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Posted: Monday March 16, 2009 6:47PM; Updated: Thursday March 19, 2009 12:35AM
Bill Trocchi Bill Trocchi >
INSIDE COLLEGE BASKETBALL

Looking for a Cinderella? Breaking down the mid-majors

Story Highlights

North Dakota State comes into the tournament in its first year of eligibility

Todd Bozeman heads back to the NCAA for the first time since he left Cal

Other Cinderella candidates include Gonzaga, Cleveland State and more

West Region

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Could Adam Koch and Northern Iowa be this season's Cinderella squad?
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NCAA Tournament
 
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Unforgettable Cinderella teams

NCAA tournament through the years
 

Northern Iowa Panthers
Seed: No. 12
Record: 22-10 (14-4 Missouri Valley)
NCAA bid: Automatic
RPI: 59
Coach: Ben Jacobson (Third year at Northern Iowa, first NCAA tournament)
Best player: Adam Koch. The junior forward was first-team All-MVC and leads the Panthers in scoring at 12.1 points. He also shoots 77 percent from the line and was 23-for-23 at the line over one two-game stretch.
Key stat: Northern Iowa committed 10 turnovers or fewer in 16 games, including all three MVC tournament wins
Notable games: beat Auburn, lost to Iowa St., lost at Iowa, lost at Siena
Record in last 12 games: 8-4
Last NCAA appearance: 2006, as No. 10 seed, lost to Georgetown 54-49 in first round

Cornell Big Red
Seed: No. 14
Record: 20-9 (11-3 Ivy)
NCAA bid: Automatic
RPI: 115
Coach: Steve Donahue (Ninth year at Cornell, second NCAA tournament)
Best player: Ryan Wittman. The son of former NBA player and coach Randy Wittman, Ryan is favored to win Ivy Player of the Year after averaging 18.5 points and 3.6 rebounds. Wittman scored 33 at Syracuse and shot 41.9 percent from three.
Key stat: The Big Red are third in the nation in three-point field goal percentage, hitting 41.5 percent from beyond the arc.
Notable games: Lost at Siena, lost at Indiana, lost at Syracuse, lost at Minnesota
Record in last 12 games: 9-3
Last NCAA appearance: 2008, as a No. 14 seed, lost to Stanford 77-53 in first round

Cal State Northridge Matadors
Seed: No. 15
Record: 17-13 (11-5 Big West)
NCAA bid: Automatic
RPI: 127
Coach: Bobby Braswell (13th year at CS Northridge, second NCAA tournament)
Best player: Tremaine Townsend. The senior forward was tops on the Matadors in rebounding (8.4) and second in scoring (10.9), including a 23-point game at UCLA.
Key stat: Eight players average at least 7.9 points per game Notable games: lost at Stanford, lost at New Mexico, lost at UCLA
Record in last 12 games: 9-3
Last NCAA appearance: 2001, as a No. 13 seed, lost 99-75 to Kansas in the first round

Chattanooga Mocs
Seed: No. 16
Record: 18-16 (11-9 Southern)
NCAA bid: Automatic
RPI: 174
Coach: John Shulman (Fifth year at UTC, second NCAA tournament)
Best player: Stephen McDowell. The 5-foot-11 senior led the Mocs with 18.7 points and topped the 30-point barrier three times. McDowell earned first-team All-Southern Conference honors.
Key stat: Chattanooga was 0-5 vs. power conference opponents with an average defeat of 25.4 points
Notable games: lost at Tennessee, lost at Missouri, lost to Memphis, lost to USC, lost to ETSU, lost to Alabama, beat Niagara
Record in last 12 games: 8-4
Last NCAA appearance: 2005, as a No. 15 seed, lost to Wake Forest 70-54

MIDWEST REGION

Siena Saints
Seed: No. 9
Record: 26-7 (16-2 Metro Atlantic Athletic)
NCAA bid: Automatic
RPI: 18
Coach: Fran McCaffery (Fourth year at Siena, second NCAA tournament)
Best player: Kenny Hasbrouck. Four-year starter is MAAC Player of the Year. He averages 14.7 points and shoots 36 percent from three. Hasbrouck scored 30 points in a first-round upset of Vanderbilt last year.
Key stat: Siena gets only 20.2 percent of its points from three-point field goals, which ranks No. 318 in the nation.
Notable games: beat Cornell, lost to Tennessee, lost to Oklahoma State, lost at Pittsburgh, lost at Kansas, beat Northern Iowa
Record in last 12 games: 10-2
Last NCAA appearance: 2008, as a No. 13 seed, beat Vanderbilt 83-62, lost to Villanova 84-72 in second round

