It was a great season for underdogs, and now it’s finally time to wrap up the 2016 edition of the Giant Killers project. Perhaps you are wondering whether, in the final analysis, there’s anything constant to take from a tournament where Northern Iowa blew a 12-point lead in 44 seconds, Syracuse made the Final Four and Michigan State never held a lead. And of course there is: the All-GK Team.
We’re always interested in your feedback and ideas as we keep searching for ways to improve our statistical model. So our final bit of analysis is as open as we can make it: We turn off our spreadsheets and ask you to vote, by Twitter, email or carrier pigeon, for up to five players who played well for deep underdogs in the NCAA tournament. That’s it. And this time around, so many Cinderellas and voters stepped up that we have enough worthy selections to stock two squads.
Back in 2011, we named the All-GK Team after Donell and Ronell Taylor, twin brothers who played for UAB a dozen years ago. Their Blazers teams, coached by Mike Anderson (who is now at Arkansas), outstole opponents by a staggering margin of nearly two to one. And they became the first Killers to take down Giants in consecutive seasons, clipping Kentucky in a 9-1 upset in 2004 and slaying LSU in an 11-6 matchup in 2005. We have always thought this amazing sequence, where Ronell forced a turnover, then launched a blind, two-handed, 60-foot pass over the back of his head to Donell, truly exemplifies the high-risk/high-reward play of the best Killers.
Without further ado, the seventh annual Donell and Ronell All-Giant Killers Team: