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From unranked in preseason to Final Four sleepers

The national outlook in February shapes up very differently than it was predicted in November.

In three months, several preseason Coaches Poll teams have faltered, with former No. 1 Michigan State nearly falling out of the top 25 this week and preseason No. 11 North Carolina all but out of the postseason picture. 

Yet there are teams that have surprised. San Diego State, for instance, was an afterthought in November and now remains undefeated as a projected No. 1 seed in USA TODAY Sports’ latest bracketology

Here’s a look at six teams that didn’t crack the preseason top 25, and are Final Four sleepers.

Dayton. The Flyers are 21-2 behind national player of the year front-runner Obi Toppin (19.6 ppg, 7.8 rpg), having won 12 in a row. They also have a dynamic guard in Jalen Crutcher (14.5 ppg, 5.2 apg) and nearly all five starters average double figures while ranking second nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency (per KenPom). Of Dayton’s two losses, Kansas (in overtime) and Colorado (a two-point decision) they looked like a team that can thrive in the second weekend of the NCAA tourney and still be playing in April. They’re currently a No. 2 seed on the projected bracket. 

Dayton coach Anthony Grant talks with forward Obi Toppin during the second half against Fordham Rams at University of Dayton Arena.

Florida State. The Seminoles (20-4) fell to Duke on the road Monday night but even in the loss showed how they’re a force to be taken seriously. Coach Leonard Hamilton has a balanced offensive roster led by the backcourt of Devin Vassell (13.4 ppg) and Trent Forrest (11.6 ppg). This is a team that beat Louisville on the road by 13 points, and currently holds a profile worthy of a No. 3 seed. 

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