Battling COVID, battling guys having to sit out. I felt like we had a good enough year winning the American conference, going on the road beating Ole Miss and just being solid all year. We haven’t had any Quad IV losses. I thought that was huge. The fact that we lost in the semifinals of American, I felt like we had a good chance to get in. (I’m) just super excited for the players, the fans and the community.” per Wichita State Athletics.
The Shockers will have to fight for a spot just like Michigan State and play in the First Four on March 18 against Drake.
March Madness begins with the First Four games on Thursday, March 18. The round of 64 will begin on Friday, March 19.