Early 2023 NCAA Tournament Cinderella Watch: Which mid-level team will win the most games in March Madness?

At this point a year ago, St. Peter’s had a 5-6 record and ranked 228th in the net. Little did we know that the Peacocks were about to start one of the most iconic runs in college basketball history. There were other, more accomplished mid-major teams that made it to the NCAA Tournament last season, but it was Saint Peter’s who went even further.

The Peacocks made it to the Elite Eight as the No. 15 seed and were the only midway team to make it to the Sweet 16 (no, Gonzaga does not count). Although the Peacock season ended with a 69-49 loss to the North Carolina In the Eastern Regional Final, St. Peter’s Race showcased what we love about Big Dance.

If you’re looking for a mid-level team to tour, the safest bet is the fifth seed St. Mary’sNo. 7 seeds Murray StateNo. 8 stubs San Diego State Or any number of programs with more reins than St. Peter’s. But in the end, I got over the peacock KentuckyMurray State and Bordeaux On their way into the history books as the 15th longest No. 1 in tournament history.

While we may not see such a great run again for many years, there are several mid-major teams in college basketball again this season. For this week’s edition of Dribble Handoff, our writers pick the mid-major they think has the most potential to win multiple Games in the 2023 NCAA Tournament.

Saint Mary’s (16-4)

Giles lost scorers Tommy Kohsi and Matthias Tass from last season’s squad, which earned a No. 5 seed in the NCAA tournament and reached the second round. Not surprisingly, famous coach Randy Bennett quickly reorganized it into another stellar team. Surprisingly, though, St. Mary’s might have really improved after such human losses, and it wouldn’t be shocking to see this team make it to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament.

Saint Mary’s was No. 8 on the grid and No. 8 on the grid KenPom.com As of Tuesday he is on his way to a No. 6 seed in the NCAA Tournament, according to CBS Sports Brackets science Jerry Palm expert. Arguably the biggest factor in the Gaels’ resilience is the play of new guard Aidan Mahaney. Mahaney was named a top 150 prospect in the country by 247Sports, but Mahaney has become playing out of his mind. in wins Loyola Marymount And San Francisco Last week, he scored 21 and 25 while making 18 of 35 shots from the field. Since entering the starting lineup in early December, he has scored 16.9 points per game on 52.5% shooting, including 46.4% from 3-point range.

This team is 10-1 since Mahaney entered the starting lineup, and its four losses this season total 15 points. When I lost St. Mary’s University of California In the second round of last season’s Big Dance, the Bruins couldn’t miss it. But the Gaels have a solid defense again this season, and with some better luck, they’ll make the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2010. – David Cobb

FAU (17-1)

Going into the 2022-23 season, FAU head coach Dusty May has a 66-56 record in four (most) forgettable seasons. Three of those four seasons ended in winning records, but not many, and being a Conference USA contender was rarely even in the conversation. May and FAU captured lightning in a bottle this season, though, in one of the sport’s best and most controversial stories. The Owls are blazing their way to fitness behind a 17-1 start that put them in the top 25 in the AP Mondays for the first time in program history.

No other team has such an impeccable record of C-USA play—in fact, no team has lost fewer than two games—making FAU the current favorite to win the league as it does now. This would be C-USA’s first title and second regular season conference championship in program history for the Owls

The 17-1 record is no mirage, either. Libra loves fau. It’s No. 13 (!) In NCAA net standingsNo. 35 on KenPom and No. 34 on BartTorvik.com. This team has the commodities to make the round and make noise while it’s at it. – Kyle Boone

Based on CBS Sports’ Top 25 & 1 on Tuesday mornings, My first answer to that question would be Florida Atlantic, which got me into the daily rankings a full seven days before the Owls entered the Associated Press Top 25 poll for the first time ever on Monday. My second answer would be Saint Mary’s. But Cobb understandably took the ghoul, and Boone understandably took the owls. So I’ll move on to my third choice – Boise State.

Broncos Leon Rice are good again despite losing four of their top six scorers from last season’s team – among them leading scorer Abu Kaghab and third scorer Emmanuel Akot, the latter of whom moved to Western Kentucky, as he is unlikely to make the 2023 NCAA Tournament given that the Hilltoppers are 3-4 in C-USA and 160th in the NET. However, Akot’s former classmates are doing well. After faltering right out of the gates and losing two of their first three games, Boise State won 13 of their 15 games and scored as high as 20th in NET and 27th in KenPom.com. Broncos beat Colorado The team that won Tennesseethe Texas A&M 4-0 team in the SEC, the Saint Louis The defeated team Providence And Memphisand the Utah A team that is also in KenPom’s top 50 teams.

Is it the best resume in the world?

of course not.

But it’s a good enough resume that CBS Sports Bracketology expert Jerry Palm is currently pitching the Broncos as the #10 seed in the NCAA Tournament. If they avoid more bad overtime losses, add in some Q1 wins and win their second straight Mountain West title, this prospective seed will obviously improve — perhaps to something like a No. 5 seed or a No. 6 seed. If that’s the case, the Broncos will have a path. Realistic to the Sweet 16, which would be amazing considering the program is still chasing its first NCAA Tournament win despite making the Big Dance eight previous times between 1976 and last season. – Gary Parish

Flashbacks from earlier this season. Gonzaga had just been defeated Xavier At PK85 and I was talking to Mark Few about his relief at going 2-1 in the event. Few would explain why this was the hardest non-conference schedule he had ever put together, and after listing all the major programs on the list, he delivered something to the effect of, “By the way, I also got the Kent State game in a week and that would be a nightmare.”

Few know what he said. The Golden Flashers led Gonzaga for much of that game, eventually falling 73-66. In fact, Kent State has only lost three times this season against teams that go 52-5 overall: Gonzaga, Charleston And Houston. Against Charleston, on the road, Kent State fell by two. In Houston, arguably the best team in college basketball, Rob Sindorf’s team lost by just five players. And then she almost stole the match against Gonzaga.

The Golden Flashes are the best team in the MAC, and the reason they picked this week’s question: point play protection and defense. Kent State ranks in the top 20 nationally in defensive efficiency. That will come in March. She also has Sincere Carry, who averages 17 points and five assists per night and is arguably a top 10 guard in college hoops. Sendrov has been quietly getting it done at Kent State since he arrived there in 2011. He’s never had a team this good. The Cinderella filter is applicable here, which is not new to this school. Remember 2002? Matt Norlander

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