Charleston Cougars: 26-7, 14-4 in the Colonial Athletic Association

Head coach: Earl Grant (4th season)

Players to watch: Grant Riller (18.7 PPG, 40.3 3PT%); Joe Chealey (18.5 PPG, 4.7 RPG); Jarrell Brantley (17 PPG, 7.1 RPG)

Season recap: After rallying from a 17-point second-half deficit in the CAA championship game, Charleston is going dancing for the first time in 19 years. Senior guard Joe Chealey sealed the Cougars’ first trip to the Big Dance for the first time since 1999 with a 32-point performance in the conference final, the culmination of his best season at Charleston. 

Conference play did not get off to as good a start for the Cougars, who began by losing three of their first five games. However, they turned it around after an early January loss to Elon, dropping just one game the rest of the way. Charleston played just one ranked team this year, a road contest at Wichita State that the then-No. 6 Shockers ran away with by a 81-63 margin. 

Offensively, the Cougars have proven they can get hot in a hurry from downtown, boasting three players who average over 38 percent shooting from beyond the arc. Charleston averaged over 75 points per game while holding their opponents under 70 for the season. However, where the Cougars falter is rebounding—they have been outrebounded on average by just under one board per game, and largely rely on Jarrell Brantley and fellow forward Nick Harris to provide the bulk of the rebounding. 

How they make a run: Grant Riller gets hot from behind the arc, Chealey continues his magical final postseason run and the Cougars hang around on the boards to snag an early upset or two in the opening weekend. 

How they falter: The team goes cold from beyond the arc, the rebounding struggles prove too much to overcome and Cougars bow out in the round of 64.