Cinderella Watch: Mid-Major Teams to Watch in 2014-15

Ronald Martinez

With Dayton's loss this past weekend we're left with no mid-major teams in the NCAA Tournament. Who are some teams to keep an eye on next year in a very early Cinderella Watch for the 2014-15 NCAA Tournament?

It's over...they're all gone... As we move to the Final Four, there are no mid-majors left in the nation's most important tournament and five others messing around in the CBI and CIT. Shortly, we'll get more and more into the off-season, where we'll keep an eye on recruiting, transfers, coaching changes, and scheduling. Before jumping into the off-season so quickly, who are the teams who could be making some noise this time next year?

Wichita State Shockers: Of course we're not giving up on the Shockers yet! Cleanthony Early and some others will be moving on but the core of Fred Van Vleet, Ron Baker, and Tekele Cotton are here to stay. The sophomore core of Van Vleet and Cotton will keep this team in the national headlines for the foreseeable future. Also, have you noticed in the madness of continuing coaching rumors that Gregg Marshall's name doesn't pop up as much say...Shaka Smart? Everyone knows that the Shockers are a likely stalwart in the Top 25.

VCU Rams: Speaking of Shaka Smart, his VCU Rams will certainly be a preseason favorite again next season. Sure, big man Juvonte Reddic moves on, and so does Rob Bradenburg, but the Rams have their best recruiting class ever coming in and guys like Mo Alie-Cox should be able to fill in the gaps instantly. Smart's new/young squad may need some time to gel, but look for them to be a force as the season moves to March.

Harvard Crimson: It looks like Tommy Amaker will stay put for the moment, and it should be another year where his Crimson make headlines. Brandyn Curry graduates, but the Crimson's core of Siyani Chambers and Wesley Saunders will be back and make the Crimson the runaway preseason favorite in the Ivy League and another likely Cinderella.

BYU Cougars: The Oregon Ducks sent the BYU Cougars packing early in the NCAA Tournament, but this year could just be setting that stage for next year for Dave Rose's squad. The whole gang is back next year, from Haws to Collinsworth to Carlino. Gonzaga's WCC dominance may be ended and the Cougars may be set to take center stage for the first time since Jimmer-mania.

Georgia State Panthers: An overtime loss in the Sun Belt final to Louisiana sent Georgia State to the NIT and an eventual first round loss to Clemson. Devonta White and Manny Atkins will move on from Ron Hunter's 25-win squad, but as long as the Panthers have Kentucky transfer Ryan Harrow and super son R.J. Hunter, then they have the ability to blossom into a force on the national scene.

Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns: Let's stay in the Sun Belt. This may be a bit of a stretch for some folks, but Bob Marlin's Ragin Cajuns will be a dangerous team next year. Elfrid Payton is one of the nation's best point guards and is just one cog in a lethal combo he forms with rising sophomore Shawn Long. Louisiana now has a taste of the NCAA Tournament and scared Creighton plenty enough to learn and maybe make a run next season.

Tulsa Golden Hurricane: Danny Manning is building something special at Tulsa and his Golden Hurricanes may be poised for even bigger things next season considering Rashad Smith, D'Andre Wright, James Woodard, and Shaquille Harrison are all sophomores. Could Manning become a March legend again?

Cleveland State Vikings: Cleveland State finished the regular season on a 10-1 run before getting bounced from the Horizon League Tournament courtesy of Wright State. Gary Waters probably can't wait for next year after the Vikings CIT appearance, as Anton Grady, Trey Lewis and Bryn Forbes all have two years left in the green and gold.

UC Irvine Anteaters: UC Irvine won 23 games and went to the NIT and the Anteaters aren't losing much. Luke Nelson and Mamadou Ndiaye are a very talented freshman duo and Alex Young, Will Davis, and Dominique Dunning are all expected to be back. For right now Anteater fans just need to worry if head coach Russell Turner will be back with Cal rumors swirling.

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