One part of the NCAA Tournament that always brings even more excitement are the upsets. Every year, we see numerous higher seeded teams ousted in the early rounds. Those upsets bring on the “Cinderella” stories of the NCAA Tournament. With basketball gaining worldwide popularity daily, more and more talented players are playing college basketball. Nowadays, it’s not uncommon for a “mid-major” team to upset someone from one of the Power 5 conferences. Let’s analyze one “Cinderella” team that we think can make a run in this year’s NCAA Tournament so you can bet against their College Basketball odds.
March Madness: Longshot Surviving First Round
The Liberty Flames were the first team to claim an automatic berth in the 2021 NCAA Tournament. The Flames defeated North Alabama to claim the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament. Prior to playing North Alabama, Liberty had already claimed the automatic berth due to the fact that North Alabama was ineligible to play in this year’s NCAA Tournament.
Liberty finished the season with a 23-5 overall record. They’ve been on a roll, winning their last 12 games. Liberty is led by head coach Ritchie McKay. McKay has made two appearances in the NCAA Tournament. He led New Mexico to the tournament, and he has also taken Liberty to the tournament as well. In 2019, Liberty was the 12 seed, and they defeated the #5 Mississippi State Bulldogs to advance to the second round.
Last season, the Flames were poised to make a long postseason run. They had claimed an automatic berth and were awaiting Selection Sunday to see where they would be seeded. They had won 30 games during the regular season, and they were poised and ready to make a run. However, the season was ended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and Liberty was unable to make their dream a reality.
This season, the Flames think that they can make a run. Liberty isn’t afraid of a challenge, as they played five schools from Power 5 Conferences. They finished 2-3 against those five. They lost a tough game to Purdue to open the season. They then defeated Mississippi State. In their second game against an SEC foe, they beat Frank Martin’s South Carolina Gamecocks. Their fourth game against a Power 5 school came against TCU, as they lost to the Horned Frogs by four. Their final game against a Power 5 team came against a tough Missouri squad on the road. Liberty lost at Columbia 69-60, impressing a ranked Missouri squad.
Liberty knows that they missed a huge opportunity last season. They’ll be poised and ready to make a run this season. They have a very efficient offense, and are known for their outstanding shooting. They’ll more than likely be seeded anywhere from 11-13, so they’ll be playing a tough team from a Power 5 conference. As they’ve already shown this season, they aren’t afraid to play the bigger schools.
Look for the Liberty Flames to be one of this year’s “Cinderella” stories. They have the team to make a run, and as they’ve already proven this season, they’re not afraid to mix it up with the big boys. We’re hoping to see the Flames have a nice run in the “Big Dance”.