It’s still early in the 2018-19 men’s college basketball season, but there are some potential Cinderella’s eager to crash the annual March Madness ball. A few may not surprise anyone – Mike Daum and South Dakota State for example – but a few others would seem unlikely candidates to put on this year’s glass slipper.
The Daum-inator South Dakota State’s Daum is one of the best players in the nation. A likely lottery pick in next year’s NBA draft, Daum is a 6-foot-9-inch do-it-all forward who has led the Jackrabbits to three straight NCAA bids. SDSU is currently 10-5 with losses to No. 7 Nevada and Memphis. Daum is averaging 25.3 points and 10.9 rebounds per game. Look for the Jackrabbits to win the Summit League once again.
Where Buffalo Roams A year ago, the Bulls qualified for the NCAA tournament as the MAC champion and promptly beat No. 4 Arizona. Buffalo didn’t just beat the Wildcats either. They pounded an Arizona team that had the NBA’s No. 1 overall draft pick in DeAndre Ayton. The Bulls return five of their top six scorers including 6-3 guard C.J. Massinburg who is averaging 17.9 points and 6.9 rebounds per game. Buffalo is ranked No. 21 and suffered its first defeat of the season to 20th-ranked Marquette last week.
Dylan & The Belmont Ohio Valley Conference power Belmont could make some noise in the 2018-19 season with the return of leading scorer Dylan Windler. The 6-8 senior guard averages 19.2 points per game so far this season as the Bruins have started 9-1. That includes a 74-72 upset of UCLA. Head coach Rick Byrd has led the Bruins to eight straight 20-win seasons and has taken Belmont to seven NCAA tournaments since 2006. With Windler leading the way, Belmont could be last year’s Loyola.
Speaking Of Last year’s March Madness darling Loyola is not off to a great start – just 7-6 – in the new season, but head coach Porter Moser front-loaded the 2018-19 schedule. The Ramblers, who return nearly their entire lineup from a year ago, have suffered losses to a No. 5 Nevada and a No. 22 Maryland. Loyola lost early to Furman (60-58), a team that has also been ranked in the Top 25. The experience should help Moser’s squad which is currently 13th in the nation in scoring defense allowing opponents just 60.7 points per game.
A Cinderella Stretch Last year, second-year head coach Rick Stansbury led Western Kentucky to a 27-11 record, a third-place finish in Conference USA, and a trip to the NIT’s Final Four. As the Hilltoppers hit the midway point of the 2018-19 season, they do not appear headed to Cinderella status. They are just 6-6 with losses to Indiana State, Missouri State, and Troy none of which are basketball powerhouses. WKU did lose to a ranked Washington, but beat the SEC’s Arkansas and just recently beat West Coast Conference power Saint Mary’s. What makes Western Kentucky so intriguing is its roster. Guard Taveion Hollingsworth scores 15.4 points a game and 6-11 freshman Charles Bassey, who spurned the biggest programs in the nation to go to WKU, is averaging 14.2 points and 9.3 rebounds.