March Madness Teams to Look Out For


Oral Roberts’ star guard Max Abmas brings the ball up the court and looks for an opening to score. (The Athletic)

Written By Tommy Beason and Ben Goldman

     This March Madness may be one of the craziest in years. There is no distinguished top team in the nation and the number one seeds continue to lose games. While there are some big name players like the freshman Brandon Miller who can lead the Crimson Tide on a long run, or the Boilermaker Zach Edey who soars over his opponents, there may be some lesser-known teams to make long runs this year. After St. Peters went to the Elite 8 last year, many smaller teams are inspired and ready for this year’s tournament. The real question is: who will that Cinderella team be?

Oral Roberts:

If Oral Roberts was a nationally televised school they would be ranked in the top 25 if not the top 10. Undefeated in conference play, the Golden Eagles have only 4 losses, all to very good teams. They started their season with an 8 point loss to St. Mary’s, a team ranked 17th in the nation. The loss to St. Mary’s is very respectable, and Oral Roberts kept it close the entire game. Their second loss was a blowout loss to Houston, the number 1 team in the country. While the blowout was disappointing and not a good sign, Houston is the best team in the nation and it was only week 3, when Oral Roberts was still getting their sea legs under them. Their other two losses are to Utah St and New Mexico, two teams likely to make the NCAA Tournament. Utah St was undefeated at the time they played Oral Roberts and continued that way for 3 more games while New Mexico was 15-2 with a big win over a ranked team in St Mary’s. Oral Roberts can score with anyone, as they have an offense rated Top 25 in KenPom and average the 4th most points per game in the nation. They also have the Summit League player of the year, Max Abmas. Abmas is averaging over 22 points per game, and led the Golden Eagles on their Cinderella run a couple of years ago when they beat Ohio State and Florida as a 15 seed. Another Key player for Oral Roberts is Conner Vanover, a 7’5” Arkansas transfer, who was the summit league defensive player of the year, and averaged over 3 blocks per game. Vanover can also score a little, and he put up 12.9 points per game this year. The Golden Eagles are also a very deep team, with 6’7” Junior Patrick Mwamba from the Congo shooting almost 40% from 3 and giving the Golden Eagles 7.9 points per game. Oral Roberts’ major downside is their weak strength of schedule. Oral Roberts’ best win is against a decent Liberty team, and other than that they haven’t beaten any good teams. It will be interesting to see how they react to the level of talent in March Madness. Don’t be fooled by their easy schedule though, Oral Roberts can be very competitive against good schools and should win at least one game in the NCAA tournament.


The Furman Paladins are a team that nobody should sleep on during March Madness this year. Going 27-7 and winning the Southern Conference this year, the Paladins are led by Senior guard Mike Bothwell and Senior forward Jalen Slawson. Having experience for the tournament is extremely important to the success of teams over the years and this team has no shortage of upperclassmen leadership. Both of these seniors have been at Furman their entire collegiate careers and have increased their numbers as they have gotten older. Bothwell is averaging 18 points per game while shooting over 51% from the field. This guard from Cleveland Heights, Ohio can put up big numbers when called on, with a season high of 36 points against Stephen F. Austin earlier this season. This 5th year senior also does not shy away from big games. During the beginning of the season, the Paladins played against the Penn State Nittany Lions– a tournament team– and lost by only 5 points, while Bothwell put up 26 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists. Having a stud, experienced guard to lead the way should prove to be extremely beneficial for the Furman Paladins. Looking to the frontcourt, Slawson has shown extreme athleticism while putting up 15.7 points per game, along with 7.1 rebounds a game. This 6 foot 7 forward from Summerville, South Carolina can take you off the dribble and throw it down in your face, while being no slouch from the three point line as well. Slawson is shooting almost 40 percent from three point land this year which is almost a 9 percent jump from last year. The sky’s the limit for this kid and he might even just jump up and touch the sky.

Furman Paladins star forward Jalen Slawson throws down a nasty dunk. (Furman University Athletics)


Colgate may be the most experienced team in college basketball, as 4 of their 5 starters are seniors. All five starters also average over 10 points per game. When it comes to crunch time in March Madness, Colgate will have no shortage of options, and also has a variety of weapons from deep. Colgate’s best 3 point shooter, Oliver Lynch-Daniels is shooting over 50% from 3, and over 52% from the floor. They also have Ryan Moffatt, a senior forward shooting over 45% from 3. Lots of options and good shooting is a proven formula for toppling giants in March. Their experienced lineup will also be prepared for close games, more so than the one and done freshman teams of the college basketball powers. While they only have one Quad 1 win, against the Syracuse Orange, they have beaten some very good Quad 2 teams. Colgate has been to 5 NCAA tournaments, but has not won a game yet. This year is their best chance to break that losing streak. One of Colgate’s downsides is their lack of a true center. They only average 34 rebounds per game, and this will be a glaring weakness against teams loaded up with NBA ready, 7 foot tall centers. They also don’t have much depth, with each of their starters playing over 30 minutes per game, which could be a problem in the later rounds after their starters start to tire out after playing a lot of games in quick succession. Overall though, when Colgate is shooting well they are a very hard team to beat, and can go as far as their starters can take them.

The Colgate Raiders pose for a photo while celebrating after winning their conference championship and advancing to the NCAA tournament. (Colgate University Athletics)

Overall, whether it be Furman, Colgate, Oral Roberts, there should be no surprise if one of these teams goes on a deep run in this year’s tournament. But there’s only one way to find out… when the Madness begins.