Top 5 Cinderellas In NCAA Tournament History
We all know about them, they're the teams we openly root for in March - until their playing our favorite school. They're exactly what makes March Madness the greatest sporting event known to humanity. They are the Cinderellas, and we're going to hit briefly on the best runs in tournament history.
5) Davidson, 10 seed – 2008 Elite 8
I’m not exactly sure how it’s possible that a team featuring Steph Curry is considered as the underdog story, but they were. Curry opened up the tournament by dropping 40 on Gonzaga in a squeaker, after that performance he captivated the entire basketball community. He followed that performance up with a 30 point performance against top 10 ranked Georgetown in a major upset. Following that, Davidson cruised to a victory over number 6 Wisconsin, winning by 17 with the help of a 33 point game by Superman Steph. They went on to lose to a Kansas team in the Elite Eight by just 2 points who wound up winning the whole damn thing. This Davidson team, among all of the Cinderellas listed, had the best chance to win it all.
4) Butler, 5/8 seed – 2010/2011 National Championship
We will never see anything like it ever again and I’m fairly confident in stating that. The 2009/2010 Butler team was undeniably better with Gordon Hayward and Willie Veasley but what the 2010/2011 squad did was arguably more impressive. As an 8 seed, they beat the 1,2 and 4 seeds in their region to get them to the final four where they took down VCU. That two year run put Butler on the map nationally, shortly thereafter, they joined the Big East conference and Brad Stevens was named head coach of the Boston Celtics – legitimizing their accomplishments as more than just a fluke. They’re the smallest school ever to play for a nation championship with a total enrollment of 4,500 students. I also may have been facetious when I said Davidson may have had the best chance to win it all, especially considering Gordon Hayward was like .6 centimetres away from banging a half court shot at the buzzer to beat Duke.
3) FGCU, 15 seed – 2013 Sweet 16
Dubbed “Dunk City” during their run and I believe it’s a rule if you have a nickname that sticks than you most definitely matter in some capacity. As a 15 seed they upset Georgetown, who was ranked in the AP top 10 at the time, by posturizing them. They won an ESPY for Best Upset, that alone would probably get them onto the list. After beating Georgetown, they defeated 7th seeded San Diego State on their way to the schools first ever Sweet 16. It was the first time a 15 seed ever advanced that far. They eventually lost to Florida, ending their Cinderella run.
2) VCU, 11 seed – 2011 Final Four
This run completely altered the trajectory of Shaka Smarts career. VCU snuck into the tournament as an 11 seed, having to open up in Dayton playing USC in the new “First Four” round. After winning that game they went on a run that we may never see again, winning 5 straight to go the final four. Led by Joey Rodriguez, Troy Daniels and Jamie Skeen they played a frantic style of basketball that was given the nickname “Havoc”, playing up-tempo and in your face. Teams weren’t ready for it, especially if they didn’t have time to watch film on them which became fairly obvious. When Purdue faced them in the round of 32, only having one day to prepare, VCU blew them out by 18. When Kansas conversely only had one day of prep they soundly lost by 10 although they were the top seed. Shaka and the rams changed the way basketball was played after that run.
1) George Mason, 11 seed – 2006 Final Four
Being from the area and witnessing the buzz around town during the time was indescribable. The entire DMV became Patriot fans for that run, including myself. They started the run off by beating 6th seeded Michigan State who was led by Drew Neitzel and Shannon Brown. Then things got interesting after defeating 3 seed North Carolina who had Tyler Hansbrough. Once they beat the overall seed in their region, UCONN who had Rudy Guy, Marcus Williams and Josh Boone, everyone jumped onto the bandwagon. They had gone farther than any Cinderella ever had up to that point. Florida proved to be too much, beating George Mason by 15 on their way to winning the national championship but it didn’t take away what Mason was able to accomplish.
These teams are EXACTLY why the month of March is the best, it's such an exciting time of the year.