March Madness Underdogs to Root For

They may not win your bracket contest, but they're fun teams

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 12, 2012 7:56 AM CDT

(Newser) – It's that time of year again. Time to fill out a bracket and form deep opinions about dozens of college basketball teams you've barely heard of. Yes, March Madness is upon us (you can download a bracket here), and that means it's time to look for sleepers and potential Cinderellas. Time suggests some underdogs unlikely to win it all, but guaranteed to be fun to root for:

  • St. Bonaventure University: It's a tiny school (2,000 undergrads) with big-time talent; center Andrew Nicholson is a legitimate NBA prospect, even though the physics major only started playing basketball as a high school junior.

  • Loyola University: Coach Jimmy Patsos is an ex-bartender who, in the MAAC title game, yelled at a spectator, chased his players up and down the court, and "generally appeared maniacal." Imagine what he'll do if they beat No. 2 Ohio State on Thursday.
  • South Dakota State: The Jackrabbits are the first team in state history to make the Big Dance, guard Nate Wolters is ninth in the nation in scoring, and did we mention they're called the Jackrabbits?
  • Belmont: Stats geeks love Belmont, which has won the Atlantic Sun conference five of the last seven years, but never pulled off that promised NCAA Tournament upset. Is this the year?
Of course, when it comes to who'll actually win, Kentucky is the runaway favorite among ESPN Tournament Challenge players, followed by North Carolina, with both teams making the final four in more than half of all brackets. And if you want sleepers who might actually win, check out this Bleacher Report slideshow.

Belmont guard Kerron Johnson drives past Florida Gulf Coast guard Sherwood Brown during the second half of the Atlantic Sun Conference Championship game, Saturday.   (AP Photo/Jason Vorhees)
St. Bonaventure's DaQuan Cook takes a shot during the second half of a game against Xavier in the Atlantic 10 men's tournament in Atlantic City, NJ, March 11, 2012.   (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
St. Bonaventure's Charlon Kloof (3), of Suriname, takes a shot during the second half of a game against Xavier in the Atlantic 10 men's tournament in Atlantic City, NJ, Sunday.   (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
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