The best part of the NCAA Tournament every single year are the one or two teams that surprise everyone and make it to the second weekend. These squads, usually double-digit seeds from lower conferences who knock off at least one blue blood program, always captivate hoops fans with a run to the Sweet 16 and beyond.
This year, the prevailing narrative around college hoops has been that there are no truly elite teams. Whether or not that is true, it does mean that the door is open for some potential Cinderellas to emerge and make a run, much to the chagrin of teams with low numbers next to their names.
Which teams are in the best position to get the job done this year? We looked at the double-digit seeds and tried to find out.
Davidson (12-seed, South)
None of the teams that we’re classifying as a potential sleeper have a tougher path than Davidson, but with how good the Wildcats are at slowing things down and hitting shots, they can have a chance against any team. Davidson marched through the Atlantic 10 to win its conference tournament and secure a bid, and hardly look like a team that will be an easy out.
The Wildcats are 43rd in KenPom with the 18th-best team in adjusted offensive efficiency. The thing that makes Davidson so good is its ability to hit shots from all over the floor — the team is in the top-30 of free throw percentage (79.7 percent, fourth nationally), two-point field goal percentage (56.8 percent, ninth), and three-point field goal percentage (39.1 percent, 27th). Senior forward Peyton Aldridge is a star, averaging 21.8 points and 7.8 rebounds per game, while freshman guard Kellan Grady is a future superstar, going for 18.1 points a night in his first year in college.
The downside is Davidson drew Kentucky in the 5-12 game, and should it win, it likely has a date with Deandre Ayton and the Arizona Wildcats in round two. Davidson could be bounced immediately, but if its shots are falling, it has the potential to slay a few giants.