These squads may be advancing more than one game
The NCAA Tournament always features some teams that have a great story and go farther than they are projected to. The key is to find out which double-digit seeds are going to be the ones that either bust your bracket or make things a whole lot better for you because you read this article and picked it right.
What do these double-digit seeded teams have in common? They have a player capable of taking over games, a path conducive to a run and a head coach that is under the radar.
13 East Tennessee State Buccaneers (East Region)
Record: 27-7, Southern regular season (tied) and tournament champions
Notable Regular Season Games: L at UNC Wilmington (68-59), W vs. South Dakota State (71-59), L at Dayton (75-61)
First Round Opponent: No. 4 Florida (Thursday, March 16)
Guard play is the name of the game for the Bucs who are led by T.J. Cromer and AJ Meriweather. Hanner Mosquera-Perea, an transfer by way of Indiana, is one of four guys in the regular rotation who shoots better than 50 percent from the field. Yes, they did struggle in their early non-conference tests, but Steve Forbes is a solid head coach and this team has a winning pedigree. Eight times this season, ETSU has scored 90 points or more.
14 Florida Gulf Coast Eagles (West Region)
Record: 26-7, Atlantic Sun regular season and tournament champions
Notable Regular Season Games: L vs. Florida (80-59), L at Baylor (81-72), L at Michigan State (78-77)
First Round Opponent: No. 3 Florida State (Thursday, March 16)
As if Dunk City needed any more motivation, they get an in-state opponent in Florida State. The Eagles have five players who shoot better than 50 percent from the field including Demetris Morant (75.7 percent). They are as athletic as the Seminoles and probably just as deep. FGCU didn't have Marc-Eddy Norelia for two stretches of the season including all three of the losses mentioned above. He makes a big difference and you'll see it when the Eagles take the court. It should be noted that they would definitely match up well with Maryland or Xavier should they beat FSU.
11 Rhode Island Rams (Midwest Region)
Record: 24-9, Atlantic 10 Tournament champions
Notable Regular Season Games: W vs. Cincinnati (76-71), L vs. Duke (75-65), L at Providence (63-60), L at Dayton (67-64), L vs. Dayton (75-74), W vs VCU (69-59), W vs. VCU (70-63, A-10 Tournament final)
First Round Opponent: No. 6 Creighton (Friday, March 17)
There's something to coming into this thing with momentum and Rhode Island has won eight straight after being on the outside of the bubble looking in. The Rams lost two straight at home including a 53-43 defeat at the hands of Fordham back on Feb. 15. They haven’t lost since, capped off by Sunday’s Atlantic 10 Tournament championship victory over VCU. Much was expected from URI before the season, but injuries hurt this team early on. Now that everyone's healthy, the Rams are a deep team led by EC Matthews, Hassan Martin and Jared Terrell. My one issue is that they are a little loose with the ball at times so they are vulnerable to teams that can pressure and create turnovers.
10 Oklahoma State Cowboys (Midwest Region)
Notable Regular Season Games: L vs. North Carolina (101-75), L at Maryland (71-70), W at Wichita State (93-76), W vs. Arkansas (99-71), L at Kansas (87-80), W at West Virginia (82-75)
First Round Opponent: No. 7 Michigan (Friday, March 17)
Usually this is a space just for mid-majors, but I think the Cowboys from the Big 12 are an intriguing team. Obviously coming out of a Power Five conference means you are tournament-tested and that’s especially the case when you consider the strength of the Big 12 this year. Oklahoma State is getting a Michigan team that played four games in four days to win the Big Ten Tournament, so the Wolverines could be tired. I really like OSU’s backcourt of Jawun Evans and Phil Forte III as well as Jeffrey Carroll. Sometimes you just need a few scorers and a good matchup to move on in this thing. Head coach Brad Underwood also did good things with Stephen F. Austin in the Tournament.
12 Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (South Region)
Record: 30-4, Conference USA regular season and tournament champions
Notable Regular Season Games: W vs. UNC Wilmington (68-63), W vs. Vanderbilt (71-48), L at VCU (80-77)
First Round Opponent: No. 5 Minnesota (Thursday, March 16)
I wish I could take credit for listing MTSU in this same space last year, but I l overlooked the Blue Raiders. I won’t make the same mistake again with the majority of last year’s team back as well as the addition of Conference USA Player of the Year JaCorey Williams. Giddy Potts and Reggie Upshaw are dynamic players in their own right, so this team should be able to compete with Minnesota, a younger and less experienced team. Kermit Davis should be able to out-coach Richard Pitino as well. Middle Tennessee is one of the few teams listed here with a winning record against other Tournament teams.
10 Wichita State Shockers (South Region)
Record: 30-4, Missouri Valley Conference regular season (tied) and tournament champions
Notable Regular Season Games: L vs. Louisville (62-52), L vs. Michigan State (77-72), L vs. Oklahoma State (93-76), W vs. South Dakota State (89-67)
First Round Opponent: No. 7 Dayton (Friday, March 17)
This is going to be one of the most fascinating cases in the Tournament. The Shockers have great numbers in terms of the RPI, but not a lot of believers. Clearly the committee doesn't think they are that good considering they are a No. 10 seed that will face Kentucky should both teams win in the first round. The Missouri Valley Conference was down this year outside of Illinois State so the lack of competition was probably a factor in Wichita Strate’s seeding. The players aren't bad as Shaq Morris is a good big man while Landry Shamet and Conner Frankamp are pretty good guards. These Shockers are young in spots, but with this disrespect from the committee, they will be playing with a chip on their shoulder. We shall see how far that takes them.
— Written by Matt Josephs, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. Josephs prefers non-Power 5 college football and may be the only one wagering on the Sun Belt. Follow him on Twitter @MidMajorMatt.