Appeal of top teams

Posted: March 21, 2014

EVEN THE president is picking Michigan State, and all he ever does is go with 1-seeds.

Such is the fate of the Delaware Blue Hens, who won the Colonial Tournament, earned an NCAA bid for the first time since 1999 and now have a date in the NCAA dance with Godzilla.

The Hens are two-touchdown underdogs because smart money in March usually follows Michigan State and its coach, Tom Izzo.

"We don't really worry about the name on the other team's jersey, we just play against them," Delaware guard Davon Usher said. "Those guys lace up their sneakers just like we do and we're going to put in all we got to win."

There was a lot of that sort of talk going around the country as players and coaches, be they Davids or Goliaths, held press conferences ahead of the start of play today. For every jump shot attempted today, there was a cliché yesterday. Stay focused. Play within ourselves. Don't get caught in the moment.

But these kids grew up as college basketball fans. Most of them probably are just as familiar with Joe Lunardi as they are with Joe Biden. They know the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament usually is littered with discarded teams from power conferences.

In the last 3 years, a 15-seed has beaten a 2-seed three times. A 14 has beaten a 3 twice, and six times - in 12 chances - a No. 12 has upset a No. 5.

"The past few years, you see the 14- and 15-seeds come out with victories," said Milwaukee forward Matt Tiby, who plays 2-seeded Villanova tonight. "It's just because they have more heart and determination than the other team."

Dangerous Cinderellas

Today

14-Mercer vs. 3-Duke

14-Western Michigan vs.

3-Syracuse

12-N.C. State vs. 5-Saint Louis

Tomorrow

14-UL-Lafayette vs. Creighton

14-NC Central vs. 3-Iowa State

12-North Dakota State vs. 5-Oklahoma

All-name team

Titus Rubies, Cincinnati

Marc Loving, Ohio State

Scoochie Smith, Dayton

Dallas Ennema (no thanks), Albany

Rob Loe, Saint Louis

Jordair Jett, Saint Louis

Jonathan Holmes (yikes), Texas

Je'Lon Hornbeak, Oklahoma

Fill 'er up

The five most prolific scorers in the field:

1. Doug McDermott, Creighton, 26.9

Opp.: UL-Lafayette, tomorrow, 3 p.m. (truTV)

2. T.J. Warren, N.C. State, 24.8

Opp.: Saint Louis, today, 7:20 p.m. (TNT)

3. Tyler Haws, BYU, 23.4

Opp.: Oregon, today, 3 p.m. (truTV)

4. Bryce Cotton, Providence, 21.4

Opp.: North Carolina, tomorrow, 7:20 p.m. (TNT)

5. Aaric Murray, Texas So., 21.2

Opp.: Last night vs. Poly, he scored 38 points in 81-69 loss.

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