Sixteen Teams are going to the Big Dance this weekend: Northern Iowa, Michigan State, Tennessee, Ohio State, Syracuse, Butler, Xavier, Kansas State, Kentucky, Cornell, Washington, West Virginia, Duke, Purdue, Baylor, and St. Mary’s. Syracuse, Xavier, Cornell, and Washington were eliminated yesterday. Today we will eliminate four more teams. The remaining “Elite Eight” will be whittled down to 4 teams for the “Final Four” playoffs next weekend.
Four possible Cinderella Teams have emerged: Northern Iowa, Cornell, Washington, and St. Mary’s. Cornell and Washington have already been eliminated leaving Northern Iowa and St. Mary’s.
Cinderella Team #1 is the Northern Iowa Panthers. Northern Iowa beat Kansas in the first round wrecking my bracket and many others. What a shake up! The University of Northern Iowa has never played in the Sweet Sixteen before. They have excellent defense this year and guard Ali Farokhmanesh has become a star this week after scoring the winning 3 points last week. Northern Iowa is favored to win over Michigan State tonight for their next dance in the Elite Eight.
Cinderella Team #2 is St. Mary’s of California. This is St. Mary’s first trip to the Sweet Sixteen too. The St. Mary’s Gaels (knight or warrior) are a cool, confident team who seem to get better every game. One of their best players is Omar Samran. The Gaels also have 5 Australians on their roster. The Australians add to the team’s confidence. They are not intimidated by the bigger and better teams in the NCAA. St. Mary’s will be playing Baylor, who is favored to win, this afternoon for a spot in the Elite Eight.
It is exciting and full of surprises. Everybody loves the underdog but only time will tell who is going to be wearing the glass slipper this year.!