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Filling the Brackets

Nov. 18, 2013
Nov. 18, 2013

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Nov. 18, 2013

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Filling the Brackets

THERE ARE PLENTY OF NCAA SLEEPERS IN THE LOWER 48

SCHOOL / CONFERENCE / RETURNING STARTERS

This is an article from the Nov. 18, 2013 issue

21 NEW MEXICO / MWC / 4: With conference POY Kendall Williams (13.3 ppg) and three other starters back, don't expect much drop-off in coach Craig Neal's first year.

22 UCLA / PAC-12 / 3: Blossoming 6'5" guard Jordan Adams (15.3 ppg) and 6'9" stat-sheet stuffer Kyle Anderson (8.6 rpg, 3.5 apg) will lead the Bruins.

23 NOTRE DAME / ACC / 4: With Eric Atkins and Jerian Grant, the Irish bring one of the nation's most underrated backcourts to the ACC.

24 TENNESSEE / SEC / 3: The arrival of 6'2" senior point guard Antonio Barton from Memphis helps Vols get to coach Cuonzo Martin's first NCAA tournament.

25 WISCONSIN / BIG TEN / 2: Young Badgers need breakout year from 6'7" sophomore forward Sam Dekker (9.6 ppg) to earn 16th straight NCAA bid.

26 COLORADO / PAC-12 / 4: Sophomore Josh Scott (10.2 ppg, 5.7 rpg) will emerge as the inside complement to 6'6" Spencer Dinwiddie (15.3 ppg).

27 INDIANA / BIG TEN / 1: Four starters are gone, but 6-foot sophomore PG Yogi Ferrell and 6'10" five-star freshman Noah Vonhleh will keep Hoosiers dancing.

28 BAYLOR / BIG 12 / 3: Highly skilled 7'1" sophomore Isaiah Austin and bruising 6'9" senior Cory Jefferson give Bears a frontcourt few can match.

29 IOWA / BIG TEN / 5: Seven-year tournament drought will end as deep, flexible roster has 93% of its scoring returning from last year's NIT runner-up.

30 OREGON / PAC-12 / 2: Dana Altman's transfer haven is a contender again, thanks to former UCLA/UNLV forward Mike Moser and 6'3" returning PG Dominic Artis.

31 VIRGINIA / ACC / 3: The Cavaliers' disciplined defense (tied for 12th nationally in points per possession last year) and 6'6" guard Joe Harris (16.3 ppg) get the job done.

32 SAINT LOUIS / A-10 / 4: Senior forward Dwayne Evans's outstanding performance last March (19.9 ppg, 10.1 rpg) portends even bigger things for this year.

33 GEORGETOWN / BIG EAST / 4: Junior forward Greg Whittington (torn ACL) is still recovering; senior guard Markel Starks (41.7% from three) picks up the slack.

34 BOISE STATE / MWC / 5: Junior gunners Anthony Drmic (17.7 ppg, 39.2% from three) and Derrick Marks (16.3 ppg) should repeat as MWC's top-scoring duo.

35 ARIZONA STATE / PAC-12 / 3: With 5'10" All-America candidate Jahii Carson running the point, an ever-quickening tempo equals success.

36 PURDUE / BIG TEN / 4: Matt Painter's crew bounces back from rare losing season thanks to backcourt of 6-foot Ronnie Johnson and 6'4" Terone Johnson (no relation).

37 VILLANOVA / BIG EAST / 4: Maturation of sophomore point guard Ryan Arcidiacono should help Wildcats; emergence of classmate Daniel Ochefu will be critical.

38 PITTSBURGH / ACC / 3: Panthers lack experience but have a trio of capable guards and a promising big body in 6'8", 245-pound freshman Michael Young.

39 UNLV / MWC / 1: New faces abound, but Rebels will still run while reigning Mountain West defensive POY Khem Birch (2.6 bpg) anchors the D inside.

40 LA SALLE / A-10 / 4: Explorers waited 21 years for last year's tournament bid; 6-foot senior Tyreek Duren (38.5% from three) will make sure they return.

41 SAN DIEGO STATE / MWC / 2: Graduate transfer Josh Davis (17.6 ppg, 10.7 rpg at Tulane last season) should slide into a featured role immediately.

42 CINCINNATI / AMERICAN / 2: The stifling Bearcats will need a scoring sidekick for all-conference 6'4" senior guard Sean Kilpatrick (17.0 ppg, 5.2 rpg).

43 IOWA STATE / BIG 12 / 2: Melvin Ejim led Big 12 with 9.3 boards; fellow forward Georges Niang was league's 10th-most-efficient offensive player as a freshman.

