Every season the NCAA Tournament provides us with a mid-major team that shocks the nation. True Cinderella stories that grab the headlines and become fan favourites. Last year was Loyola-Chicago and UMBC, in previous seasons there has been Butler, Florida Gulf Coast and VCU. This year’s mid-major team that will be looking to make a splash in March is a little different than teams in the past. They are legitimate and anyone who pays attention to the smaller conferences will say that they should win a couple of games in the tournament.
2019 Cinderella: Wofford Terriers
The Wofford Terriers of the Southern Conference are now ranked in the Top-25 for the first time in their school’s history. They have an explosive offense that is reminiscent of the Stephen Curry led Davidson team 11 years ago. They can score with ease and have shooters littered across their roster. With an enrolment of only 1,600 students, Wofford are the feel-good story of this college basketball season.
Everything starts with the 6-foot-4 senior Fletcher Magee. Watching Magee play is incredibly entertaining. He has the quintessential “green light” from head coach Mike Young. Magee takes shots the same way Marshall Henderson and Jimmer Fredette used to. He will shoot from anywhere on the court, often off-balanced and double teamed. Magee is a new aged scoring guard, taking the James Harden approach to basketball. 75 percent of Magee’s shots from the field are from three this season.
What is so incredible about the Wofford Terriers leading scorer is he is shooting 41 percent from behind the arc on over 10 attempts from three per game. This is not a new phenomenon from Magee, who has shot 43% from three over his four-year career attempting nearly nine three-pointers per game. He has done this against some stiff competition, beating North Carolina in 2017 where he dropped 27 points.
Besides Magee, there are two more sharp-shooters in sophomore Storm Murphy and junior Nathan Hoover. They are shooting 49 percent and 44 percent from three respectively and are capable of exploding for 20 points on any given night. Murphy, in particular, is a key player for Wofford as the point guard. He has a 3:1 assists to turnovers ratio and rarely makes mistakes. This will be critical come tournament play. Nathan Hoover is like Magee’s little brother, he can take over late in games and will take his shot even if the defense only gives him a few inches.
The key for this team, apart from Magee, is the fifth-year senior Cameron Jackson. The 6-foot-8 power forward is the teams leading rebounder, shot blocker and second=leading scorer at 14.8 points per game. He gives this team a legitimate low post presence, carving out space with his 250-pound frame. When shots are not falling on the perimeter, Jackson is the player that Wofford can give the ball to down low. He is not the tallest interior player but uses his broad shoulders to carve out space.
Looking Forward to the NCAA Tournament
Wofford are the type of team that nobody will want to play during the tournament. In a win or go home situation, you never want to play a team that can score at will. Wofford are second in the nation in three-point percentage at 41 percentage despite taking a high number of attempts. If they get hot, they are capable of beating anyone in a one-game showdown.
Because Wofford play in the Southern Conference, they are currently projected to be the 9th or 10th seed in the tournament. This would mean that Wofford could end up against a mid-tier power five conference team. This is the type of team that can easily bust a bracket wide open. They play in a small conference, are a small school and are not well-known. They are a veteran team that can score at will. This has proven to be a deadly combination in the past. The last two Villanova teams, although much more talented, were led by veteran players and had great shooters. This Wofford Terriers team is ready to shock the world and could make a push in March.
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