The March Madness Cinderellas Who are Still the Bell of the Ball
By: Nick Holz
March Madness is never complete without the upsets that become folklore. Unknown college teams and players become stars for the month long college basketball showcase. There’s always one team that manages to ruin brackets everywhere, only to become the darling of basketball fans around the globe. Those who make a lasting impact are forever remembered in the annals of college basketball history.
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March Madness Cinderella of the 2000s No. 5: 2006 George Mason
Head coach Jim Larranaga led his squad of unknowns to the Final Four in 2006. The Patriots became the first mid-major team since 1979 to reach that stage of the tournament. The fact that a roster without a player taller than 6’7 beat the likes of Michigan State, North Carolina, and Connecticut is an accomplishment in and of itself.
George Mason smothered the opposition by playing suffocating team defense and did just enough offensively to advance. History books will always remember the unlikeliest of underdogs spicing up the NCAA Tournament in 2006.
March Madness Cinderella of the 2000s No. 4: 2008 Davidson
A certain three-point aficionado led the previously unknown Davidson all the way to the Elite Eight. Steph Curry burst onto the scene as a National sensation and led his squad to their first NCAA tournament victories since 1969.
The Wildcats upset basketball powerhouses Gonzaga, Georgetown, and Wisconsin behind Curry’s unreal outside shooting abilities. The fact that Davidson put up a fight against eventual National Champion Kansas says it all. This crew was the real deal.
March Madness Cinderella of the 2000s No. 3: 2011 VCU
VCU became the first team in NCAA tournament history to advance from the newly formed First Four all the way to the Final Four. A 33-year-old named Shaka Smart led this team of high energy overachievers to a place in the Final Four, propelling Virginia Commonwealth onto the National stage.
The underdog Rams shocked basketball powerhouses in USC, Georgetown, Florida State and Kansas. Shaka’s Rams remain the only team to ever win five tournament games and not appear in the National championship game.
March Madness Cinderella of the 2000s No. 2: 2018 Loyola Chicago
This should be remembered as one of the most enjoyable runs on this list. Number one fan Sister Jean became a phenomenon. No other team in history has captured the hearts of fans across the country with such a fantastic fan along for the ride. The 2018 Loyola-Chicago Ramblers were one of the most unlikely Final Four teams in tournament history.
Head Coach Porter Moser guided his team to a 17-1 record to finish the regular season. Then victories over Miami, Tennessee, Nevada and Kansas State in the tournament followed. The Ramblers Final Fourth berth was the deepest the team had been in postseason play since winning the National Championship in 1963.
March Madness Cinderella of the 2000s No. 1: 2010 Butler
Cinderella almost went all the way. The 2010 Butler Bulldogs were a Gordon Hayward heave at the buzzer from winning the National Title. Future Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens led the Bulldogs to victories over first seeded Syracuse, second seed Kansas State, and Michigan State en route to the championship game. Butler became just the second team from a mid-major conference to advance that far in the tournament since 1991.