44 STANFORD / PAC-12 / 4: Experienced lineup—led by 6'10" Toronto native Dwight Powell (14.9 ppg, 8.4 rpg)—leads Cardinal to Big Dance for first time since '08.

45 BYU / WCC / 3: The Cougars' frontcourt is young, so junior guards Tyler Haws (21.7 ppg) and Matt Carlino (4.8 apg) will have to carry the load.

46 LSU / SEC / 3: Five-star 6'9" forward Jarrell Martin—a Baton Rouge native—should push the Tigers back to the NCAA tournament.

47 TOWSON / CAA / 4: Ex--Georgetown forward Jerrelle Benimon (his 20 double doubles in 2012--13 ranked second nationally) is the best player you've never heard of.

48 LOUISIANA TECH / CUSA / 4: Eleven Bulldogs are back from last year's 27-win team, which ranked 13th nationally in kenpom's defensive turnover percentage.

49 MARYLAND / ACC / 3: Junior guard Dez Wells (13.1 ppg) can attack the rim—and with 4.9 boards and 3.0 assists per game, he does more than just score.

50 ALABAMA / SEC / 3: Coach Anthony Grant's D has been top 20 in adjusted efficiency for three straight years; all-SEC guard Trevor Releford needs to carry the offense.

51 NEW MEXICO STATE / WAC / 3: Canadian freshman Tanveer Bhullar, who is 7'3", joins 7'5" sophomore brother Sim to give Aggies the nation's tallest teammates.

52 FLORIDA GULF COAST / A-SUN / 4: Lob connoisseur Brett Comer and dunkmaster Chase Fieler will help new coach Joe Dooley launch Dunk City Part II.

53 DAVIDSON / SOUTHERN / 2: 2012 Southern Conference Player of the Year De'Mon Brooks and a fleet of sharpshooters will give Bob McKillop an 11th league title.

54 NORTH DAKOTA STATE / SUMMIT / 5: Efficient forward Marshall Bjorklund (66.7 FG% in '12--13) and 6'7" senior guard Taylor Braun (15.4 ppg) lead the Bison.

55 STONY BROOK / NEC / 4: Jameel Warney had 12.4 ppg on 61.8% shooting as a freshman. This year he gets the Seawolves to the NCAAs for the first time.

56 BOSTON U / PATRIOT / 5: A perimeter-oriented lineup, led by 6-foot senior guard D.J. Irving (14.2 ppg), makes a splash in the Terriers' new conference.

57 WEBER STATE / BIG SKY / 3: Six of top eight players are back from the team that ranked first in three-point shooting (41.6%) and second in three-point D (28.2%).

58 GREEN BAY / HORIZON / 4: Inside-out combo of 7'1" Alec Brown and 5'11" Keifer Sykes can make long-range shots, hitting 42.9% and 43.1%, respectively.

59 IONA / MAAC / 3: Sean Armand (career 42.7% from three) and speedy, high-scoring Gaels get defensive boost from 6'6" Rutgers transfer Mike Poole.

60 TOLEDO / MAC / 4: Five-year partnership of coach Tod Kowalczyk and guard Rian Pearson (17.9 ppg) began at Green Bay and ends with an NCAA appearance.

61 GEORGIA STATE / SUN BELT / 4: Backcourt of 6'5" sophomore stud R.J. Hunter and 5'11" scorer Devonta White gets help from 6'2" Kentucky transfer Ryan Harrow.

62 EASTERN KENTUCKY / OVC / 4: Trey-happy Colonels (45.5% of last season's field goal attempts were threes) can score in bunches.

63 WAGNER / NEC / 3: Two-time NEC Defensive POY Kenneth Ortiz is one of many talented guards on 29-year-old Bashir Mason's second Seahawks team.

64 UC IRVINE / BIG WEST / 2: Good luck scoring inside against 7'5" top 100 recruit Mamadou Ndiaye and 6'8" reigning Big West block leader Will Davis (2.4 per game).

65 NORFOLK STATE / MEAC / 4: Senior Pendarvis Williams is an effective shooter (40.6% from three) who should repeat as MEAC Player of the Year.

66 NORTHWESTERN STATE / SOUTHLAND / 3: Fast-paced Demons, who ranked third nationally in adjusted tempo in '12--13, sprint to first back-to-back NCAA trips.

67 TEXAS SOUTHERN / SWAC / 3: Coach Mike Davis and 6'10" La Salle/West Virginia castoff Aaric Murray will get Tigers to first NCAA berth since 2003.

68 HIGH POINT / BIG SOUTH / 5: Preseason Big South POY John Brown (16.4 ppg) and 6'9" senior Allan Chaney (8.1 rpg) are the league's two best forwards.

PHOTOPORTER BINKS (ATKINS)PHOTOJOHN W. MCDONOUGH/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (ADAMS)