Cleveland State Vikings
Seed: No. 13
Record: 25-10 (12-6 Horizon)
NCAA bid: Automatic
RPI: 52
Coach: Gary Waters (Third year at Cleveland St., first NCAA tournament)
Best player: J'Nathan Bullock. The senior is a two-time All-Horizon first-teamer and averages 15.6 points and 6.8 rebounds.
Key stat: Cleveland State held 10 opponents to 50 points or less Notable games: lost at Washington, lost to Kansas St., lost at West Virginia, won at Syracuse, went 1-2 vs. Butler
Record in last 12 games: 10-2
Last NCAA appearance: 1986, as a No. 14 seed, beat Indiana 83-79, beat St. Joseph's 75-69, lost to Navy 71-70 in Sweet Sixteen

North Dakota State Bison
Seed: No. 14
Record: 26-6 (16-2 Summit)
NCAA bid: Automatic
RPI: 87
Coach: Saul Phillips (Second year at NDSU, first NCAA tournament)
Best player: Ben Woodside. The fifth-year senior is ninth in the nation in scoring with 23 points per game and had a 60-point game against Stephen F. Austin. Woodside hit the winning jumper in the final seconds to give North Dakota State the Summit tournament title.
Key stat: The Bison are the second most experienced team in the field, according to a metric at Kenpom.com that weighs minutes and class. North Dakota State starts four seniors.
Notable games: lost at Minnesota, lost at USC
Record in last 12 games: 11-1
Last NCAA appearance: None

Robert Morris Colonials
Seed: No. 15
Record: 24-10 (15-3 Northeast)
NCAA bid: Automatic
RPI: 109
Coach: Mike Rice (Second year at Robert Morris, first NCAA tournament)
Best player: Jeremy Chappell. Chappell was the NEC Player of the Year and the NEC tournament MVP. Chappell was second in the league in scoring at 16.9, led the conference in steals and shot 41 percent from three.
Key stat: Robert Morris shoots 39.7 percent from three, good for 16th in the nation.
Notable games: Lost at Rutgers, lost at Miami, lost at Xavier Record in last 12 games: 9-3
Last NCAA appearance: 1992, as a No. 16 seed, lost to UCLA 73-53 in the first round

Alabama State Hornets
Seed: No. 16
Record: 22-9 (16-2 Southwestern Athletic)
NCAA bid: Automatic
RPI: 179
Coach: Lewis Jackson (Fourth year at Alabama St., first NCAA tournament)
Best player: Brandon Brooks
. The SWAC Player of the Year was sixth in assists nationally with 6.8 a game and averages 14.2 points. As a junior, Brooks had a 20-assist game.
Key stat: The Hornets shoot 64.1 percent from the line, the worst of any team in the NCAA tournament
Notable games: Lost at Nebraska, lost at Miss. State, lost at Ole Miss, lost at Auburn Record in last 12 games: 11-1
Last NCAA appearance: 2004, as a No. 16 seed, lost to Duke 96-61

Morehead State Eagles
Seed: No. 16
Record: 19-15 (12-6 OVC)
NCAA bid: Automatic
RPI: 141
Coach: Donnie Tyndall (third year at Morehead State, first NCAA tournament)
Best player: Kenneth Faried
. Faried is one of the top rebounders in the nation at 12.4 per game, and he was named OVC Defensive Player of the Year after finishing second in the league in blocks (1.8) and third in steals (2.1). Faried can score, too, averaging 17.3 points in the OVC tournament.
Key stat: Morehead State went 4-12 in road games and lost six games to teams rated 250 or higher in the RPI
Notable games: lost at Vanderbilt, lost at Louisville, beat East Tennessee St.
Record in last 12 games: 7-5
Last NCAA appearance: 1984, as a No. 12 seed, beat North Carolina A&T 70-69, lost to Louisville 72-59 in second round

