The Gophers will not be participating in the NCAA Tournament this March. But the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament is the best weekend of the calendar year (this is fact, not an opinion). Dozens of college basketball games with teams and players trying to make themselves a household name, even if for just the weekend. Small schools from smaller conferences get their shot at knocking off schools with more established basketball pedigrees. This is going to be a series where we take a look at 24 conferences and the schools most likely to represent them in the NCAA Tournament. Consider this early bracket research to find that Cinderella team that busts everyone’s bracket...except yours.
Last Year’s NCAA Participant: (14) Kent State
Prior Years Upset Team: The MAC can provide some excitement when it comes to cinderellas and has a few upsets to its name. Ohio went to an unlikely Sweet Sixteen in 2012 as a 13-seed and won a game 2010 as a 14-seed.
KenPom Rank: 78
Off Efficiency: 114. (42)
Def Efficiency: 104.6 (154)
eFG%: 54.9% (29)
Why are they dangerous: The Bulls are the undisputed top team in the MAC, led by two of the conference’s top players in CJ Massinburg and Nick Perkins. Massinburg, a junior guard, is averaging more than 17ppg and pulling down more than 7 rpg, while Perkins is putting up 16 and 6. Both are in their third year in the program and providing great veteran leadership.
KenPom Rank: 114
Off Efficiency: 114.3 (39)
Def Efficiency: 109.7 (261)
eFG%: 55.7% (20)
Why are they dangerous: The Rockets exorcised their demons against Eastern Michigan on Friday night, finally overcoming the Eagles after losing both matchups during the regular season. The Rockets are the number two seed in the tournament, led by senior guard Tre’Shaun Fletcher, who is arguably the best player in the conference. Fletcher transferred from Colorado and made a huge leap, averaging 18 points, eight rebounds and four assists per game.
NCAA Tournament Outlook
The Bulls are the conference’s best chance at pulling at upset in the first round of the tournament, and would be a sneaky pick to pull a victory as a 12-seed. With veteran leadership, including their high scoring duo, they could have a real chance at making some noise.