Searching for Cinderella

Clark Kellogg
Yahoo! Sports

Of the teams that have already secured spots in the field of 65, and of those that appear to be in good shape to do so, let me direct you to a few schools to put the isolated camera on.

Please understand that, while I am immersed in college hoops, there are still some tapes I have to review between now and the tournament's start. And no matter how many times someone refers to me as an expert on college hoops, I know there's plenty I don't know. So this is just an appetizer list of teams that I've seen that you shouldn't sleep on.

Louisiana Lafayette (Sun Belt Conference)
The Ragin' Cajuns will be a spicy opponent for whoever they face in the tournament. With four big, athletic guards who can all score, they will be a very hard matchup.

Tiras Wade is the most potent of the four. The junior averages 20.4 points per game, has a sweet stroke and can get to the rim. Orien Greene, Brian Hamilton and Dwayne Mitchell all average double digits, too. Wade and Hamilton are both 6 feet 6 inches tall, while Greene and Mitchell are 6 feet 4 inches.

The other starter, Chris Cameron, stands 6 feet 11 inches and is a very capable 3-point shooter. Turnovers have been a problem, but if this team squeezes the orange and idles down just a notch, a first-round upset is possible.

Old Dominion (Colonial Athletic Association)
This team has a very potent 1-2 scoring punch in Alex Loughton and Isaiah Hunter. While their scoring averages are modest (13.9 and 13.4, respectively), both are capable of putting up big numbers. Loughton works effectively inside and Hunter is a streaky but dangerous 3-point shooter.

The Monarchs play solid defense and take good care of the ball (just 12 turnovers per game). In point guard Drew Williamson, they have a quarterback who does a solid job at both ends.

Florida (Southeastern Conference)
Even though the Gators have been a bit of a disappointment in the NCAA tournament lately – and even with six freshmen and sophomores in the playing rotation – I've seen a grit in this team that was lacking the last couple of years. There's been an improved effort on defense and more consistent play from the big three – Anthony Roberson, Matt Walsh and David Lee. Freshman Al Horford has really helped with his presence inside, too. The 53-52 win over Kentucky last week could be the foundation for a good tournament showing.

Creighton (Missouri Valley Conference)
I know Southern Illinois gets a lot of love in the MVC, and deservedly so. But I expect the Bluejays to be a tough tournament out, too.

While lacking in size and having trouble on the glass all season, Creighton has been able to win games by using multiple pressing defenses and making the 3-point shot. Nate Funk is an outstanding all-around player and leads the team in scoring (17.6), but point guard Tyler McKinney may be the team's most indispensable player. A nine-man playing rotation requires that everybody else chips in, and they usually do.

Niagara (Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference)
The Purple Eagles are one of the nation's highest-scoring teams, averaging 85.2 points a game. Three seniors carry the scoring load – Juan Mendez, David Brooks and Alvin Cruz – and they combine to average 54 points a game. Niagara enjoys a fast pace on offense and employs an active 2-3 zone on defense.

The Purple Eagles enter the tournament as one of the more heartwarming stories. The appearance will be Niagara's first in 35 years. Also, head coach Joe Mihalich's mom is battling terminal cancer and wasn't supposed to live long enough to see her son's team make it to the tournament. She was courtside when Niagara clinched a spot in the field on Monday. That emotional lift could add more fuel to Niagara's versatile and high-powered attack.

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