Cinderella Casting 2018: Atlantic 10 and Sun Belt Bids

March 11, 2018
By K. Becks

The brackets are out and the conversation about picks, potential upsets and everything in between is already well underway.

However, we still have a couple of mid-major conferences to break down in an attempt to evaluate all of the potential Cinderellas that may exist within this year’s Tournament.

Let’s take a look at a couple more conferences that finished later on Sunday afternoon.

Atlantic 10

Bids: St. Bonaventure, Davidson, Rhode Island

Seed: 7 (Rhode Island), 11 (St. Bonaventure), 12 (Davidson)

Probability of being a Cinderella: Decent (St. Bonaventure, Davidson), N/A (Rhode Island)

Fans of the Atlantic 10 weren’t sure just how close their teams were to the bubble before the Selection Show began, but it became apparent that the answer was “squarely on it” when it was announced that St. Bonaventure was going to play in Dayton on Tuesday night. Now the Bonnies have the opportunity to crash the party with a victory in hand, as they will face UCLA for the right to play Florida on Thursday. St. Bonaventure is a legitimate threat to take down both the Bruins and Gators with Jaylen Adams leading the way. Adams is a scoring threat from anywhere on the floor and the Bonnies have lost just twice since January 19.

Davidson is already somewhat of a Cinderella, getting hot during the Atlantic 10 tournament to steal a bid from a bubble team. The Wildcats are well coached and have the ability to hurt you from behind the arc (26th nationally in three point shooting percentage). First round opponent Kentucky is third in the country at defending the three ball, however, so it could be tough sledding for Bob McKillop’s squad.

Rhode Island can’t be considered a Cinderella unless the Rams go on to beat Duke in a potential Round of 32 matchup. This could happen, but first the Rams will need to prove that the 4-4 stretch to end the pre-Tournament campaign was not a sign of things to come. This senior laden squad should expect to at least make it to the second round.

Sun Belt

Bid: Georgia State

Seed: 15

Probability of being a Cinderella: Very Unlikely

The Panthers know what it takes to be a Cinderella – just three years ago, Georgia State shocked No. 3 seed Baylor at the buzzer to move on to the Round of 32. Head coach Ron Hunter is still at the school, but his son R.J., who hit the buzzer beater in that game against Baylor, is not. What the Panthers do have is a similarly talented guard in sophomore D’Marcus Simonds, who led the Sun Belt with 20.9 PPG this season. When Simonds is on, the entire offense flows better.

Unfortunately for Simonds, he will be tasked with finding ways to score against the No. 2 adjusted defense by KenPom metrics in Cincinnati. Mick Cronin’s squad is routinely one of the best in the country on the defensive end and this year is no different. It was a huge upset when the Panthers took down what was a very hot Baylor team coming into the 2015 tournament and it would be just as big if this year’s Georgia State team took down Cincinnati. I don’t see lightning striking twice in the same spot.

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