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Not only is the upcoming NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship a grueling display of some of the best college basketball of the year, it is also a chance to really root for the underdog. And looking for a Cinderella every year is a great way to have fun and cash some bets. Think VCU in 2011 or Butler in 2010 or go back to the improbable run that George Mason had in 2006. Every year brings some great underdog stories and finding the right Cinderella can make for big profits in the early rounds of the tourney.
In 2011 the VCU Rams became only the third ever 11th-seeded team to reach the Final Four. They got there by smoking No. 1 seed Kansas by 10 points in the Southwest regional championship game, 71-61. Only the second "mid-major" to ever advance to a Final Four, Butler came within a bucket from winning the national championship in 2012. Not that far down the seeding chart, the Bulldogs were a fifth-seeded team coming into the tournament. They beat Syracuse, Kansas State and Michigan State in the earlier rounds. Another 11 seed that got into the Final Four was the George Mason Patriots in 2006. The Patriots knocked off heavyweights Michigan State, North Carolina and UConn before losing to Florida in the Final Four. These were all great stories and funto watch, but they also cashed in big for players that rode them through their Cinderella runs.
This year it seems that everybody is in love with St. Marys. And why not? The Gaels are 14-2 in conference play and have a terrific guard in senior Matthew Dellavedova who averages more than 16 points a game. They are project to be an 11 seed. And out of the Ohio Valley Conference take a long look at Belmont, who may bracketologists have in the 12th seed, a very strong position for upsets historically. The Bruins shoot over 40% from the 3-point line and score 77 pints a game. Should they get in, Villanova may also be worth looking at as this year’s potential Cinderella. They have beaten three top 5 teams and find a way to win in bog games. They will be another 10, 11 or 12 seed.
If you look a little further up the seeding and stick in the Big East with Notre Dame. The Fightin Irish are now 23-7 on the season losing just three of their last 10 games in the Big East with the most recent being against Georgetown and on the road at Syracuse. Notre Dame only seems to lose badly to the elite teams. Look for the Irish to get to the Sweet 16. A shocker to us was the early predictions showing UCLA as a 7 seed. The Bruins are currently 2nd in the Pac 12 and are at 22-8 overall. They have faltered a bit down the stretch but were as hot as any team in December through mid January winning 10 straight over that stretch. And, with super freshman Shabazz Muhammad should not be counted out in the early rounds.
So who will be the 2013 March Madness Cinderella? Over the last 5 years, upsets in the early round have gotten more consistent. Look for a couple of teams to get to the sweet 16 that are NOT seeded 1 through 5. Your bankroll will get fat and your bracket will shine by finding Cinderella this year.
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