Im going to give you what i think is the formula for any mid major to have any type of success in the NCAA Tournament.
Some of this may seem like common sense but just bare with me.
Personally i think any team can win any day in college basketball. You dont have to have 5 McDonald All Americans in your starting lineup. You dont have to have a guy averaging 25 ppg and 12 rpg. You need complete balance. Here are a few major components a mid major needs to pull off a few upsets in March.
3 point shooters. Whether it be 1 or 2-3. You need guys that can consistently come down and drain 3s. If you can have a couple guys just on fire from downtown all game, you can beat anybody. They wont be able to keep up. Unless your just letting them walk in the lane and hit open jumpers. Even if your guys are cold. Tell em' keep shooting. You need to be the focal point of the offense. Keep throwing em' up if your open. Eventually they will start going in and you will find yourselves up in the game.
3-4 big men that can get consistent minutes. You need 3-4 guys you can sub in and out down low. That will just wear down the other teams interior. Think about it 4 big men can pick up 20 fouls before they all foul out. When you look at a team like UCLA for example, they only have 1-2 guys that can really bang down low. Kevin Love and Mhata. Love doesnt sit much. So if you are able to sub your big men frequently and keep feeding the ball down low your going to end up getting a guy like Love fouled out. These guys need to be tough. They need to go and bang down in the post for 25-30 minutes. This way you can feed it into the post and then get some kick out 3s.
Smart PG play. Whether your like VCU last year and only have 1 PG or you have a few. They need to play smart and under control. If they cant then there is no point in even playing them. They dont have to be like Derrick Rose and score 15-20 points. They just need to be a facillitator. Run the offense the right way and not commit turnovers.
Tenacity on defense. Every single one of your players needs to be giving it 110% on defense. Who cares if they are worn out on offense it doesnt matter. Your never going to beat a major team if its a shootout. Say like an 85-90 game. Your not going to be able to score that many points consistently with teams like UNC. Its just not going to happen. It has to be low scoring. You need to be able to slow the tempo and make it a war of attrition. Something like a 60-55 game. Maybe a little bit higher but thats getting dangerous. Defense needs to be the #1 fixation. Offense can come 2nd.
On offense you need to realize hey we got 35 seconds to hit the rim. You need to utilize that almost every time down unless you get wide open shots. Ball movement is a must. Pass the ball around a million times. Sooner or later a defender is going to be a step late and thats where you get wide open shots.
Mid Major teams are not going to match up with teams lie UNC, Tenn. and Memphis talent wise. Its just not going to happen. You need a coach that realizes that and doesnt care. He needs to come up with a gameplan that is going to wear out that super talent that these major teams have. It needs to be a slow paced game. You will never in a million years be able to run with these teams. Its just not going to happen. They are too much faster than you are. Slow the game down. Take the full 35. Dont let them run on offense.
Most of these major teams have 2-3 guys that are really important to their gameplan. And they need to play safe because they cant pick up too many fouls too early. As a mid major coach in this tourney you cant look at your guys talent wise. You need to look at them as bodies. Bodies that can pick up fouls. You dont have that 1 star player that will ruin your game if hes in foul trouble. Tell your guys to foul its ok we got enough bodies to throw at them. Of course you cant get out of hand. You cant let them shoot 50 FTs in the game. But if they wanna try and run let your guys know foul em' stop the fastbreak, slow em' down.
Now i know some of that may seem " well..... duhhhhh" But for me i think thats the formula you need. And if you work that to prefection you can beat anybody on any given night. No matter how talented that other team is.