EAST REGION

VCU Rams
Seed: No. 11
Record: 24-9 (14-4 Colonial Athletic)
NCAA bid: Automatic
RPI: 50
Coach: Anthony Grant (Third year at VCU, second NCAA tournament)
Best player: Eric Maynor. Two-time CAA Player of the Year led the league in points and assists. He is one of three players averaging at least 22 points and 6 assists. As a sophomore, he hit a last-second shot in the NCAA tournament to upset Duke.
Key stat: Larry Sanders set a CAA final record with 20 rebounds and seven blocks in VCU's 71-50 win over George Mason.
Notable games: lost at Rhode Island, lost to Vanderbilt, beat New Mexico, lost to Oklahoma, lost to Nevada
Record in last 12 games: 9-3
Last NCAA appearance: 2007, as a No. 11 seed, beat Duke 79-77, lost to Pittsburgh 84-79 in second round

Portland State Vikings
Seed: No. 13
Record: 21-9 (11-5 Big Sky)
NCAA bid: Automatic
RPI: 113
Coach: Ken Bone (Fourth year at Portland St., second NCAA tournament)
Best player: Jeremiah Dominguez. The two-time All-Big Sky guard averages 12.6 points and 3.1 assists. The senior, who stands just 5-foot-6, is shooting 44 percent from three, which ranks 13th nationally.
Key stat: The Vikings average 9.7 three-pointers a game, which is fourth in the nation. Notable games: Lost at Washington, beat Gonzaga, lost at Baylor
Record in last 12 games:
8-4
Last NCAA appearance: 2008, as a No. 16 seed, lost to Kansas 85-61 in the first round

American University Eagles
Seed: No. 14
Record: 24-7 (13-1 Patriot)
NCAA bid: Automatic
RPI: 73
Coach: Jeff Jones (Ninth year at American, second NCAA tournament)
Best player: Derrick Mercer. The senior point guard was Patriot League Player of the Year and averages 13.5 points and 5.2 assists with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.52:1.
Key stat: American ranks No. 325 in Kenpom.com's adjusted tempo, meaning they are a deliberate team that works the shot clock and keeps possessions down.
Notable games: Lost at Oklahoma, lost at Georgetown, lost at Maryland
Record in last 12 games:
12-0
Last NCAA appearance: 2008, as a No. 15 seed, lost to Tennessee 72-57

Binghamton Bearcats
Seed:
No. 15
Record: 23-8 (13-3 America East)
NCAA bid: Automatic
RPI: 88
Coach: Kevin Broadus (Second year at Binghamton, first NCAA tournament)
Best player: D.J. Rivera
. The junior forward led the Bearcats in points (20.0) and was second in rebounds (6.5). The St. Joseph's transfer scored in double figures in every game but one.
Key stat: Binghamton was 8-1 in games decided by five points or less or in overtime
Notable games: Won at Rutgers
Record in last 12 games: 11-1
Last NCAA appearance: None

East Tennessee State Buccanneers
Seed: No. 16
Record: 22-10 (14-6 Atlantic Sun)
NCAA bid: Automatic
RPI: 116
Coach: Murray Bartow (Sixth year at ETSU, second NCAA tournament)
Best player: Kevin Tiggs. The senior forward averaged 21.5 points and shot 54 percent from the floor, making him one of just six players nationally to average 20 points and shoot over 50 percent.
Key stat: ETSU was 15-1 when scoring 80 points or more Notable games: beat Chattanooga, lost to Morehead State
Record in last 12 games: 8-4
Last NCAA appearance: 2004, as a No. 13 seed, lost to Cincinnati 80-77 in first round

SOUTH REGION

Gonzaga Bulldogs
Seed: No. 4
Record: 26-5 (14-0 West Coast)
NCAA bid: Automatic
RPI: 27
Coach: Mark Few (10th year at Gonzaga, 10th NCAA tournament)
Best player: Josh Heytvelt. The senior leads the Bulldogs in scoring with 14.8 points per game and is shooting 54 percent from the floor. Heytvelt enjoyed his first injury-free and suspension-free season and was first-team All-WCC.
Key stat: The Zags are second in the nation in field goal defense, limiting opponents to 36.2 percent shooting
Notable games: beat Oklahoma State, beat Maryland, beat Tennessee twice, beat Washington State, lost to Arizona, lost to UConn, lost to Utah, lost to Memphis
Record in last 12 games: 11-1
Last NCAA appearance: 2008, as a No. 7 seed, lost to Davidson 82-76 in the first round

Butler Bulldogs
Seed:
No. 9
Record: 26-5 (15-3 Horizon)
NCAA bid: At-Large
RPI: 23
Coach: Brad Stevens (Second year at Butler, second NCAA tournament)
Best player: Matt Howard. The sophomore was the Horizon Player of the Year after leading a freshman-heavy team to the regular season crown. The post player averaged 14.3 points and 6.9 rebounds while shooting over 55 percent from the floor.
Key stat: Butler has won at least one game in the NCAA tournament the last four times it has reached the NCAAs.
Notable games: Beat Northwestern, went 2-1 vs. Cleveland State, lost at Ohio State, won at Xavier, beat UAB
Record in last 12 games: 8-4
Last NCAA appearance: 2008, as a No. 7 seed, beat South Alabama 81-61, lost to Tennessee 76-71 (OT) in second round

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers
Seed: No. 12
Record: 24-8 (15-3 Sun Belt)
NCAA bid: Automatic
RPI: 43
Coach: Ken McDonald (First year at WKU, first NCAA tournament)
Best player: Orlando Mendez-Valdez. The senior was the Sun Belt player of the year after averaging just 5.7 points per game as a junior. Mendez-Valdez recorded the first triple-double in WKU history this year and made at least five threes in a game six times.
Key stat: Western was 4-1 in neutral site games, including a win over Louisville Notable games: lost at Houston, beat Louisville, beat Georgia, lost to Florida St., lost at Miss. St.
Record in last 12 games: 11-1
Last NCAA appearance: 2008, as a No. 12 seed, beat Drake 101-99, beat San Diego 72-63, lost to UCLA 88-78 in Sweet Sixteen

Akron Zips
Seed: No. 13
Record: 23-12 (10-6 Mid-American)
NCAA bid: Automatic
RPI: 99
Coach: Keith Dambrot (Fifth year at Akron, first NCAA tournament)
Best player: Brett McKnight. The sophomore reserve leads the balanced Zips in scoring with 11.3 points. He was voted the MAC Sixth Man of the Year and had a game-winning tip-in against Toledo.
Key stat: The Zips allow opponents to shoot just 29.2 percent from three-point range.
Notable games: Lost at Pittsburgh, lost to Dayton, lost a VCU, lost at URI
Record in last 12 games:
8-4
Last NCAA appearance: 1986, as a No. 15 seed, lost to Michigan 70-64 in the first round

Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks
Seed:
No. 14
Record: 24-7 (13-3 Southland)
NCAA bid: Automatic
RPI: 74
Coach: Danny Kaspar (Ninth year at SFA, first NCAA tournament)
Best player: Matt Kingsley. The fifth-year senior was in the top five in the Southland in points (15.9), rebounds (7.5) and field goal percentage (55.2).
Key stat: The Lumberjacks lead the nation in defending the three-point shot, allowing opponents to shoot just 26.6 percent from beyond the arc.
Notable games: Lost at Texas A&M, beat North Dakota State, lost at Arkansas, lost at Texas Tech
Record in last 12 games: 10-2
Last NCAA appearance: None

Morgan State Bears
Seed:
No. 15
Record: 23-11 (13-3 Mid-Eastern Athletic)
NCAA bid: Automatic
RPI: 130
Coach: Todd Bozeman (Third year at Morgan State, third NCAA tournament)
Best player: Reggie Holmes
. The junior averages 16.9 points and 5.5 rebounds for the MEAC champs. The Baltimore native upped those numbers to 21 and 7.3 in the three-game conference tournament.
Key stat: The Bears are 10-0 when Holmes scores 20 points, including a victory over Maryland.
Notable games: Lost to Utah, lost at Ole Miss, lost at St. Mary's, lost at Washington, won at Maryland
Record in last 12 games: 11-1
Last NCAA appearance: None

Radford Highlanders
Seed: No. 16
Record: 22-11 (15-3, Big South)
NCAA bid: Automatic
RPI: 132
Coach: Brad Greenberg (Second year at Radford, first NCAA tournament)
Best player: Artsiom Parakhouski
. The big man is averaging 16 points and 11.2 rebounds per game, which is ninth in the nation. The junior was in the top 10 in the Big South in points, rebounds, field goal percentage (.547), free throw percentage (.647) and blocked shots (1.24).
Key stat: Radford averages 16.3 turnovers per game, which ranks No. 303 in the country.
Notable games: lost at Virginia, lost at West Virginia, lost at Wake Forest
Record in last 12 games:
11-1
Last NCAA appearance: 1998, as a No. 16 seed, lost to Duke 99-63

 
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