Thursday, July 31, 2014

10 double-digit seeds who could do damage in the Big Dance (10 items)

By , For the Deseret News

March 19, 2014

Every year the NCAA tournament has its share of Cinderella teams. Just last year, eight double-digit seeds advanced to the third round and three all the way to the Sweet 16.

These are generally teams from smaller conferences who have something to prove to the big boys of college basketball. They may also be high-profile programs who had a down year but managed to get an at-large berth anyway. Here are 10 schools that fall into one of those categories that have the talent to make some noise in the Big Dance.

Obviously these schools aren't locks to win games since they are considered underdogs, but they all have more than enough talent to make a run if the ball bounces their way.

BYU would surely make this list if not for the loss of Kyle Collinsworth, who is out for the season. As it is, the Cougars are still capable of winning but have less of a chance without one of their best players.

1 of 10. Stephen F. Austin, No. 12 seed

After losing three of their first five games of the season, the Lumberjacks have won 28 straight games, leaving them with a record of 31-2 on the year. They are very balanced offensively, with five players scoring at least 9.6 points a game. The Lumberjacks really know how to distribute the ball as well. They are eighth in the nation in assists per game. If Desmond Heymon and Jacob Parker can get it going, VCU will have its hands full with the regular season and tournament champs from the Southland Conference.

2 of 10. Harvard, No. 12 seed

The Crimson lost a total of four games all year and two of them came outside of the conference to tournament teams. They won the Ivy League by four games after going 13-1. Harvard has five players who score in double figures, led by junior Wesley Saunders and sophomore Siyani Chambers. Both can score the ball, facilitate the offense and play aggressive defense. The thing that should make the Bearcats of Cincinnati most nervous is the fact that Harvard is tournament tested. As a No. 14 seed in 2013, the Crimson beat Mountain West Conference powerhouse New Mexico to advance to the third round.

3 of 10. Providence, No. 11 seed

The Friars got hot at the right time and won three straight games to win the Big East tournament title. In the championship game they knocked off the highly ranked Creighton. Providence is led by one of the best guards in the country in senior Bryce Cotton. Cotton has played nearly every minute this season and can do it all. He averages 21.4 points, 3.5 rebounds and 5.8 assists a game. If North Carolina can't contain him, then the Friars will be tough to beat.

4 of 10. Saint Joseph's, No. 10 seed

The Hawks are as battle-tested as they come after fighting through a very difficult Atlantic 10 this season. They have won nine of their last 11 games, including a pair of wins against Dayton and VCU, who are both in the tournament. Saint Joseph's is led in scoring by senior guard Langston Galloway, who averages 17.5 points a night on 43.9 percent shooting from behind the arc. If the Connecticut Huskies give him an inch, Galloway will surely take advantage. Another piece of the Hawks puzzle the Huskies need to worry about is senior big man Halil Kanacevic. Kanacevic is a solid scorer and a monster on the glass. To top it off, he led the Hawks in assists at 4.4 a game. Kanacevic isn't alone down low, either. Ronald Roberts Jr. is a talented scorer and a really good rebounder. He averages 14.4 points a game on 59.8 percent shooting from the field to go along with 7.4 rebounds.

5 of 10. Arizona State, 10-seed

The Sun Devils have the ultimate inside-out combination with Jahii Carson and Jordan Bachynski. Carson is an ultra-quick point guard who loves to get to the paint and draw fouls or create scoring opportunities for his teammates. Carson is averaging 18.6 points, four rebounds and 4.5 assists a game. When he's dishing the ball, chances are it's going to Jordan Bachynski for an easy layup or to guard Jermaine Marshall. Marshall is an effective outside shooter and scorer who averages 15 points a night on 40 percent shooting from 3-point range. When Marshall is cold, the Sun Devils struggle, but when he is hitting, they are hard to beat. Bachynski is a solid post presence on offense but does most of his damage on the defensive end, where he blocks 4.1 shots a game. The Texas Longhorns will definitely have their work cut out for them against the Sun Devils.